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How to Get Roaches Out of Your Car Overnight?

A cockroach on a car's steering wheel.

Car roaches aren't something you want hanging around, so arming yourself with various methods to get rid of roaches is vital.

Borax, boric acid, diatomaceous earth, silica gel, and cockroach bait are all effective roach-killing methods, but nothing will work if you don't thoroughly clean your vehicle first.

After stripping your car interior back and removing evident food sources or crumbs, put your chosen powder or bait in shallow containers around your vehicle, leaving them overnight to kill the roaches.

In the rest of this article, we'll cover the ins and outs of killing cockroaches with different powders, natural solutions, and even preventative measures.

Table Of Contents [show]

    A cockroach on a car's steering wheel.
    A cockroach on a car's steering wheel.

    What Kills Roaches in a Vehicle?

    Before heading straight to the "kill cockroaches" part of the process, cleaning your car thoroughly is important.

    And when we say thorough, we mean it — remove every particle of trash, take off the seat covers, vacuum the floor mats, clean all the doors, and even brush the air conditioning vents.

    Some people battling roach infestations like to pay for a professional detail of their car interiors.

    A clean, top-to-bottom car ensures cockroaches won't return once you've eradicated them.

    Unfortunately, that won't be enough to kill off all car roaches.

    After all, some types can survive without a food source for three months!

    So, now it's time to actually get rid of roaches.

    Killer Powders or Cockroach Bait?

    The simplest way to eliminate roaches is with a powder like borax, silica aerogel, boric acid, or diatomaceous earth.

    Regardless of the powder you choose, it enters the cockroaches' digestive and nervous systems, killing them.

    We recommend mixing any of the products with something roaches like flour in small containers and leaving them in the dark spaces of your car (i.e., the spare tire compartment, under seats, glove compartments, etc.).

    Boric acid kills cockroaches.
    Boric acid kills cockroaches.

    Boric Acid

    Alongside borax, boric acid is the most effective roach killer; however, it causes the most health consequences to humans and other animals.

    If you spill it on your skin, it causes rashes.

    Plus, if accidentally eaten, it can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.

    On top of that, inhaling this acid can lead to sore throats, nosebleeds, coughs, and breathing troubles.

    Borax powder
    Borax powder


    Unfortunately, borax can have similar health consequences as Boric acid and eye irritation.

    In fact, it can even disrupt hormones, reducing your libido and fertility.

    So, if you decide to go with either of these options to get rid of roaches, leave the powders in your vehicle overnight and take them out before using your vehicle.

    That way, you limit your chances of accidentally touching, ingesting, or inhaling the toxins.

    Silica Gel

    While less effective, silica gel is a safer alternative.

    In the short term, it can cause minor skin and eye irritation.

    Although, it could also be a risk factor for certain cancer types.

    Diatomaceous earth

    Again, diatomaceous earth isn't as effective as borax or acid, but it's considered non-toxic to humans and most animals.

    That said, you might experience lung irritation following long exposure.

    So, it's usually best to only keep it in your vehicle overnight.

    Diatomaceous earth is somewhat effective against cockroaches.
    Diatomaceous earth is somewhat effective against cockroaches.

    Cockroach Bait

    If you don't want to mess around with killing powders when trying to get rid of roaches, cockroach bait is the easiest way forward.

    Purchase one online or from your local hardware store and follow the instructions on the label.

    But since every insecticide is essentially poison, always keep it away from children and pets.

    What Is the Fastest Way to Get Rid of Roaches in a Car?

    From the methods above, the quickest is either borax or acid.

    Although, please consider the health precautions before using either killing powder.

    However, professional fumigation is the fastest way to eliminate roaches and pests like bed bugs.

    Fumigating a car against cockroaches can be effective.
    Fumigating a car against cockroaches can be effective.

    How Do I Fumigate My Car?

    You'll see how we feel about bug bombs later (they're ineffective when trying to kill cockroaches).

    However, fumigation done by a professional pest controller can be beneficial.

    Inhaling the products used during effective fumigation is incredibly dangerous, so letting professionals take matters into their safety-conscious hands is usually your best option.

    Is it OK to Spray Raid in Your Car?

    Raid is safe for humans and animals, so you can safely spray it in your car.

    The ant and roach spray kills cockroaches, ants, and other bugs on contact and continues doing so for a month after spraying.

    Ensure you don't spray near bait or powder mixed with food sources. Otherwise, the bugs won't migrate to those areas.

    How Do Cockroaches Get into Cars?

    You now know how to get rid of roaches, but why are they there in the first place?

    Understanding how they get in can help prevent a cockroach infestation in the future.

    Whether it's your clothing, shopping bags, or other items, roaches can infiltrate your belongings and crawl into your car anytime.

    Usually, they find their way inside your vehicle in the following ways:

    • Clothes — Since roaches love dark, warm places, both baby and adult roaches adore folded clothes. If you've recently had a cockroach problem in your home, this is probably the cause of your car's infestation.
    • Backpacks, suitcases, and other bags — If there's a food source in your bag, roaches will love it. Frequent travelers suffer from this problem.
    • Groceries — Always check fresh produce for alive and dead cockroaches. These days, it's a rare cause, but it's still a healthy habit to get into.
    • Boxes — Moving companies often find cockroaches inside boxes.
    • Gaps in door panels — As soon as food falls, clean it up. Otherwise, cockroaches can come in through small gaps and infest your space.
    • Plants — Potted plants are notorious for housing cockroach nymphs.

    Sometimes, damage to your vehicle's undercarriage and cracks or holes in the windshield and sunroof are enough to let roaches in your car.

    Plus, parking it in a messy garage could lead to roach infestations.

    Cockroach on car's center console.
    Cockroach on car's center console.

    How Long Can Roaches Live in Your Car?

    Cockroaches can survive on very little.

    In fact, as long as you occasionally drop some food, they'll happily stay hitchhiking in your vehicle for the foreseeable future (which is why it's best to avoid eating in your car).

    They love warm and dark places, making many areas of your vehicle the perfect vessel for them to breed.

    Besides actively trying to get rid of them, excessive heat can kill them off.

    But it must be scorching to work.

    Cockroaches adore temperatures between 15 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Thankfully, your car can reach well over 130 degrees Fahrenheit in under 60 minutes, even if it's only 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside!

    The bad news is that they may survive for weeks in temperatures higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit if they have a food source.

    Where Do Roaches Hide in Cars?

    Cockroaches hide in all kinds of places.

    However, you must identify their main hang-out spot to kill them effectively.

    We recommend beginning your search with:

    • The mats on the floor
    • Glove compartments
    • Seat cushions and covers
    • Door pockets

    Do Roaches Hide in Car Vents?


    Air conditioning vents present a plethora of nooks and crannies for roaches to hide, lay their eggs, and hibernate during the colder months.

    How Do You Bomb a Car with Roaches?

    There's only one way to use bug bombs for roaches — don't.

    Using a bug bomb to fight a roach infestation in your car (or home, for that matter) won't work.

    Instead, clean your car, use bait or powder like boric acid, and keep a spray bottle filled with dish soap and water handy for the stragglers.

    And if you are choosing the professional fumigation method we discussed earlier, always follow it with steam cleaning.

    Can You Get Rid of Cockroaches from Your Car Naturally?

    If you're looking for a natural solution, essential oils are your best bet.

    Oils such as the following have been proven to eradicate roaches and act as a safer alternative to chemicals:

    • Oregano oil
    • Yarrow oil
    • Mint oil
    • Rosemary oil
    • Eucalyptus oil

    You could even make your own essential oil concoction to eliminate your cockroach issues.

    How to Prevent Cockroaches Inside Your Car Interior

    Once you've rectified the roach infestation, you never want it to happen again.

    So, make your roach problem a one-time thing by following our top five tips that prevent cockroaches:

    #1 Clean Your Car Regularly

    Keeping your car interior clean is the best way to never have roaches in your car again.

    Regularly wipe and vacuum the seats, floor mats, car doors, and other areas to eradicate food crumbs and other roach-attracting tidbits.

    If you spill anything, wipe it immediately.

    And never forget about the glove compartment — it's the perfect spot for cockroaches to lay eggs and re-infest your car.

    In a perfect world, you would avoid eating in your car for complete protection from food crumbs!

    On top of that, ensuring your car's exterior is clean discourages bugs from coming inside because they won't be attracted to the grime on the outside.

    We recommend getting into a regular car clean schedule so you never attract cockroaches or other pests.

    Garbage inside your car can attract cockroaches.
    Garbage inside your car can attract cockroaches.

    #2 Consider Your Parking Spots

    In extreme heat, parking under a tree seems like bliss — who doesn't want cool-feeling car interiors?

    Unfortunately, leaving your vehicle under leafy canopies can be the perfect time for a cockroach infestation to begin.

    Typically, it would help if you avoided parking on dirt too.

    However, we know there are times when you can avoid either situation.

    Therefore, if you don't have a choice but to park on dirt or under trees, thoroughly inspect your vehicle for car roaches to ensure no pesky bugs have decided to carpool.

    #3 Inspect Everything

    When inspecting everything, checking food bags, packages, plants, or other foreign objects when putting them into your car is a must-do.

    That way, you can kill roaches and other insects at the time before they cause an actual infestation.

    #4 Close Your Windows

    Open windows are a huge culprit for roaches and in your car.

    Always keep them closed when parked to prevent a roach problem, especially if you're on dirt or under trees.

    #5 Be Proactive with Natural Roach Deterrents

    For ultimate protection, keep a spray bottle filled with a mixture of dish soap and water in your car door.

    If you spot a roach or other insect, spray it.

    The soap coats their exoskeleton, suffocating them.

    You can also use garlic, catnip, and bay leaves to stop your car interior from becoming a cockroach breeding ground.

    Place them underneath your seats, inside your glove compartment, and in the truck for best results.

    Just ensure you change them every few weeks or so to ensure they're still effective.

    Cayenne pepper also works well because roaches hate the smell of spices.

    Boric acid, traps, and gel bait in various places also work to kill insects that may stay behind after natural treatments.

    Do You Need to Hire a Professional Pest Control Service for Your Car's Roach Infestation?

    It is highly unlikely that you'll need to hire professional services for your roach-infested car.

    After all, there are only so many places cockroaches can hide in a confined space.

    Using our preventative measures and various ways to eliminate roaches, you should be able to eradicate them with ease.

    However, if the pests insist, you can consider professional fumigation followed by steam cleaning to get rid of residue.


    Whichever killing powder or bait you choose; it should eradicate roaches overnight if you mix them with something they like to eat (think flour or similar foodstuffs).

    Alternatively, you can try natural remedies like rosemary, oregano, or eucalyptus oil. However, they might not be as effective as the chemical solutions.

    If all else fails, you can hire a professional to quickly get rid of roaches and other pests using traditional chemical fumigation methods.

    Always remember to follow it up by steam cleaning your car interior as you don't want to inhale any leftover fumes or residue.