Bed bugs are frustrating to deal with because they’re so resilient and invasive. If you have bed bugs in your car, you’ll be happy to know that parking under the sun can be enough to get rid of them. However, it has to be on a warm day to kill these pests with heat; otherwise, they’ll spread throughout the vehicle.
Bed bugs take between 20 to 90 minutes to die in a car if it’s hotter than 115 degrees Fahrenheit. However, bed bugs won’t die in a car if the vehicle doesn’t get hot enough. There are more than enough gaps around the steering wheel and other parts of the car to let oxygen into the vehicle.
Throughout this post, we’ll explain how to long bed bugs last in a vehicle, how you can get rid of them, and more.
How Long Do Bed Bugs Live in a Car?
Bed bugs can live in a car as long as they have food and oxygen. Since cars aren’t completely airtight, most bed bugs can live their full lifespan in a vehicle. However, you can use extreme temperatures and various home remedies to eliminate the bed bugs in your car.
If you don’t take care of the bed bugs, they’ll have no problem settling into the vehicle. Bed Bug Supply mentions you could use a space heater to warm your car, but make sure you only use it for a short time (as recommended by the manufacturer). Space heaters can be dangerous in small spaces if they’re left unchecked.
The best way to use extreme temperatures against the bed bugs in your car is to simply leave the vehicle outside.
Will Bed Bugs Survive in a Hot Car?
Bed bugs won’t survive in a hot car because the internal temperature is significantly warmer than the external temperature. Cars are often 20 degrees higher (or more) than the ambient temperature outside. For example, a 90-degree day is often over 110 degrees in a vehicle, which is far too hot for bed bugs to live.
Here’s how you can make sure bed bugs don’t live in your hot car:
- Park under direct sunlight. Your car gets hottest when it’s soaked in sunshine. Do your best to avoid garages, parking under trees, and so on. Also, make sure the vehicle is outside during the warmest part of the day. Your car gets much hotter when it’s sitting still and heating from the outside in.
- Stay out of the vehicle and don’t turn it on for at least a full day. Your car’s air conditioner will prevent it from getting warm enough to kill the bed bugs. If it’s not over 120 degrees Fahrenheit, it’ll usually take 30 to 120 minutes to kill bed bugs with heat. There’s no use in driving until the bed bugs are gone.
- Remove all of the clothes and other items from the car. These obstacles give the bed bugs hiding spaces. Furthermore, clothes and many other items are a bit colder in the center. This means the bed bugs in the clothes won’t die, so they can crawl around and infest your car once the vehicle cools down.
- Pull the sunshades out of the windows and windshield. All of these items prevent the sun’s heat from entering the vehicle. Think of it as doing the opposite of what you’d do to cool down your car on a sunny day. The goal is to promote the blistering heat in your car that you usually try to avoid.
- Keep the windows, doors, and trunk sealed. Too much ventilation will prevent the car from getting hot enough. It’ll also allow the bed bugs to crawl out and come back when it cools down. There’s even a chance of other bugs coming into your car, dying, and providing food for the bed bugs.
At What Temperature Do Bed Bugs Die in a Vehicle?
Orkin claims that bed bugs die at 119 degrees Fahrenheit. While this might seem a bit too high for a vehicle, most cars get much hotter than the external temperature. An 85-degree day can be scorching inside of a car. However, even 110 degrees is enough to harm bed bugs after long-term exposure.
It’s important to remember that extremely low temperatures can also kill bed bugs in a car. For example, bed bugs die when they’re frozen for a few hours. While we don’t recommend letting the snow into your car, leaving the vehicle parked in the driveway during a freezing night could get rid of the bed bugs.
If your vehicle doesn’t fall within the recommended temperature range, consider some of the tips and tricks in the following section.
Can You Bomb Your Car for Bed Bugs?
You can bomb your car for bed bugs, but it’s not recommended since it’s unhealthy and difficult to remove. Most bug bombs, sprays, and foggers release toxic chemicals that get caught in tiny spaces around the vehicle. Not only can they damage the fabric of your car, but they can also lead to headaches, stomach aches, and more.
According to Den Garden, you should never use bug bombs to get rid of bed bugs in a car. They’re far too dangerous and can cause unwanted side effects. Furthermore, bug bombs aren’t always effective. You could turn your car into a toxic box without doing anything to the bed bugs. It’s best to stick to numerous alternative solutions.
So, how else can you make bed bugs go away from your car? Try these tips:
- Keep your vehicle as clean as possible. Bed bugs thrive in dirty places. They feed on body oils, blood, etc. If you clean your car often, they’ll run out of their primary food source. Consider pairing this suggestion with the aforementioned idea of parking your car under direct sunlight for the best results.
- Use a steam vacuum throughout the car. Steam vacuums almost always kill bed bugs on contact. The water has to get hot enough to turn into steam, which means it’s hot enough to kill these pests. This method is only effective if you vacuum every square inch of fabric since the bed bugs can move elsewhere.
- Bring your car to a professional car wash. They often use chemical cleaners and steam vacuums that will get rid of the dirt and grime in your vehicle. Thankfully, these cleaners and vacuums also remove bed bugs. This is one of the most effective ways, but you could also consider a fumigator.
- Scrub the seats and floors with white vinegar. Vinegar is too acidic for bed bugs. You can use one cup of white vinegar with two cups of water and a sponge. Scrub all of the fabric in the vehicle, then park under the sun. The vinegar smell naturally goes away, and you’ll be done dealing with the bed bugs in your car.
Bed bugs might’ve found their way into your car, but a little bit of heat will get rid of them quickly. Make sure you park under direct sunlight throughout the day to prevent them from laying eggs and spreading in the car. Furthermore, consider cleaning the vehicle with vinegar and dish soap wherever possible.