Roaches in your car? Before setting it on fire, try this instead…

Roaches in your car? Before setting it on fire, try this instead…

So. You found roaches in your car. That’s pretty much the worst thing ever, right? Rather than ditching your vehicle on the side of the road or lighting the entire thing on fire, there are safe and easy ways to remove said pests.

Based on my experience of once having to deal with this hellish nightmare on a car that had been in long term storage, I ultimately discovered the best solutions for getting cockroaches out of a car for good:

Traditional Solutions:

  • Vacuuming (the most obvious choice – besides fire)
  • Baits and traps
  • Insecticides

Natural Solutions:

  • Peanut Butter and Boric Acid
  • Baking Soda and Onions
  • Soapy Water
  • Catnip
  • Roach-repellent food

Descriptions of all of these techniques are listed below. The best part is that all of them will help you get rid of those cockroaches without destroying your car (or mental health) in the process.

The best ways to get roaches out of a car

Before I explain how to remove roaches in a car, it’s best to understand why they are there in the first place and how to prevent them from returning.

I hate to say it, but it’s most likely your own dang fault that roaches are now taking over your vehicle. Either you, or someone recently in your car, left food or drinks open for them to find. Maybe you just left a window open, and they were looking for a cool, dry place for the time being.

cockroaches in your car
Pretty much what if feels like knowing that you’ve got cockroaches in your car. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Once you rid your car of the invaders, be sure to remove food and takeout / grocery bags. Also try to keep your windows closed to prevent further infestations. You can also try the following techniques:

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Car vacuums have come a long way since their original invention. You had to take your car to a professional car washing service station in the old days and have someone else clean it for you. And while that might be a great solution to your roach problem, it may also be a very costly one.

To get rid of roaches yourself, you can purchase a mobile and high-powered vacuum, or you can drive to a nearby gas station and use one of their vacuums. You will also probably vacuum up the food and crumbs that are luring roaches to your car, a definite benefit in preventing future unwanted visitors.

When vacuuming your car for roaches, remember to get in-between and under the car seats, as well as under the floor mats. You may also want to vacuum the trunk for full-car service. This is the vacuum that I’m currently using to keep my 2012 Mustang GT tidy and clean (and roach-free).

Baits and traps

Another way to get rid of car roaches is by using baits and traps. “Sticky” traps use adhesives to stop the roaches in their tracks, while commercial baits work to ensnare cockroaches in their trap.

You will want to place baits and traps in out-of-the-way places, especially if you frequently have pets or children in your car. And you will need to monitor and remove traps once your roach problem is solved.


The application of an insecticide is another excellent way to remove roaches from a car. I recommend Novacide, a common insecticide that works to kill cockroaches and their eggs, stopping any further infestation in your vehicle.

Pyramid Aerosol is another insecticide option to rid your car of roaches. This is a flushing insecticide that can reveal the number of roaches and how bad the infestation is in your car.

Applying an insecticide opens all the doors and windows of your vehicle and spray in a downward motion. You should attempt to cover all the seats and floor spaces of the vehicle. Let the car air out to allow the spray to dry before driving.

Creative & alternative solutions to getting rid of roaches

If you are looking for a home remedy or environmentally-friendly option for getting rid of the roaches in your car, I have creative alternative solutions for your consideration.

Peanut butter and boric acid

It may sound odd, but an acid kick is just what your roach-infested car needs! Or, more specifically, a boric acid pesticide with bait will do the trick.

Boric acid is an all-natural poison that is perfect for killing roaches. Sprinkle some boric acid on a plate with a half cup of peanut butter as bait, and you will certainly get rid of your pesky roach problem. You may also want to dust certain areas of your car with boric acid as roaches are harmed by ingesting the pesticide as well as walking through it.

Here are some other natural recipes for safely removing roaches from your car:

Baking soda and onion

For a quick and easy home-remedy solution for killing car cockroaches, consider grabbing baking soda and a diced onion to create a toxic combination.

Most homeowners have an onion and baking soda in their kitchen supplies, so this is an easy DIY roach-killing solution. Simply dice up an onion and sprinkle baking soda on top, and place throughout your car. The roaches will think it’s dinner and eat up before realizing their deadly mistake.

Again, wherever you find dead roaches will be a hint of problem areas, and you can specifically target those areas of the car to eliminate more roaches.

Soapy water

Another natural roach-killer is soapy water. Simply fill a spray bottle with water and liquid soap, then aim and fire when you see a cockroach. The soap’s detergents clog the roach’s pore and essentially suffocates it. It’s an organic way to rid your car of roaches and, again, these household items should be easily found in your kitchen or bathroom.


If you’re not the kind of person who would ask silly questions such as “why does my car smell like gas?”, then consider gasoline as a repellant. I’ve known several people who left containers of gas in old cars to keep the roaches (and other bugs) out. Note that all of those cars were derelict and slated for full restoration (someday), but…it worked.

Other natural solutions to repel roaches from the interior of your car

There are, of course, other ways to rid your car of roaches, other than killing them. You can attempt to repel the cockroaches with household items, pushing them out of the home they have made in your car.

These will not harm the cockroaches but simply move them from one place to another. Before attempting these options you may want to make sure the next place they move is not your home or another vehicle.


Catnip is an old family secret that many use to repel cockroaches from their homes and vehicles. While catnip is a lure for cats, it acts as a repellent for roaches and essentially drives them away.

Using catnip to push roaches out of your car is a safe and harmless way to rid your car of roaches. Catnip does not hurt the roach and they simply move on to a more friendly environment.

Roach-repellent food

Another safe and non-toxic technique to get rid of roaches in your car is to place roach-repellent food inside your car. Even though food might be why the roaches are there, to begin with, certain foods will have the opposite effect and drive them out.

If you want to use roach-repellent food as a way to rid your car of roaches, these three foods work the best:

You can leave these items under seats or on the dashboard and out for a few days. Again, these foods will not draw roaches in like bait. They will push them out of the car.

Is it safe to put a roach bomb in a car?

Ultimately, you will want to use a previously-mentioned approach to getting rid of any roaches in your car. A roach bomb is not safe and may cause damage to your car’s upholstery.

Roach bombs are made for homes and spacious rooms, and your car is not a big enough room. Unfortunately, the roach bomb will only drive the roaches deeper into your car’s hiding spots.

I recommend a hands-on approach to ridding roaches in a car, such as vacuuming and insecticides. And remember to keep food out of your car as much as possible so that you don’t get repeat visitors.

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