Home remedies for roaches in car

Just the sight of cockroach presence in your car is enough to trigger a wave of distress. Moreover, cockroaches are host bacteria and can cause expensive damage, which is why you need effective home remedies for roaches in car. Cockroaches multiply quickly, with German roach egg cases containing up to 50 eggs in a single reproductive cycle. Indeed, the solitary roach that scurried across your dashboard has likely invited a few companions along for the journey.

Fortunately, you can remedy the roach situation in your vehicle with common home ingredients without any need for expensive expertise.

Home remedies for roaches in car

Home remedies for roaches in car

Don’t rely on a single method—it’s likely to be ineffective in eradicating the roaches from your car. Multiple methods tend to yield faster results and increase your chances of long-term treatment.

That said, below are simple home remedies for roaches in car:

1. Boric acid

You can treat your car with a natural pesticide such as boric acid. Boric acid works by dehydrating the roaches, at the same time making your car an inhospitable environment for them. Before you get a container of boric acid, take the following tips into account.

  • Apply a thin and even layer of boric acid throughout your car. Make sure to only apply a small quantity of the powder to prevent cockroaches from avoiding it. Also, if you clump up boric acid in your car, roaches may simply navigate around it.
  • Wear protective goggles, gloves, and a face mask when applying boric acid in your car. Boric acid is low in toxicity if eaten or in contact with the skin. However, in the form of borax, it can be corrosive to the eye and irritates the skin.¹
  • Only use pure boric acid without any additives.
  • Don’t scatter the powder near air vents to prevent a mess in your car.

2. Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth works similarly to boric acid—it dehydrates troublesome cockroaches in your car and eliminates their colonies. If you have pets or children getting in the car, pure diatomaceous earth is a safer alternative to boric acid. Up to 2% of diatomaceous earth added to food is generally recognized as safe by the US Food & Drug Administration.² However, continued inhalation of diatomaceous earth has been tied to diseases such as lung cancer, silicosis, and nonmalignant respiratory diseases.³

Remember to wear personal protective equipment while applying diatomaceous earth as one of your home remedies for roaches in car. Sprinkle it in the vehicle areas where roaches tend to gather, such as cup holders and beneath the seats.

3. Baking soda

Baking soda is one of the best home remedies for roaches in car. It is an affordable powder and roach-fighting tool common in households. For baking powder to be effective in your car, you need to entice cockroaches to eat it. Roaches generally do not eat baking powder, except if you bait it with sugar. Any other bait can team up to make up the ideal home remedies for roaches in car.

Simply add this mixture to a small bowl or bottle cap to prevent any accidental spills. Sprinkle the mixture in areas of your vehicle where you suspect cockroach activities. When roaches ingest this mixture, their bodies will undergo an internal explosion, leading to their rapid death.

If you have difficulties getting roaches with sugar, you can experiment with flour or peanut butter to attract them to the substance.

4. Catnip

Catnip is known to attract cats and get them a bit crazy, however, it has the opposite effect on roaches. Even a slight scent of catnip will repel roaches from your car and keep them from returning. Just keep a live catnip plant in your car for several days. Make sure to remove it from the car during the day to allow it to bask in sunlight and water it every few days to keep it alive and thriving.

5. Essential oils

If the presence of cockroaches has left an unpleasant odor in your car, you can tackle two issues (repelling roaches and getting rid of roach smell) at once by spraying the seats with essential oils. Besides their pleasant aroma, essential oils are renowned for their ability to repel roaches. Several commonly used essential oils for roach control purposes include:

  • Cypress
  • Peppermint
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea tree
  • Lavender
  • Cedar
  • Rosemary

Don’t spray essential oils on driving mechanisms, especially the steering wheel. Also, ensure that you dilute the oil with water before application.

6. Strong herbs and plants

The following aromatic herbs contain roach-repelling properties:

To reduce or prevent any mess in your car, place the herbs inside a nylon sock or wrap them in paper. Make sure to select an herb with a scent that appeals to you since you’ll be spending time inhaling the aroma alongside your kids and pets while traveling.

7. Set up roach traps

If you still find roaches after applying the various home remedies for roaches in car, consider placing traps in your car interior. Before then, you need to be sure that the roach problem is not a result of your parking space.

You should consider buying a roach bait station. If you are dealing with German roaches, invest in any of these roach traps suitable for your car or your garage. If you discovered the roach problem to be due to the surrounding of your parking space, consider roach gel, although it can be messy.

Sticky traps are available at hardware stores and online. These adhesive boards can catch the critters as they crawl over them.

Traps are not likely to eradicate your roach problem entirely. They are most effective when used as a tool to gauge the scale of the issue. If you go several nights without capturing any roaches, you can confidently conclude that the roaches are gone.

8. Vacuum the car in and out

Prepare your car for the cleaning process by parking it in a convenient location and leaving the doors and windows open. Declutter your car and safely put away your belongings. Allow some time for the interiors to be ventilated. It’s also advisable to wear a mask, gloves, and a pair of goggles to shield yourself from potentially harmful pathogens and allergens.

Vacuum every nook and cranny of your car’s interior using a handheld vacuum cleaner for more convenient and easier maneuvering. Try to clean hard-to-reach areas as well.

9. Give the car a professional cleaning

After gathering a substantial amount of dust and debris, wash your car using soapy water and disinfectant wipes. Begin by addressing the interior, paying particular attention to high-touch areas like the steering wheel, dashboard, pedals, and glove compartment. Be sure to eliminate any greasy residues and food stains as you progress through the cleaning process.

Dangers of cockroaches in your car

Cockroaches may induce a certain level of discomfort. They present an immediate threat to you or your vehicle as they disseminate contaminants through their excrement. Apart from emitting an unpleasant odor, cockroach droppings can lead to various harmful diseases, including:

  • Dysentery
  • Streptococcus
  • Staphylococcus
  • Listeriosis
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Giardia
  • E-coli

People who are allergic to cockroaches can experience symptoms such as skin itchiness or respiratory issues when exposed to them.

Cockroaches are notorious for nibbling on car wires and nesting in furniture. A sizable and persistent group of these critters could also quickly destroy the aesthetics of your vehicle and cause expensive repairs.

Cockroaches also attract other pests to your car. For example, rodents such as rats that catch wind of the roach odor from cockroach droppings may join the gathering. And if rats have run out of food sources, roaches become their new source of food. Unfortunately, this also means that rats can entirely manage to get into your vehicle. It won’t be long before they start gnawing on wires and leaving their bacteria-infested excrement in various areas. You may be able to save your pocket if your auto insurance covers rodent damage.

How roaches enter your car in the first place

Determined cockroaches will break into your car when searching for food and shelter. The typical places cockroaches can use to enter your car include:

  • Air vents
  • Exhaust vents
  • Electrical outlets
  • Engine blocks
  • Compromised window seals
  • Sunroofs
  • Front grill
  • Weatherstripping

Cockroaches can also be present in clean vehicles, but certain factors often increase the likelihood of attracting an infestation. including:

  1. Food crumb traces inside the car.
  2. Storing perfume, makeup, or other cosmetics within your vehicle
  3. Accidentally spilling liquids, particularly soft drinks, on the car’s floor or seats.
  4. Excessive moisture, which becomes a significant concern during winter or in an inadequately ventilated car.
  5. Not removing sweat, oil, and dead skin from your car interior.
  6. Damaged and exposed leather and adhesives.
  7. Stored cardboard, paper, or newspapers in your car, as cockroaches are fond of chewing through such materials.

The general solution is to maintain a monthly cleaning routine for both the interior and exterior of your car. Regular cleaning not only enhances the overall pleasantness of your vehicle but also aids in the removal of cockroaches’ preferred food sources.

Where roaches nest in your car

Roaches have a knack for concealing themselves in various nooks and crannies when they enter cars. Their preferred hiding places are:

  • Trunk
  • Gloves compartments
  • HVAC system
  • Air vents
  • Floor mats
  • Engine area
  • Rear window
  • Above the footwells

You will also find cockroaches inside the takeout boxes, cups, bags, books, or any other debris you may have scattered inside the car. Just be on the lookout for roaches in tight spaces of your car.

Signs of an infestation

Cockroaches are nocturnal, so they usually go about business at night and unnoticed for weeks, even if there is a significant infestation. Below are indications of a roach infestation:

  • Unpleasant smells in your car interior
  • Egg deposits (they lay eggs in pellet-shaped cases called oothecae)
  • Discarded exoskeletons from molting
  • Excrement (roach droppings resemble small black pepper or ground coffee)

How to keep roaches at bay

If you have successfully used home remedies for roaches in car, it doesn’t stop there. Now, you have to stop the cockroaches from returning with the simple tips below:

Clean the garage regularly

The roaches in your car could be a result of your garage’s condition. So, if your garage has splashes of motor oil or leftover food packages on the countertops, that’s the reason the roaches entered. Even if your car is spotless, a dirty garage can attract various pests, including resilient rats and mice.

Tidy up and prep your garage by decluttering and removing any potential food sources for pests. Additional measures to take include:

  • Address any water-related issues, such as leaks or condensation problems, in your garage. You can use dehumidifiers to eliminate mold and dampness in your garage.
  • Don’t store items in your garage that may serve as a food source for cockroaches, including pet food, books, paper, sugar, dried foodstuffs, flour, and glue.
  • Place adhesive traps in your garage and around the car to catch cockroaches. You can also sprinkle boric acid or diatomaceous earth on the floor to deter them.

If you typically park your car in the driveway, make an effort to keep the surrounding area clear of clutter. Also, consider discussing the issue with your neighbors—they might need to participate in the procedure to stop roaches from coming back.

Always close the car windows

Leaving the window open without supervision is an invitation to roaches and other pests such as spiders, wasps, ladybugs, beetles, and silverfish. Always close all windows, including the sunroof, each time you exit your vehicle. If your car often heats up rapidly, high car interior temperatures create inhospitable conditions for cockroaches.

Complete any necessary repairs

Regardless of how minor the damage may appear, even small cracks and openings can serve as entry points for cockroaches. So, inspect your car for any damages and address any necessary repairs.

Final thoughts

DIY pest control methods may not be enough if you have a severe roach problem. If you have been grappling with persistent cockroach issues in your car, request the assistance of a professional car detailer to effectively address the problem and provide suitable solutions. If you suspect the roach problem to be due to your surrounding, get in touch with your local professional pest control expert.


  1. “Boric Acid.” National Pesticide Information Center
  2. “Is ‘food grade’ diatomaceous earth okay for pest control?” National Pesticide Information Center
  3. “Health Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth.” WebMD
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