How to Get Rid of Ants in the Car Successfully? Best 2023 Guide!

Driving around in the car should be a pleasant experience, but it can quickly turn sour if you discover ants crawling about. This unwelcome presence not only turns your journey into a nuisance but also poses potential health dangers when left unchecked. Fortunately, getting rid of these pesky insects doesn't have to be daunting!

In this guide, we'll break down our tips and tricks on how to get rid of ants in the car - giving you back that freedom to relax while on the go.


Take Away Key Points:

  • Ants can be tough opponents, and they can easily damage your car interior if you don't pay too much attention
  • The best way is not to set an ant bait to kill the ants but to remove the food and water sources and everything else that will attract them and ruin your motor vehicle
  • You have various natural ingredients to make a natural ant killer and ensure they will not return to your car anymore

Getting rid of ants: The most effective ways!

If you struggle with ant infestations in your motor vehicle and need to find the best ways to eliminate these pests, below you can find the best methods.

Read the guide thoroughly and find the best steps to ensure the best car experience!

1. Why is there an ant colony in your car?

ants in car how to get rid of them

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to an ant infestation in vehicles. Some of the most common causes include:

- exposure to food, whether from crumbs left in cupholders or even a french fry dropped on the floor mats;

- an inviting, warm environment for nesting, such as carpenter ants seeking out rotten tree stumps;

- plants or bugs being transported in the car;

- bad parking spots near trees or other areas where ants may be actively colonizing; and

- accessible openings that make it easier for ants to enter the vehicle.

2. What type of ants lives in your car?

Any type of outdoor ants can be found in cars, but it's essential to identify which ones you may have been bitten by. Common ant species include:

- Pavement ants: These ant species are the most common types and nest in soil along the edges of pavement or patios.

- Red imported fire ants: Red imported fire ants live in subtropical southeastern USA states, typically near oily or greasy food sources.

- Pharaoh ants: These ants favor warm and humid areas near food and water sources, while argentine ants nest outside buildings with a constant moisture source.

- Sugar ants: These ants, also known as banded sugar ants, inhabit suburban areas and prefer warm, humid climates.

- Worker ants: These ants are persistent, as they find food sources and create pheromone trails for more ants to come and make nests. The pheromone trail will mark the route for others, and you will have various colonies unless you clean the car of all food and drinks.

3. How will an ant colony damage your car?

Ant bites can be painful, but some species of ants can also damage your vehicle. For instance, red imported fire ants have the potential to take over electrical circuits and cause short circuits in the car. If you suspect an ant colony in your vehicle, it is recommended that you contact a professional exterminator.

Ants can also strip away insulation from the door padding and internals, leading to further damage. In addition, ants may leave behind a sticky residue that can attract dust and dirt, leading to clogged air filters and other issues.

4. How to best get rid of ants in your car?

To get rid of ants in your car successfully, follow the steps below. We have provided you with crucial details to eliminate all the ants damaging the confined space of your vehicle.

Step 1: Inspection

To begin with, take a look at the spot where you parked your car - did you park near an ant hill that could create an ant infestation? If so, move it away quickly and avoid parking in such areas. 

It's not likely that a colony is living in your car, but the ants may have been searching for food or water and found their way inside this way.

In addition, examine the interior of your vehicle and check the seat covers, glove compartment, floor mats, and fender wells to see if any ants underneath your mats are present. This might be due to pheromone trails they've left in your car. So, ensure you inspect all the areas to find and get rid of ants.

Step 2: Removing the food source and water

Firstly, take out any food source items in your car - including groceries and bottled water. Then, dispose of all food wrappers, soda cans, and candy wrappers that might attract ants. 

For good measure, vacuum the gaps between and underneath the back seats and the front of your car. This is an essential step in successfully keeping ants away from your vehicle, as it eliminates any potential food sources for them.

Step 3: Using hot temperature to get rid of ants in your car

Park your vehicle in direct sunlight - the inside of the car can become hot, even reaching temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit in less than an hour, which is enough to obliterate ants and other living creatures.

You can start the car and leave the heater running for around 10 minutes to make things go faster. This will eradicate any ants inside your car that may be foraging in the engine compartment.

Step 4: Steam-cleaning to get rid of ants in your car

Use a steam cleaner to thoroughly wipe clean your car, removing any ant infestations and food source types that have been soaked into the floor. This will also disinfect your vehicle without any chemicals and won't attract ants into your car interior anymore.

The Fortador Volt Mini is an ideal option - it can reach temperatures up to 338 degrees Fahrenheit and comes with various accessories. Be sure to steam all your interior surfaces to find more ants underneath the hard-to-reach areas, but don't put it too close, or you could damage your car.

Additionally, don't forget to check places like the wheel wells, underneath the hood, and undercarriage, as other ants may still be hiding in these areas even after vacuuming and steaming.

Step 5: Vacuuming to pick up food crumbs and dirt

The simplest way to eliminate ants in your car is by using a vacuum.

If you do not want to damage your vacuum, you can opt for any self-service car wash and use their vacuum cleaners.

Those vacuums might not seem like a lot, but they have enough power to suck up all the ants in your car together with the greasy foods, spilled food, and other food sources the ants inside your vehicle like.

Vacuum inside your vehicle like you usually would, starting with the seats and upholstery and working your way down to the floor. Also, do not miss the hard-to-reach spots because there might be food those ants come to eat.

Even though you might not be able to get rid of all the ants, this step will help you prevent other ants from coming in, and you will get rid of all food containers quickly.

Step 6: Using essential oils to get rid of ants in your car

Ants aren't so keen on fragrances that humans enjoy. Because of this, essential oils or an ant spray are an excellent method to kill ants and prevent ants from coming to your car, house, and elsewhere.

The best essential oils for this purpose include peppermint, citrus, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and rosewood. Mix two to three drops of these in a 24-ounce spray bottle filled with water.

Spray this solution in nooks and crannies between the back seat and other hard-to-reach areas. Do not overdo it though; start light and spray again if you don't think it's enough to ruin the nest and solve the ant problem.

5. What you must avoid when solving the ant problem in your car?

how do you get rid of ants in the car

When getting rid of ants in your car, there are specific steps you should not perform for the best results. Let's see what they are:

Using an ant spray

Ant spray in your car is not recommended due to the confined space - air won't circulate adequately enough to allow it to vent out. Also, boric acid is not allowed in the car, although you might spray only a little.

The effects of the boric acid will last for years to come, and you will inhale the chemicals all the time. Therefore, it should only be used as a last resort, as most sprays contain pyrethroid insecticides which can deplete oxygen levels and often stain upholstery.

Using ant baits

Placing ant baits in gel form or with ant bait stations is not advised for cars. An ant bait would only lead to more ants coming inside! Most ant baits are also labeled for household use. So, it cannot repel ants and kill an ant nest inside your vehicle.

Using ant traps

Ant traps should not be used in a car, as the glue inside them may attach itself to the floor and cause permanent damage.

Also, small children may want to touch the ant bait, which can be toxic if touched. Although they might seem practical with the foraging ants, these types of ant bait are not the best solution.

6. How to prevent ants from coming into your car?

There are successful ways to kill ants and solve the ant problem in your car. These include the following techniques:

- To avoid ants in your car, it's best to park on paved areas and avoid hills. Such a parking spot will prevent pests from ruining your car's interior. Also, you will not have to pay the repair costs.

- Look out for any ant activity around the vehicle before entering or putting anything inside.

- Keeping the car clean and free of food and inspecting items before bringing them into the car is essential. Although some ants might prefer rotten tree stumps, the food in your vehicle will attract them to make nests and colonies for more damage.

- Essential oil spray can help with pest control if you've previously had issues with bugs or ants.

7. Other methods to speed things up and destroy an ant nest

In extreme cases, hiring a pest control expert may be necessary if your car is overrun with ants. A professional pest control ant killer can also be beneficial even if the ant infestation isn't severe. 

To protect against future problems with ants, be sure not to eat in the car or thoroughly clean any dropped food immediately, so they cannot find food and make a nest in your vehicle. Vacuuming up crumbs and other food sources is especially important to repel ants and keep your car interior clean.

Use only an appropriate spray bottle to spray the hardware store and leave your car for a few hours to get the best results. You could also produce boxes for persistent ants and other insects.


What kills ants in a car?

The best way is to clean your car thoroughly or use natural ingredients. For example, mix two cups of water, three tablespoons of salt, and three tablespoons of Dawn soap in a spray bottle. Then, you can spray the mixture on the ants directly or use the mixture to clean your car.

Why would ants be in my car?

what to do when ants get in your car

The most valid reason for ants being in your car is that you have left them food and water sources, so they can feed and make nests inside your motor vehicle. To prevent this, you must thoroughly clean your car interior and remove all potential food and water sources that attract pests.

Can ants ruin your car?

Yes, ants can ruin your car. They can attack the switches, cables, and other electrical devices and systems in general and cause you costly repairs

Final thoughts

As you can see, how to get rid of ants in the car can be pretty tough and will cause costly damage to your vehicle when you don't pay too much attention to the interior.

The best way to prevent annoying pests is to remove all food and water sources, to ensure they will not be attracted by them and won't create colonies inside your car.

If you cannot manage to do so, you can try natural mixtures or pest control specialists who will finish the job for you.

Avatar of Kathy Warner

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

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