Do you know that some species of roaches are more likely to infest your car?
And it’s the German roaches.
These roaches have a particular liking for your car.
In this guide, you’ll find out why German roaches infest cars and the most unimaginable places these roaches hide inside your car.
You’ll also learn the safest ways to get rid of German roaches in cars without risking yourself and your car’s interior.
Pros use these hacks to eliminate bugs in cars, and now it’s your turn to learn them without spending a dime.
Let’s dive right into the topic.
What Do German Roaches Look Like?
Before you get into the meat of the topic, you must know what they look like and their behavior.
Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to lure them out of hiding or zero into their hiding places inside your car.
German roaches are one of the most common roaches that infest human dwellings.
The other species of house cockroaches are American roaches, Oriental roaches, and brown-banded roaches.
Wood roaches are the species that infest outdoor areas like yards or gardens. These roaches are the least likely to invade homes.
German roaches are tan or yellowish-brown.
Some of them can have parallel black stripes high up on their back, giving you the impression that they’re on the head.
German roaches are the smallest of all the house roaches.
The adult German roaches grow only up to 5/8th of an inch in size. Some are even smaller.
The female German roaches are darker, fatter, and a tad bigger than the male German roaches.
German roaches have fully developed wings. But they can’t fly.
Instead, these roaches are fast runners.
Their slender bodies make it easy to hide in the thinnest of cracks.
German roaches can even crawl through small crevices less than 1/10th of their width.
So, what makes German roaches different from other household roaches?
It’s their infestation and hiding habits.
Unlike other cockroach species, German roaches prefer to hide in drier places.
The German roaches are highly likely to infest cars, kitchen cabinets, kitchen cupboards, electronic appliances, and even places like bookshelves, closets, and wardrobes.
German roaches will even nest in these places where they’ll lay eggs.
Cockroach nests are a heave of cockroach poop, cast skins, dead roaches, and baby roaches.
Baby German roaches are black, flat, and can have a tan stripe on their back.
Most people can confuse baby roaches with bed bugs because baby roaches can land up on your bed if the roach infestation in your home is severe.
Oriental and American roaches prefer to hide near wet areas.
These roach species primarily infest bathrooms, basements, laundry rooms, and the wet areas underneath sinks.
Can German Roaches Infest Cars?
German roaches are most likely to infest cars than any other species of cockroaches.
It’s because they prefer to hide in drier places.
But many car owners also notice the brownish-red giant American roaches in their cars.
Why And How Do German Roaches Get Into Cars?
Now that you know what German roaches look like and where they’re more likely to hide, it’s time to find out the reason for their car invasion.
German roaches invade cars for three primary reasons –
- The car is dry from inside
- The car has food waste that the German cockroaches can eat
- There are a lot of areas in the car where the German cockroaches can hide
As German roaches prefer to hide in dry places, that makes your car an appropriate place for them to hide.
If these roaches are in your garage, they can spill over to your cars.
Parking your car for long hours in dirty places and under trees can make German roaches sneak inside cars.
Another way that German roaches can get inside cars is when you bring things like cardboard boxes, old books, furniture, and paper piles with roaches in them.
A dirty car with many food crumbs on the car floor mats and underneath seats is a haven for roaches.
The liquid and oily food stains on the car seat, center console, and door panels also give the German roaches abundant food sources.
Once inside, these roaches will feed on food debris and spills.
Their feeding can also damage your car’s interior as German roaches can leave behind chewing marks on these places.
Your car also provides them ample hiding places.
German roaches will hide inside the car in the trunk, underneath car seats, thin gaps and openings, glove compartments, and even inside the car air vents.
German roaches in-car air vents can also damage the vent’s interiors.
And if you ignore the signs of roaches inside your car, the roach problem will escalate and can get worse.
So, what are the signs of German roaches inside cars?
Let’s find them out.
Signs Of German Cockroach Infestation In Cars
It’ll help you if you’re eagle-eyed about the initial signs of German roach infestation in cars.
That’ll help you to quickly nip the roach problem in the bud.
Here are the six signs of German roach infestation in cars –
- Musty odor
- Dead German roaches
- Black baby German roaches
- Cockroach poop
- Chew marks on the car’s fabric and seats
- Live roaches
The musty odor is a tell-tale sign of roach infestation that many people ignore. The odor is slightly pungent, and you’ll feel like you’re smelling something oily and decaying.
Many bugs, including bed bugs and cockroaches, emit a musty odor.
The musty odor is because of the bodily fluids, known as oleic acid, that roaches secret from their glands.
Experts believe that this odor is also a way of communicating with other roaches.
Cockroaches follow that musty odor to reach their nests and food source.
Even dead roaches can emit a musty odor, albeit a stronger one.
Roaches are cannibals. So, the dead German roaches will also attract other roaches to your car.
Sightings of broken wings and legs are also common in roach-infested cars.
These are the leftovers after the feeding frenzy on the dead roaches by other roaches.
And when there are musty odors and sightings of dead roaches inside the car, it’s an affirmation of the presence of a roach nest inside your car.
And where there’s a roach nest, there are baby roaches.
So, you’ll notice these black baby German roaches crawling inside your car, scavenging for food.
As German roaches feed on the dry wastes, their feces are not in the form of smear marks. It’s in the form of tiny brownish capsules that they discard randomly.
Some house roaches, like the American roaches, feed on damp wastes.
They leave behind their poop in the form of smear marks or grease marks.
No matter the species, cockroaches also leave their droppings in their nests.
Their nests can be full of roach droppings because the baby roaches eat them.
You can notice German roach droppings in places like your seat, trunks, and at the corners of the foot paddles.
You’ll also notice little chew marks on the seat and the foot carpets of your car. These are the feeding signs.
Roaches have chewed on those areas because there must be some oily food stains that they ate.
But beware, especially when you’ve got leather car interiors.
Those chew marks can also signify carpet beetles hiding inside cars. Carpet beetles are tiny brownish or black bugs that infest cars.
They feed on leather and other natural fabrics like wool, silk, and feathers.
How To Get Rid Of German Roaches In Cars?
Thankfully, getting rid of German roaches in cars is a straightforward task.
The hacks you’re about to learn will not just eliminate cockroaches in cars, but they’re also effective against any bug that can infest cars.
Here are the seven steps to eliminate German roaches in cars.
Thoroughly Clean Your Car
Cleaning your car will deny the food sources keeping the roaches alive.
Start with removing all the removable interiors like the seat covers, foot carpets, and other accessories.
Take a vacuum cleaner and deep clean the car.
Ensure that you’re not leaving any corners and gaps in the car and windows.
Do not forget to clean the car trunk, glove compartment, and other storage spaces inside your car.
It’ll be best to wash the seat covers and other interiors that you took out.
Washing them will remove the food stains, crumbs, and the dirt on them that draw roaches.
If they’re of leather, you’ll need to clean them with a reliable leather cleaner and disinfectant instead of washing them.
Many people prefer to dry-clean them. You can go down that route too.
A thorough vacuum cleaning would have removed more than 90% of German roaches and their babies.
Do not throw away the dust bag now. You’ll need to use the vacuum cleaner further down the road.
Scatter Natural Cockroach Killers
You can get rid of cockroaches and bugs without using insecticide sprays.
There are natural roach killers like diatomaceous earth and boric acid.
Diatomaceous earth is more effective because it contains diatoms.
Diatoms are fossils of planktons that penetrate the bodies of roaches and absorb the fatty acids inside their bodies that keep them alive.
That causes the roaches, and many other bugs, to die.
So, scatter diatomaceous earth inside your car.
Use a generous amount of diatomaceous earth in the storage places like the trunk.
Also, pour the diatomaceous earth inside the gaps and corners of your car.
Let the powder sit for at least 30 minutes.
Now retake the vacuum cleaner and clean your car.
Vacuum cleaning will remove the diatomaceous powder and the dead roaches too.
After cleaning, dispose of the vacuum cleaner dust bag far away from your property.
If you want fast action, you can use a reliable cockroach spray.
Spray it in the corners of your car and even inside the vents.
Then vacuum clean the car. You may also want to take off the grill on the air vent to remove any dead roaches inside it.
Keep Roach Baits Inside Your Car
Let’s face it. Roaches are tough to eliminate.
These critters are good at hiding, and they’re one of the oldest living species on the planet that survived the ice age and even the dinosaur extinction.
So, while eliminating them, some of them will hide.
But there’s a way to deal with them.
And that’s by keeping the roach gel baits. The roach baits will draw the cockroaches out of hiding inside the car.
But you’ve to be quite strategic in keeping the cockroach baits.
Keep them along the edges of the car and in the dark corners underneath the car seat.
Also, don’t forget to keep the baits in the car trunk.
The smell of the cockroach gel baits will draw out any leftover roaches hiding inside the car.
And when they consume it, the gel bait will kill them.
The best part?
The other roaches that will consume the poisonous carcasses of dead roaches will also die.
Keep the baits overnight. And dispose of the dead roaches the following day.
Your car is now roach-free.
You’ll need an entire day to get roaches out of your car.
The diatomaceous earth and gel baits will take some hours to work to eliminate the roaches.
But keep in mind that when you’re leaving the car overnight with roach baits or sticky traps, keep the car window closed.
How To Prevent Bugs In Cars?
Getting rid of roaches in the car is only half the game.
You’ll need to secure your car from roach infestation in the future.
Below are the four simple ways to keep your car roach and bug-free.
Keep Your Car Clean
Cleanliness and no clutter always win the games against bugs like roaches. Roaches thrive on human wastes.
And a cluttered car not only draw roaches but also spiders in your car.
So, keep your clean. Or vacuum clean your car at least once a week.
Show some love to your car by taking it to the car wash twice a month.
Do Not Eat (Often) Inside Your Car
We know that you’re busy. And having a quick bite en route to work is expected.
But don’t do it often.
The food crumbs that fall off draw roaches, ants, and other bugs.
Coffee stains, drops of sauce, and oil stains on car seats are an open invitation to pests like carpet beetles and even biting bugs like kissing bugs.
So, limit your meals inside the car.
Always Park Your Car In Clean Areas
Parking your car in dirty areas and underneath trees, especially in the spring and summer months, can cause many bugs, including roaches, to take refuge inside your car.
And once these bugs are inside your car, they’ll draw many other bugs.
That’ll develop a fully functional nest or pest colony inside the car.
So, always park your car in clean areas. And close the windows.
Keep your garage clean too. If dirty and cluttered, your garage is ideal for roaches to hide.
It even draws spiders inside the garage too.
Use Scents That Roaches Hate
Using scents to keep away bugs and roaches from cars and even homes is highly underrated.
There are scents that roaches hate.
And one of the most common smells that roaches hate, and humans love, is the peppermint smell.
Spray the peppermint oil spray once a week inside your car.
It’ll keep away not just roaches, but also flying bugs like wasps and rodents like mice from your car.
If you don’t like the peppermint smell, you’ve options like lavender and citrus.
Bugs hate the smell of white vinegar too.
But we bet that you wouldn’t like to drive around in a car with an acidic smell of white vinegar.
Things like bay leaves, catnip, and garlic also repel roaches. You can keep them in the car storage like inside the car trunk.
Can You Bug Bomb A Car For Roaches?
You can, but you shouldn’t, ever.
Many people take a shortcut by using a bug bomb inside the car.
They don’t want to spend time taking the interiors off and deep cleaning the car.
But the truth is that bug bombs are useless.
The aerosol from the bug bomb typically goes up. It doesn’t penetrate the tight gaps and corners inside the car where the roaches hide.
Secondly, the aerosol from the bomb has residual toxicity.
It means that there will be toxic deposits of insecticides in the interiors of your car even after hours of using it.
Thirdly, bug bombs can damage your car’s interiors.
We never recommend using bug bombs inside cars or even inside your home.
Bug bombs have caused fire issues because aerosol from the bug bombs can be explosive.
Research from the University of Kentucky, and many others, have also confirmed that bug bombs or foggers cause more harm than benefits.
And they’re ineffective in getting rid of bugs.
So, no matter what type of bug infestation you’ve got in your car or home, don’t waste your money on bug bombs.
Should You Use Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) In Your Car?
Insect growth regulators or IGRs are chemical poisons that invade the insects and destroy their ability to grow and reproduce.
They’re undoubtedly essential to get rid of roaches in homes and cars.
But there’s a catch.
IGR only works in baby roaches and nymphs. They’ve got no effect on adult roaches.
Adult insects and cockroaches survive the IGR treatments most of the time.
They continue with their lives despite consuming them and die natural deaths.
But IGR is highly effective in baby roaches.
The baby cockroaches will not develop after exposure to IGR. IGR also destroys their ability to breed and lay eggs.
Many baby roaches will even die in the nymph stage.
If IGR makes contact with roach eggs, those eggs never hatch.
So, using IGR in the car can be unnecessary if you’ve followed the steps laid out in this post.
You’ll remove all the baby roaches, adult roaches, and eggs without IGR.
And remember, IGR is a slow killer. It takes days for the IGR to show its effect.
It doesn’t work as fast as diatomaceous earth or standard roach spray.
Can Roaches Survive In A Hot Car?
Roaches can easily survive in a hot car.
Roaches can easily see through the summer if the temperature is below 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
It doesn’t matter if it’s frigid cold or sweltering heat. Roaches can withstand all seasons.
Your car provides warmth to the roaches to see through the winter months.
The dryness, clutter, and food waste inside your car make your car the perfect choice for German roaches to invade.
This guide revealed how these roaches get in the cars and where they hide once they’re inside.
A three-step guide will naturally help you get rid of German roaches in the car.
So, if you’re having a roach problem in your car, use this guide to safely eliminate roaches in your car overnight.
Nang Chen is an Entomologist and Arachnologist who is associated with Vienna’s museum of natural history. He’s also a consultant with real estate groups, insecticide conglomerates and law enforcement groups as a forensic entomologist. Nang Chen holds an M.S. from South China University and he’s a regular contributor to our site.