Illustration of a German cockroach in front of a car driving up a road

Getting Cockroaches Out of Your Car

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Your car might be the last place you expect to find roaches but they can hide and survive there just as well as in a house. In this printable step-by-step guide, we’ll show you how to get rid of cockroaches in your car and keep them out for good.



  • Flashlight
  • Strong portable vacuum, with crevice attachment
  • Car cleaning wipes or spray
  • Sticky traps
  • Cockroach Gel Bait
  • Insect Growth Regulator
  • Borax or Diatomaceous Earth (DE)


What signs to look for in your car:

  1. Living (or dead) cockroaches.
  2. A musty, oily odor.
  3. Cockroach droppings

Inspect at-risk areas

  1. Move the seats as far out of the way as possible, sliding them back and then forward to check underneath. Raising each seat helps, too. Use a knee pad to make kneeling on the ground more comfortable while you search.
  2. Remove the floor mats in the front and back and check for roaches underneath. On light-colored fabrics, you might also find dark roach droppings or reddish-brown eggs or egg cases.
  3. Empty the trunk and take out any removable storage covers. Use a flashlight to inspect the spare tire or tools compartment.

Clean and clear the entire car

  1. Start by clearing out everything in your car, including clothes, bags, papers and garbage. Place it all in a large garbage bag. Empty the glove compartment, too.
  2. Then, use a strong, portable vacuum to suck up dirt, crumbs and any roach droppings, eggs or body parts from all surfaces. If you don’t have a small vacuum, you can probably find one at your local car wash.
  3. Don’t forget to wipe out cup holders, door pockets and other spaces that often collect dust, crumbs and spills.

Treat your car with effective insecticides

  1. Apply 5 to 10 small drops of a good gel bait in different areas of the car. Using too much will cause the roaches to avoid it. Drops should be 2 to 3 feet apart.
  2. Use sticky traps to help control a small number of roaches. However, gel bait is your best choice for killing the colony for good.
  3. Try an application of Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) for stubborn cockroach problems.
  4. Choose a natural cockroach killer, such as borax or diatomaceous earth, to avoid using chemicals (or in addition to a gel bait). Sprinkle a fine layer of the powder onto carpets and in the trunk.

Protect your car from roach invaders

  1. Keep your car’s windows and doors closed while it’s parked, especially if you’re near the woods.
  2. Check grocery and shopping bags for hidden roaches before loading them into your car.
  3. Thoroughly inspect any garage or yard sale items, especially furniture, before transporting it. Roaches frequently hide in items long sitting in storage.
  4. Check suitcases and laundromat clothes baskets for roach hitchhikers.
  5. Carry firewood in bags. Sprinkle a small amount of borax or DE after you’ve carried any outdoor equipment in your car.
  6. Clean regularly. Vacuum your car at least once a month. For a boost of freshness in your car, shampoo the mats once or twice per year. Use your favorite air freshener to take your mind off of pest control and put your focus back on the road.


The toxicity of gel baits, IGR, boric acid, and DE is low, but you don't want pets or children eating or touching it. If you transport children or pets, take precautions to keep cockroach killers out of reach.

It could take several gel bait treatments to eliminate a moderate infestation.

Avoid using roach foggers or bug bombs, as they’re ineffective and much more dangerous than the other methods discussed above.

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