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"My Friend Has Bed Bugs and Sat in My Car Should I Burn It?"

Dropping your friend off at their place before you go home is a nice gesture. Even so, if you later find out that your friend sleeps with a bed bug infestation at their home, there’s no surprise that you’re already thinking of extreme measures to deal with these pests. After all, it’s a real pain to get rid of them.

READER QUESTION:

“Hey, guys. So, we’ve got a problem. I just gave my friend a ride home the other day…and just today he mentioned that he’s dealing with bed bugs. Besides setting fire to my interior, is there any solution to make sure there are no bugs in there? Thanks.”

I am sure most of you probably had the same just fire-it-up thoughts when it comes to this dilemma. But how do you get rid of these bugs? There are some really cheap and simple options available out there, and we’ll go over some of them.

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If you find out that your friend lives in a home full of bed bugs, don’t panic. Instead, try to stay calm and look for signs inside your car that instantly give away whether your friend did indeed leave behind a group of unwanted passengers. From there, a few easy options are at your disposal.

We’ve got a few more extreme options too:

  • Fumigate The Car
  • Hire A Pest Management Company as a last-ditch resort

Having wiped out all the bed bugs from your car, you probably plan on not wanting this to happen again in the future. Thankfully, you will also learn how to prevent such a scenario from occurring again if you read this post all the way to the end.

Can Bed Bugs Hitch A Ride Inside Your Car?

A close-up view of a bedbug crawling on a surface.

Before you start freaking out and thinking of the worst-case scenarios and equally bad solutions, there are a couple of things that you need to remember. First, bed bugs don’t transmit diseases.

Despite what you may hear in popular myths, it’s a scientific fact that bed bugs can’t spread diseases. At best, they are annoying as they trigger severe itching that keeps you up at night.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, the second thing you need to know is that bed bugs can indeed hitch a ride inside your car if your friend lives with an infestation of them at their home. But before you start ripping apart the seat your friend sat on and setting it on fire, know that it might not solve the problem.

Bed bugs can easily fall off your friend’s clothes and land in various places inside your car. This means those bed bugs can invade areas like the seatbelts, underneath the mats, inside the tiny grooves of your car, and practically everywhere else that they can get access to.

Your mind right now is probably filled with all those bed bugs laying hundreds of eggs inside your car, multiplying over time, and soon taking over your house.

However, fear not, as such a thing is unlikely to happen because there’s a high chance you don’t have any bed bugs in your car.

How Likely Can Bed Bugs Infest Your Car?

The image depicts a large billboard that displays the alarming message, "Bed Bug Outbreak."

I guess it depends on the situation. But if you let your friend ride with you for a while and, after they leave, find out that there’s a bed bug infestation in their home, then the chances that they brought an additional friend with them to your car are slim. Why is that so?

Well, bed bugs don’t like it when their unsuspecting prey keeps moving around. That’s why they usually only show up at night when you’re asleep and not moving.

That doesn’t mean your friend can’t bring bed bugs into your car. It’s just that the chances of that happening are quite small, and at most, a couple of bed bugs will find their way inside your car.

Still, if you routinely pick up your friend and drop them off at their place with your car, then the likelihood of bed bugs invading your car gets significantly higher.

Further, with a name like that, you’d think that bed bugs just live in beds. However, that’s entirely untrue.

Bed bugs can pretty much live everywhere. But they prefer places with plenty of human activity.

So if you’re hoping that bed bugs will die if you leave your car alone for a couple of days, then that’s not happening. The nymphs can survive for several days to a few months without any access to food. And more mature bed bugs can last longer than that—a year or more at most.

Five Signs That Show Bed Bugs Running Wild Inside Your Car

Luckily for you, a bed bug infestation doesn’t happen overnight. Unlike other insects, bedbugs don’t reproduce quickly.

An adult female bed bug can only produce one egg per day, nothing more and nothing less. And the hatching process takes around a week and a half. To grow into their adult forms, they will need another five to six weeks at least.

A detailed infographic illustrating the lifecycle of bedbugs.

So before they start doubling over time, you’ve got to stop them. However, are there ways to tell whether your car is on the brink of a bed bug infestation or suffering from one already?

If so, there are a few physical signs that you can always look out for. All of these factors will help you decide whether you are just being paranoid or if you have bed bugs crawling inside your car.

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Reddish Stains

The image shows reddish stains of bed bugs on a car seat, highlighting the potential presence of bedbugs after someone with an infestation sat in the car

If you find small spots of reddish stains in various places of the car’s interior, usually on the seats or on the mats below your feet, that’s a strong sign that bed bugs are crawling around inside your vehicle.

What are those reddish stains, you ask? Those are the dead bed bugs that you have accidentally crushed underfoot or sat on.

Dark Spots

Dark spots of bedbugs are visible on a car seat

Speaking of spots and stains, another sign that tells you that bed bugs reside in your car’s interior is the presence of dark spots.

They look like little dots from some distance, but if you accidentally press them into your car seat, for instance, they will stain the fabric. It is the bedbugs’ poop that makes those dark spots.

Shed Skin

This image captures the molting process of bedbugs as they shed their exoskeletons.

Most insects go through molts as they grow older. So if you find a few shed-skin pieces of bed bugs inside your car, that means they’re doing well there.

What do those shed skin pieces look like? They have a light brown color that, most of the time, turns yellowish.

Small Eggs

The image depicts bedbug eggs that resemble grains of rice.

Contrary to what many people believe, you can see bed bugs with the naked eye. Of course, they are small, but they’re not so small that they become invisible.

And, if we look at their eggs, we’ll find them too. Although they are barely noticeable, you can spot them easily if there are plenty of them in one area. They have this white to yellowish color and resemble grains of rice in shape.

Itchiness

A man experiencing discomfort from a bed bug bite inside his car.

Last but not least, when you start scratching yourself, and find that you have a few red spots on your arms and legs. In that case, there’s a high chance that bed bugs are nesting in your car’s interior and maybe your house by now.

Don’t ignore the itchiness. It’s the most obvious sign that there’s something wrong that requires your immediate attention to prevent a bed bug infestation.

Five Absolute Best Methods To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs From Your Car

Now that you can confirm whether or not your friend did indeed bring bed bugs inside your car unknowingly, it’s time for you to plan and prepare how to deal with these unwanted guests.

Components used for eliminating bed bugs from a car are showcased in this whiteboard image.

Then again, before you try to pick up a flamethrower and set your car, and maybe your house, on fire, remember that there are much better and safer ways to get rid of bed bugs. It’s not as satisfying as roasting those bed bugs to ashes, but these methods are still pretty effective.

Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth  is widely recognized for its remarkable ability to eliminate bed bugs and other crawling insects.

If you plan on getting rid of the bed bugs yourself, most professionals and those who have dealt with bed bugs in the past recommend that diatomaceous earth is the way to go.

Usually, diatomaceous earth comes in two grades. These two are the garden/pool grade and food grade.

Pool/Garden Grade

This grade of diatomaceous earth is mainly for filtration purposes. Never try to use it anywhere near your home, garden, or places where plenty of people and animals gather. That’s because it contains high concentrations of crystalline silica, which is bad for both human and animal health.

Food Grade

On the other hand, food-grade diatomaceous silica contains less than a percent of crystalline silica. That’s what makes it ideal for use in food preservation and pest control.

So what does this all mean? Quite simple.

In other words, it means that food-grade diatomaceous earth is your friend when combating unwanted pests like bed bugs. Though it’s better to wear a face mask, a pair of gloves, and overalls when sprinkling it all over your car, it’s a safety precaution.

Diatomaceous earth acts as a dry agent for most pests. Close contact with this product will lead to the exterior skeleton of the bed bugs flaking off, which leads to bleeding and eventually dries them out to death.

Let the diatomaceous earth remain inside your car for several days to almost two weeks to achieve the best results. Afterward, make sure to clean your car out properly.

What happens when you accidentally inhale diatomaceous earth or get it in your eye?

Well, you’re likely going to experience minor rashes, skin irritation, dryness in the eyes, and excessive coughing. Moreover, exposure to the pool or garden-grade diatomaceous earth over long periods can allow crystalline silica to accumulate in your lungs, resulting in lung cancer and various lung diseases.

Despite the lack of medical records in humans implicating diatomaceous earth as a reason why someone has lung cancer, Various experiments in rats and rabbits prove that it’s a likely scenario to happen under the right circumstances. So it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Apply Heat

A portable car heater offers a potential solution to deal with the bedbug car infestation—a man sitting in his car with sunlight shining through the windshield.

Applying heat to the affected area is a popular method to exterminate almost anything. And this much is true as well when it comes to bed bugs.

There are several ways to go about using this method. It depends on the situation whether they are effective or not.

Anything that’s over 113 degrees Fahrenheit is more than enough to eliminate those pesky bed bugs from your car. It’s important to note, though, that bed bugs and their eggs need constant exposure to those temperatures for at least an hour to kill them.

One way to do this is by covering most of the car’s interior in plastic sheets or garbage bags before leaving your car under the sun. This works best on a clear, sunny day, as you can expect to see results after a couple of hours.

Another method to eradicate bed bugs using heat is through the help of a portable heater. Although this is not a foolproof way to eliminate those bed bugs, they can flee far away from the heat source and hide in the crevices of your car.

Steam Clean The Car

A professional steam cleans a car interior to eliminate bed bug infestation.

Using a steam cleaner to eradicate bed bugs from your car is one of the easiest and safest methods out there. Apply it correctly, and those bed bugs will die within an hour or less.

Much like how sunlight or a portable heater kills bed bugs, a steam cleaner works on the same principle but much faster and more efficiently. It produces large amounts of steam whose temperatures can reach over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. What a great invention, isn’t it?

Don’t try to direct the steam toward yourself or others. Or else, you’ll end up dealing with a pretty nasty steam burn later.

Additionally, always read the manual first before messing around with the steam cleaner. This is to prevent any unwanted accidents while allowing you to achieve the best results.

For example, you don’t want to direct the steam cleaner too close to where the bed bugs are, or else you risk blowing them away and allowing them to survive.

It’s also worth noting that while this method is by far the safest and easiest, it’s also one of the more expensive ones out there. Compared to using diatomaceous earth, which costs a few bucks or a bit more for a bag, a steam cleaner is worth close to a thousand dollars or even more.

Fumigate The Car

Cars undergoing fumigation to remove bed bugs

For extreme bed bug car infestations, fumigation is likely the last resort. Most people, though, prefer not to use this option if possible.

Why?

It usually involves high amounts of chemical fumes and pesticides, both of which are bad for your health and the environment. That’s why it’s crucial to seek the advice of a professional before undertaking this task.

The upside to using this option, though, is that you’ll eliminate all the bed bugs and eggs, even those hidden in the cracks, small spaces, and corners of the car.

Hire A Pest Management Company

The image portrays a car professional who is well-equipped with pest control management tools. He is seen smiling and giving a thumbs-up sign.

If you don’t have the time to deal with the bed bugs yourself, you can always hire a professional to do the job for you. There’s always a local pest management company wherever you live.

Not only is this safer, but you’re sure to get results. So if you haven’t had much experience dealing with pest infestations, it’s no shame to hire someone else to do it for you.

After Exterminating The Bed Bugs, How To Prevent That Situation From Repeating?

Not allowing your friend to ride along with you is one way to prevent a bed bug infestation. Just hope they won’t retaliate by flinging bed bugs from afar towards you and your car. All kidding aside, there are a few things that you need to be aware of when trying to prevent a bed bug infestation in the future.

First, always clean your car.

Whether or not you’re the only passenger of the week or you picked up a few friends, keeping your car clean regularly keeps those pesky bed bugs away. Take out all the rugs and mats before you start vacuuming your car’s interior. Also, make sure that you get into those tight spaces and crevices while cleaning.

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Get 2+ Years of Protection With This Scratch & Chemical Resistant Coating

★★★★★ 

6k+ Verified Customer Reviews

Redline Shine is a 7H hardness polysiloxane ceramic coating that protects your vehicle from grime, contaminants & chemicals. You’ll get up to 2 years of protection even in the harshest conditions.

If possible, get your car a steam cleaning every once in a while. Either you do it yourself or have a professional do it for you. This keeps your car clean and free from any pests, especially if you went out of town recently for a trip.

Next, make sure to check the sleeping areas when you go out of town for a trip. Be it a camping trip or a mountain hike, bed bugs can hitch a ride on your bag or clothes if you are not careful.

The same is the case when going out to public places. Ensure the general area is relatively clean to avoid bringing in unwanted pests inside your car. Bringing home a souvenir or two is good when coming back from a trip. Just check that bed bugs are not one of those souvenirs.

On top of that, bed bugs can enter a hibernation state to help fight off the cold. So even if you reach the correct temperatures, those bed bugs can still survive.

By the time winter goes away, they’ll wake up from their slumber and start becoming a pain to deal with once more.

  • Published on Jul 26, 2023