Chloe Allen

Chloe Allen

Our Digital Marketing Executive Chloe is in charge of our e-newsletter. There's no one better placed to inform and delight you every month, so keep your eyes peeled for her newsletter hitting an email inbox near you soon.

Read time of 3 minutes.

It's a deeply unpleasant prospect to think on (and we apologise for bringing it up), but bedbugs can hide literally everywhere - including your lease car. 

Yes, yes, we know it’s a lot of panic about creatures that have been around since dinosaurs walked the earth. What’s the big deal?

The fact is, we’re a lot less used to dealing with bedbugs now than we were in centuries past.

And with these bloodsucking critters appearing in our headlines this month, it’s in your benefit to learn more about the signs of an infestation and how to treat one, so you can continue to enjoy your car bug free until you hand it back at the end of your lease.

It’s stressful enough trying to banish these unwanted visitors from the bedroom – you don’t need to be worrying about them getting into your car too.

Fortunately, we’ve done all the research on getting rid of these pests, so you don’t have to (and boy, did it make us itch just reading up on it).

First things first – it’s not about hygiene 

This is a common misconception, but bedbug infestations have nothing to do with the cleanliness of yourself or your surroundings (their existence does, in fact, pre-date the existence of beds).

They can hide absolutely anywhere – in furniture, electrical outlets and even in the walls – and typically hitchhike on the coattails of an unwitting visitor, or victim, to find new homes.

You could pick them up while travelling. Hotel rooms, airplanes and any public place where a lot of people sit are all potential hotspots and unfortunately, you won’t always know you’ve picked up an unwanted passenger until it’s too late.

And sometimes it’s not about where you go at all, but about who you have around you. If you share a building with neighbours suffering an infestation, there’s a chance these bloodsuckers will spread to your property too – as when a bedbug is starved it will search out a new host.

And if you share an air duct (just for an example) with an infested property, you’ll find them doubling as convenient routes for travel…making you an even more accessible snack.

So, how do they get inside your car?

All it might take is one little bug being carried in on your luggage, or on a passenger’s clothes. It’s got nothing to do with how regularly you clean your car.

So, if you do get struck down by them, don’t waste any time on shame and secrecy. It’s no reflection on you whatsoever – you’ve just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Recognising signs of an infestation

If you’ve got the dreaded bugs nearby, it can take a while to spot the signs of an infestation. They can start small and grow over time. You may also be one of the estimated 20% of people who have no visible reaction to a bed bug bite.

Usually, we’re advised to check our mattress for signs – the telltale black specs or little blobs of blood – but how do you check for bedbugs in your car?

We’d recommend you start with a deep search of your vehicle. These nasty biters might only come out at night, but there are fewer places for them to hide in a car than in a house.

Check any hidden cracks or crevices between cushions, in the inside of the car and in the carpet.

You may uncover a spider or two (especially in the autumnal seasons), but hopefully your car will be free and clear of any unwanted surprises.

And if you do find them lurking in your car, we’d recommend you check your property for signs too. 

What to do if you find an infestation

As bed bugs only come out at night to feed when you’re soundly sleeping, the car is not an optimal set up for them to grow and multiply. After all, we spend a lot less time behind the wheel than we do asleep in our beds.

So, tackling any errant bugs should hopefully be a lot more straightforward than if they were indoors.

In the first instance, you may opt for a pesticide to eliminate the problem.

However, this is not necessarily ideal for those of us who need to use our car every day, as pesticides can take upwards of 48 hours to work – and you’ll need to air your vehicle out thoroughly afterwards to rid it of toxic fumes.

You may do better to utilise an industrial steamer to nip an infestation in the bud. Bed bugs and their eggs can’t survive temperatures over 52C, so use a steamer to blast hot steam into the cracks and crevices of your car.

To be effective, you would need to do this for upwards of 30 minutes at a minimum; three hours is the recommended duration, but as long as there is a high heat output and steam pressure, it should be a relatively easy and cheap solution to your bed bug problem.

But there are other alternatives. Diatomaceous earth dries out insects over time and is better able to penetrate hard to reach hiding places.

Simply scatter some in your car, over seats, upholstery and carpet and leave it for as long as you choose – it doesn’t lose any effectiveness over time, so not only can it kill bed bugs, it can also work as a preventative if you’re worried about them coming back.

Regular vacuuming is another method you might use and will be much more effective on a small infestation in a car, than in a house.

We would recommend you don’t rely on vacuuming alone to rid yourself of an infestation (and definitely don’t use that vacuum in your property afterwards!), but use it as an additional step.

Repeat these steps as many times as you feel like – or until you can enter your car again without wanting to set it on fire.

Then consider getting it professionally valeted.

You know, just to be safe.

It’s not just bed bugs that can infest your car

Insects are always looking for safe places to make their homes and they will choose literally anywhere (this writer once had to deal with an ant infestation setting up shop in her lawnmower).

While it’s not a common issue, we have had reports from a customer or two of insect infestations over the years.

Usually, it’s down to factors such as the car being dormant for a while, windows being left open or the kind of upholstery inside attracting certain kinds of bug to lay eggs in it.

However, there are things you can do to prevent any unwanted pests from building a home in your vehicle: 

  • If travelling, don’t leave your luggage on or near the bed and check it thoroughly before loading into your car.
  • Don’t leave your car dormant for days on end; a stationary car is one that’s inviting pests to test it out as a breeding ground.
  • Pay attention to where you park: trees, shrubs and greenery can all harbour pests.
  • Close off any entry points: in other words, no matter how hot the weather, don’t leave your windows rolled down! Checking window seals regularly is also a good idea and consider closing off outside any outside access to air vents in a bug-heavy season.
  • Check your items: if you or your pets have spent a lot of time outside, you could easily pick up a little stowaway. So, look at your picnic blanket closely before you bundle it over the back seat.
  • Keep your cabin clean: family life doesn’t always make it easy, but a spotless interior is an excellent pest preventative. Clear out crumbs and sugary spills as soon as you can.
  • Natural deterrents: bugs don’t like some scents or oils and will keep clear of them. Consider mixing them into a homemade cleaning solution of lemon and vinegar and use it on the cabin’s hard surfaces.
  • Regular cleaning of surfaces, carpets and upholstery will allow you to spot any critters and you might consider a deep clean in preparation for changing seasons.

We hope you have no need for the tips in this article, but it never hurts to be prepared. And who doesn’t love the feel of a freshly clean car? 

Keeping your car spick and span doesn’t have to be hard work; we’ve got the essential guide to spring cleaning your interior.