How To Get Rid Of Carpet Beetles In Car (Natural and Safe Home Methods)

how to get rid of carpet beetles in car

Carpet beetle infestations are among the worst pests to have in any vehicle; they breed quickly and cause considerable damage to carpets, upholstery, and other fabrics while feeding on organic matter.

They can hitch a ride on your clothing leading to an infestation in your home, or workplace. There are approximately 400 species of carpet beetles in the world, with around 20 species found in North America.

Learn how to get rid of carpet beetles in the car effectively (hint: these fabric-munching beetles can be killed with steam). Let’s get started:

What Are Carpet Beetles?

carpet beetle

Carpet beetles are small, oval-shaped insects that feed on natural fibers such as wool, fur, and feathers, and other debris such as lint, dust and pet dander. These little black bugs can be found in homes, warehouses, millinery shops, museums, zoos and other locations where organic material is accessible.

Carpet beetles vary in size from 1/16th to 3/8th inch long depending on the species. The most common carpet beetle species are black or brown in color with white scales across their wings.

The most common species of carpet beetles in North America include the black carpet beetle (Attagenus unicolor), the varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci), and the furniture carpet beetle (Anthrenus flavipes).

The larvae of these pests usually cause more damage than adult carpet beetles because they consume fabrics. Carpet beetles inside the car occur when these creatures enter through open doors or windows and search for food sources. 

Signs of an infestation of carpet beetles include small holes in carpets and fabric surfaces caused by larvae-feeding activity, along with piles of shed skins left behind during their molting process. 

Identifying Carpet Beetles In Your Car

Identification begins with recognizing signs of activity including shed skins and fecal pellets. The most common areas to find hiding carpet beetles are dark crevices or tight spaces such as around the door handles and under seats. 

Also check the glove compartment, seat pockets, sun visors, floor mats and carpets. Looking for tell-tale signs like shed skins or larval droppings helps determine whether there has been activity in those areas recently.

Adult beetles can also be identified by looking at their size, shape, and coloring. They tend to have an oval-shaped body measuring six millimeters long covered with a patterned wing coverings. Colors range from reddish brown to black with yellowish scales along the margins of the wings. Larvae look like tiny worms and measure up to 10 millimeters long; they tend to have longer bodies than adult beetles but lack wings.

An ultraviolet light or blacklight may also be used since some beetle species glow under a dark light when illuminated. This is due to the presence of chemicals on their exoskeleton such as porphyrins. 

Potential Health Risks From Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetle larvae are known to consume materials over long periods of time and produce dust particles that contain fungi spores which, when inhaled, can lead to respiratory problems with asthma-like symptoms. 

The movement of these insects themselves could cause skin irritation on contact. Some people might experience allergic reactions due to exposure to proteins found on their bodies or in their excrement.

Assessing The Damage From Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles primarily feed on wool, fur, feathers, pet hair, dander, dust, lint and more. Imagine your leather car seats filled with tiny holes or scattered with piles of insect droppings! Carpet beetle larvae leave visible signs including:

  • holes in fabrics;
  • shed skins;
  • excrement stains;
  • discoloration due to feeding; and
  • clumps of hair-like material around nests.

What Causes Carpet Beetles In Cars?

The most common source of a carpet beetle infestation in your car is from the outdoor environment. Adult beetles lay their eggs on plants or vegetation near the car. If you park your car around a lot of vegetation or under a tree, you may notice the presence of tiny black bugs in your car. These are most likely carpet beetles.

The larvae then crawl into any open spaces near the vehicle and make their way inside. Other potential sources include second-hand items such as clothing or furniture brought into the car, pet hair, bird nests or rodent droppings left behind in garages and storage areas adjacent to the car.

Beating the Beetles With a Vacuum and Steam Cleaner

vacuuming and steam cleaning a car

You must thoroughly clean your car to begin eliminating carpet beetles. Vacuums with a beater bar are effective at removing larvae, adult beetles, and carpet beetle eggs. To ensure complete removal of these pests, follow the steps below:

  • Thoroughly vacuum your vehicle multiple times to remove live insects and debris.
  • Focus on seams, cracks and crevices, car seat covers, and underneath floor mats.
  • Use a stiff brush to scrub off dirt from cracks or seams – this often reveals potential hiding spots.
  • Dispose of the vacuum bag after use to avoid re-infestation. Proper disposal of materials and carpet beetles is critical to effective long-term control. 
  • Get out your steam cleaner and steam every nook and cranny you can get to inside your car.

In addition to vacuuming, you should also deep clean carpets by shampooing them using enzymes that break down proteins found in insect bodies. This will help reduce infestations and keep your car free from carpet beetle activity for longer periods of time.

It’s also important to keep your car clean. Clean interior door panels, dash, and center console areas to prevent future invasions. Vacuuming regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner can also successfully remove beetle eggs before they hatch into larvae.

Natural Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Carpet Beetles in a Car

essential oils for pest control

The relentless search for effective ways to rid oneself of carpet beetles can be a Herculean task. From insecticides to natural home remedies, the struggle against these destructive pests appears never-ending. Fortunately, there are some reliable methods that have been proven successful in the fight against carpet beetles. 

Essential Oils

Tea tree, lavender, peppermint, cedar, or eucalyptus oil may help repel carpet beetles when applied directly onto fabrics within the car interior.

I’d stick to placing a drop or two on dark colored carpet, oils can cause staining. Alternatively, dilute the oils in a carrier oil before spraying. These two scents can be strong smelling and overwhelming when used in excess, particularly in confined spaces such as inside a car. 

Steam Cleaners

A steam cleaner will kill carpet beetles hiding in carpet on your car floor. This will help to break the breeding cycle.

Cedarwood Chips

Create a natural car fragrance by placing cedarwood chips inside an organza or mesh bag and place under the seats of your car. This will create a scent barrier that repels these bugs in your car.

Boric Acid

Scatter boric acid generously on the carpet and vacuum it after two or three hours to eliminate the beetles, larvae, and eggs. Be mindful: boric acid may have adverse reactions on your pets. Keep your dog, cat or other pet away from your car for several hours after treatment. 

How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles in Car (When All Else Fails…)

I’m not an advocate for chemicals, much preferring to let steam work it magic when it comes to home pest control. But if you have a carpet beetle problem that you can’t manage yourself, engaging the services of an experienced pest control company is often the best option for eliminating this problem in cars.

Exterminator services provide highly effective treatments that target all stages of the carpet beetle life cycle: adults, larvae, eggs and pupae. Highly trained technicians inspect carpet beetle infestation inside cars.

They then use carpet beetle insecticide to kill insects directly or disrupt their reproductive cycles so it becomes impossible for them to reproduce. Extermination also involves removing potential sources of food from your car’s interior such as pet hair or dust accumulations which may encourage further outbreaks.

In addition to using chemical treatments, exterminators will advise owners about preventive measures to keep future problems with beetles at bay. These include regularly vacuuming out your car’s interior and washing its carpets and upholstery if possible; sealing off entry points into cracks and crevices where these creatures might enter; ensuring there isn’t any moisture buildup in hidden areas; and keeping clothing, food wrappers and other organic materials that carpet beetles like to eat out of the car. Taking proactive steps now can help prevent carpet beetles from returning.

Prevention Tips To Fight Against Carpet Beetles

The first line of defense against carpet beetle infestations is making sure your vehicle stays clean on both the inside and outside. Regularly vacuuming carpets and upholstery helps remove any eggs or larvae that may be present in fabrics. Ideally, use a high-powered vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and vacuum weekly.

Avoiding eating food inside the vehicle also reduces their attraction as they feed off crumbs and other debris left behind. 

Inspect second-hand items before bringing them into your car to ensure they are free of any adult or larval stages of carpet beetles. Items should be washed at hot temperatures (over 50°C) or dry-cleaned prior to being placed inside the vehicle in order to kill any remaining insects or eggs that might have been missed during the inspection process. 

Pheromone traps can assist in detecting adult beetle activity quickly so that appropriate action can be taken accordingly.

These measures help prevent car beetles returning and reduce the chances of introducing these unwanted guests into your car’s environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

carpet beetle on fabric

How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of Carpet Beetles?

Steam kills carpet beetles and their larvae on contact. Any missed larvae take up to two weeks to hatch. If you have the time, vacuum and steam clean your car daily for at least two weeks until you are sure you are rid of beetles inside.

What Are The Most Effective Insecticides For Carpet Beetles?

Insecticides such as pyrethrin-based sprays and dust formulations have shown promising results in getting rid of the carpet beetle, including those such as diatomaceous earth sprinkled around cracks and crevices.

How Often Should I Inspect My Car For Carpet Beetles?

Inspecting regularly helps prevent the build-up of large numbers of carpet beetles inside a vehicle over time. It is recommended to check your car every month at least once to spot any potential infestation early on before the problem escalates further. If there are visible signs of an infestation then more frequent inspections would be advisable until it has been adequately addressed with appropriate measures such as vacuuming and cleaning with insecticides if needed.


Carpet beetles are a common pest worldwide, with an estimated 75% of households in the United States having experienced at least one infestation. A single female adult beetle can lay up to 100 eggs at once. You can easily see how they can infest your car quickly.

Luckily, steam is a safe and natural way to kill carpet beetles and their eggs. Carpet beetles can’t withstand the high heat of steam, causing these little black bugs to die on contact. While carpet beetles can easily get into cars, they are also easy to get rid of using your steam cleaner. Give your car a thorough steam treatment once a week to ensure any remaining beetles are eradicated. 

Ultimately though, prevention is key when it comes to avoiding a full-blown infestation. Preventing bugs like carpet beetles from getting inside cars is easier than removing carpet beetles, so remember – steam is the answer! 


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