Roaches In Your Car: Why They Do This and How to Remove Them

Written by Brandi Allred
Updated: October 29, 2023
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Imagine: you open your car door, go to get in, and see roaches in your car. For many, this is the stuff of nightmares; it’s enough to make anyone gag. Cockroaches are one of the most reviled pests in the world; they’re even more hated than ants or bed bugs, two insects much harder to get rid of. Roaches aren’t fully deserving of their poor reputation though; only about 1% of all cockroach species around the world ever cause problems for humans.

The rest live their lives out in nature, quietly cleaning up all the rotting matter of the planet. Without roaches, we would actually live in a very different, and much dirtier, world.

Here, we’ll learn why roaches invade our cars, and just how they’re able to survive in such seemingly inhospitable metal wagons. Then, we’ll take a look at the best ways to prevent cockroaches from moving into your car in the first place.

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Once we’ve learned about that, we’ll go over the three best ways to get rid of any and all roaches in your car. Finally, we’ll discuss whether or not you should use bug bombs in your car to take care of your roach problem. 

Why Are There Roaches in Your Car?

Cockroaches in Car - Cockroach in Front of Instruments

Cockroaches are attracted to food sources inside cars and can spread disease if not eliminated.


Cockroaches come into our cars for a lot of the same reasons they come into our homes. The biggest reason is for food; is your car full of crumbs, leftover french fries, or leftover sauce packets? All of these things provide excellent sources of food for roaches, who will happily follow their scent into your car.

You may also get roaches in your car because it provides shelter from the harsh weather of the outside world. Though a car may not seem like the best place for a cockroach to live, it actually provides a lot of protection from things like snow and rain. If you do find roaches in your car, it’s important to take care of them promptly; they spread disease and pathogens.

Can Roaches Survive in a Car?

Unlike humans, who can’t survive in extreme temperatures, roaches in your car can survive even when temperatures rise or fall to dangerous levels. In fact, cockroaches are happiest when they’re warm; they’re drawn to warm, dark, humid places.

If you have roaches in your car, it’s likely that your car provides at least one of these. Cockroaches in the car will avoid any area with direct sunlight; they’re nocturnal and don’t usually make themselves known until the sun goes down. 

Preventing Roaches in Your Car

American cockroach

Roaches infest cars in search of food and shelter

©Fajar Tri Amboro/

There are a few easy ways to prevent getting roaches in your car. The first of which is to keep it clean, and vacuum regularly. If you do eat in your car—which, let’s face it, most of us do—be sure to clean up any food scraps, crumbs, and food wrappers once you’re done. 

Cockroaches love food, and places to hide, so throw out any garbage from your car regularly. Also, try to make sure you don’t have a lot of clutter for the roaches to hide in. Lastly; keep all doors and windows sealed whenever you’re not in the car—open windows provide easy access for roaches to invade your car.

3 Ways to Get Rid of Roaches in Your Car

If you’re unfortunate enough to find roaches in your car, don’t panic: there are ways of getting rid of them. And, it’s not too hard. The best way to get rid of roaches in your car is a combination of vacuuming, trapping, and insecticides. Cockroaches aren’t nearly as difficult to eradicate as fleas or bedbugs are, and once you remove their sources of food, they’re not likely to make a repeat appearance. When it comes to getting roaches out of your car, the name of the game is getting rid of the things they like.

1. Vacuum 

If you find roaches in your car, the first thing you should do is clean up. First, pick up all garbage and remove all items from the car that don’t need to be there. Then, using either an indoor or outdoor vacuum, vacuum every nook and cranny you can get to. Use caution when you do; depending on the level of your infestation, you may scare some roaches out of hiding. 

2. Traps

Cockroach peeking over the ledge

To get rid of roaches in your car, start by vacuuming and throwing out any garbage, then move on to traps and insecticides

©Mr.Pattrawut Yamyeunyong/

Once you’ve done a thorough cleaning job on your car’s interior, it’s time to set out some roach traps. Cockroach traps can be bought in any hardware store, and most grocery stores. There are two types; glue traps, and bait traps. For the purpose of getting roaches out of your car, either will work. 

Glue traps may provide easier cleanup, as cockroaches die on them, so you don’t have to worry about them dying somewhere in your car for you to find. Bait traps, however, may be slightly more effective because roaches eat the poisoned bait, then go back to their nest to die. From there, other cockroaches make a meal of the dead roach and become poisoned themselves.

3. Insecticides

Finally, if you’re still worried about having roaches in your car, you can use roach spray. Like traps, insecticidal spray is widely available and relatively safe. Most kinds can be sprayed in the car without fear of staining or bad smells. Use caution when applying roach spray though; it’s definitely not something you want to inhale, you may even want to wear a face mask while applying it. And, avoid using bleach to kill roaches.

Should You Use a Bug Bomb in Your Car?

If you find a roach in your car, you may be tempted to just grab a bug bomb and set it off inside. Don’t do this; bug bombs do not work against roaches, especially when they’re in your car. Instead, opt for the clean, bait, spray, method. Bug bombing a car, or a home, to take care of cockroaches, is never a good idea.

Does Vinegar Drive Away Cockroaches?

white vinegar on the wooden table top

Vinegar can be a solution for ridding your car of cockroaches.

©focal point/

You probably have heard from one source or another about the many uses of vinegar around the house for all kinds of home remedies and cleaning solutions. Vinegar is just one of those cheap, household products that comes in extremely handy for all sorts of reasons. And here is one more!

We have listed a few ways to get rid of cockroaches in your car, but utilizing vinegar in your house and in your car can be a cost-effective method. Because of its sour taste and pungent smell, the presence of vinegar can be enough to persuade insects to stay out of areas that have been cleaned with a vinegar-based product. While vinegar by itself probably will not terminate any cockroaches, it does provide a method to encourage them to leave. If you are trying to determine which type of vinegar or which variety, the best for this application is white vinegar.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © gan chaonan/

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About the Author

Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She holds degrees in English and Anthropology, and spends her free time writing horror, scifi, and fantasy stories.

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