Yes, bed bugs can indeed infest your car although their name might not suggest it. Bed bugs can live in any place that is dark and damp. They are usually found in bed mattresses because it is the most feasible place for them. Not only they do have small crevices in which they can hide, but it is also near to their host. Since bed bugs feed on blood, they can infect humans as well as animals.
If you suspect that your car has been infested with bed bugs, here is some helpful information you can use to get rid of them.
How Do Bed Bugs Get in Your Car?
But first, how do they even get inside a car? Bed bugs do not have wings therefore they cannot fly from one place to another on their own. However, they can travel through their hosts. Bed bugs are exceptionally good at traveling through surfaces. For example, if the bed or a sofa in your house is already infested with bed bugs, they can cling to your clothes or bags and get inside your car.
How Do They Survive in the Car?
If you have a family car, it means you use it to travel on a daily basis. Be it going to school or work because a personal car is convenient, you’re more likely to use only this for commutation purposes. It also means you’re inside the car for the most part of the day or at least 6-7 hours.
This is enough time for bed bugs to get their nutrition from you and survive. Moreover, it is entirely possible that they travel with you in person. For example, they might hide in your clothes as you get out of the car, feed on you as you go about your work and get inside the car again at the end of the day.
What to Do if You Fear Bed Bug Infestation?
If you suspect that bed bugs have infested your car, the first step is to always call a professional. Pros know how to deal with it the best way. An early call to the professionals not only stops the situation from getting worse but also results in the complete elimination of the pests.
Keep in mind that once a place has become infested with bed bugs or any other type of pest, it is extremely hard to get rid of them. They hide in small cracks and even if a few of them survive, they can multiply in days. So, make sure to call a professional bug exterminator services at once. If not, here are some measures you can take on your own.
A Quick Test to Check if Your Car is Indeed Infected
An obvious giveaway of bug infestation is red, itchy spots on your skin. These are bug bites and signs that bugs have been feeding on you. You’ll find these mostly on your lower legs and arms but they can be present anywhere on your body.
However, if you’re not sure which place is infected, such as your house or car, then you should inspect those places. Look for blood smears, rusty spots, dried-up excrements as well as exoskeletons of dead bugs.
If you’re still not satisfied and want to see living proof of bed bug infestation, then perform this quick test.
Purchase a double-sided carpet tape and painter’s tape from any supermarket or a hardware store. Cut a long strip of painter’s tape and put it along the crevices in your car. Put the double-sided carpet tape on top of it. Leave it for a day and see if you find any bugs sticking to the tape. Use a flashlight from your phone or an LED light for closer inspection. If you do find bugs sticking on the tape, it proves that your car is definitely infected.
5 Steps to Getting Rid of Them
Now that you know your car is infested with bed bugs. You can either call a professional service or follow the steps mentioned below to get rid of them.
1. Clean the Clutter and Debris
The first step is to take out everything in your car. The floor mats, seat covers, important documents, trash can and anything you had lying around in the car. Don’t put these things inside the house as you risk the infestation spreading. Throw away things that are not important. If you keep them in the car again, you might bring back the bed bugs.
2. Vacuum Thoroughly
Once you’ve cleared out the car, it’s time to clean it thoroughly. Use a vacuum cleaner to get rid of the dirt, debris and food crumbs in the car. You can use a regular house vacuum cleaner but it might not reach every corner. We recommend buying a mini vacuum cleaner for this purpose. You can also rent it for a cheap price if you don’t want to spend money on something you’ll probably use only once. Make sure to not empty the vacuum cleaner inside the house and always dump its contents in a plastic bag outside the house.
3. Use a Steamer to Kill Them
The best way to kill bed bugs is by using heat treatment. You can buy a steamer especially made for getting rid of bugs from a local hardware store. Just make sure the machine you buy can deliver a temperature between 70°C to 80°C. This is the minimum temperature required to kill bed bugs. Moreover, ensure that it has a capacity of 1 gallon of water and a steam control feature. A good and effective steamer can cost you as much as $800 to $1000, but again, you can rent it for cheaper.
Once you’ve got the steamer, make sure the car is turned off and start the healing treatment. Follow the instructions provided with the machine and steam the interior of your car. Pay special attention to nook and crannies, small crevices as well as the seats.
4. Wash the Floor Mats and Seat Covers
After you’ve steamed the car once, wait for it to dry and repeat the process once again for good measures. As you wait for it to dry, wash the floor mats and seat covers outside the house to kill bed bugs living in them. You can also use the steamer on these as well. Never put the floor mats back before ensuring that it is free of bugs because that will simply give a chance for the bed bugs to survive.
5. Treat All the Things You Kept in Your Car With Heat
The ideal thing is to throw away stuff you kept in the car but if you can’t, then give it a heat treatment as well. For example, the bag you carry to school or work, a guitar case, any clothes or luggage, etc. Use a steamer to clean them before putting them back in the car. Don’t worry about the papers, bed bugs cannot survive on them.
Other Ways to Kill Bed Bugs in the Car
Although heat treatment is the most effective way to kill bed bugs, it is not the only method. Here are a few other methods you can try to get rid of bed bugs in your car completely.
1. Chemical Sprays and Pesticides
There are a lot of pesticides available in the market that are highly effective against bed bugs. You can use them. However, these contain toxic substances that are even harmful to humans and animals. Be very careful when selecting or using any chemical spray. Leave this method entirely, if you travel with kids or pets because it can be lethal for them.
2. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth is another kind of pesticide. It comes in a white powder form and is very effective for killing bugs, especially bed bugs. It is also less dangerous for humans but still makes sure to take every precaution before using it. You can find it at any supermarket or plant shop. Sprinkle a good amount of it in your car, not leaving any corner or crack. Leave it overnight or day, then vacuum it off. Repeat the process a few times for better results.
How to Prevent Bed bugs from Infesting Your Car
A key to treating pest infestation is to avoid it altogether. Your job doesn’t end with getting rid of all the bed bugs in your car. The next step is to take measures to keep them away from your car. Here’s how you can do it.
1. Keep it Clean
Always keep your car clean. It might sound tedious but regular cleaning can work wonders for keeping the pests away. Do not eat or drink in the car. If you do and leave food crumbs inside it, then make sure to vacuum it off immediately.
2. Leave the Seats and Floor Mats in the Sun
Expose the interior of your car to the sun periodically, if not frequently. You don’t need to damage the car by leaving it out in the sun. Simply take out the seat covers and floor mats and leave them outside. The heat from the sun helps get rid of any bugs living in them.
3. Take Measures to Not Bring Bugs into Your Car
Bed bugs are everywhere. At the airport, on buses, on restaurant seats and especially in the hotel rooms. They thrive in the summer season. So, if you went on a summer vacation and stayed in a hotel, do inspect the room. Make sure it is not infested with bed bugs. Prefer plastic chairs instead of wooden ones with cushions as bed bugs cannot survive on hard surfaces.
To conclude, it might be possible to get rid of bed bugs living in a car but it is not easy. Don’t forget to contact professionals for proper treatment.