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Help! How Do I Get Rid of the Ants in My Car?

  • Car Care Tips
  • Renee Martin
  • 8 minutes

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You’re driving along on your merry way when you notice an ant walking up your hand. Aghast, you look closer, and they are everywhere! Sometimes these tiny, annoying, and most unwelcome guests decide to hitch a ride in your car. What do you do now? Here’s how you get rid of ants in your car.

The fact is, ant infestations are more frequent than you might think, and they can cause significant, costly damage to your car if left unchecked. While picking up these tiny hitchhikers isn’t something you’ll often do, you’ll need a foolproof plan to get rid of them as soon as possible if it does happen. Here, we’ll discuss why ants get in your car and some tips for getting rid of them.

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Why are there ants in my car?

The only reason ants will enter your vehicle is to look for food. Finding ants crawling around can cause immediate distress. However, you should know that ants entering your car probably aren’t planning to make a permanent home out of it. Ants aren’t hunting for a new home so much as they are looking for food or warmth.

So if you’re seeing ants crawling across your car, there are a few potential explanations.

Food, glorious food!

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Possible food sources include everything from fallen crumbs on the floor mats to discarded food wrappers in the cupholder. Ants will invade any food source, no matter how tiny the remnants of a meal might be, only to get their little legs on them.

A warm place to live

via GIPHY

Ants, like people, can suffer from hypothermia if the temperature drops too low. They may be scoping out your vehicle for a new home. Carpenter ants, for instance, prefer rotting tree stumps over human-made constructions, but they will nest in houses if they are warm enough.

Plants

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So that plant looked so adorable in the market that you just had to have it. But it could’ve been infested with ants that crawled out during the ride home!

Haphazard parking

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It may have seemed like a good idea to park beneath a tree so that your car would be out of the sun, but you may have unknowingly disturbed an ant colony. That’s why we recommend you find a safe parking spot using Way.com!

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Car openings

This is one thing that’s probably out of our hands how easy it is for ants to get inside any car, thanks to the several cracks and crevices they’ll find.

How can ants damage my car?

Fire ants and other common ant species can cause serious problems for your vehicle by invading its wiring and causing a short circuit. Some ants may be drawn to electrical components like relays, switches, and wiring insulation. The bad news is that it can be very expensive to fix damage to these auto parts.

How to get rid of the ants in your car

Check your car

If you notice ants in your vehicle, you should look first at where you parked. Did you possibly hit an ant hill when you parked there? If so, you should get your car out of the road as soon as possible.

Although it’s unlikely that your car is home to a whole colony of ants, you may encounter some wandering in search of sustenance or hydration. The ants will find those two items in your car if you happen to have them.

The next step is to inspect the inside of your car. Please double-check trouble spots like

  • Fender wells
  • Seat covers
  • Glove boxes
  • Floor mats
  • Engine compartment

An ant infestation need not be present for there to be ants in certain places. For whatever reason, ants occasionally leave pheromone trails leading to your vehicle.

Remove temptations

Take out the trash immediately if there are any perishables, such as food, water, and other liquids. Then get rid of all the fast-food wrappers, empty soda cans, and other garbage. Also, check the spaces between the seats and under the chairs for food crumbs and candy wrappers, and clean them up.

Get rid of any food that can attract rodents from inside your vehicle. Doing this can greatly improve your odds of successfully eradicating your ant infestation.

Park your car in the sun

In the summer, the car’s interior can get quite warm. In less than an hour, your car can reach temperatures exceeding 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to quickly kill any ants that may have found their way inside. You can further speed things along by killing any ants in the engine compartment by starting the car and leaving the heating on for around 10 minutes.

Steam clean your car

To remove the ants and the food that has seeped into the floor of your automobile, use a steam cleaner. Try steaming the entire interior and the air conditioning vents to clean your automobile without different chemicals.

With a maximum temperature of 338 degrees Fahrenheit, the Fortador Volt Mini is an excellent compact steamer. It has several interchangeable attachments that will prove useful in ridding your automobile of ants and comes at no extra cost.

You may safely steam your car’s interior without worrying about damaging anything, provided you don’t get too close to the surfaces. Even after you’ve steamed and vacuumed your car thoroughly, ants may hide in hard-to-reach spots like the wheel wells, undercarriage, and under the hood.

Break out the vacuum cleaner

Using a vacuum cleaner available at a car wash near you is the most effective method of removing ants from your vehicle. These handy appliances are powerful enough to engulf an entire colony of ants. So in the usual fashion, begin vacuuming the upholstery and work your way down to the floor. Make sure you get under the seats too. Not every ant will be killed in this process, but you should eliminate most of them.

Get rid of ants naturally with essential oils

Here’s the thing – ants usually dislike the smells that humans like. Because of this, essential oil sprays are a wonderful do-it-yourself option for naturally warding off ants in your car. You might want to consider the following:

  • Citrus
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Rosewood

Fill a 32-ounce spray bottle with water and add two to three drops of your preferred flavorings. Then, spray softly in places nobody will see, like behind the seats and by the doors. Make sure you don’t go overboard and repel humans along with the ants!

What not to do while trying to get rid of ants in your car

Use ant spray

Any car, regardless of size, is too small to properly ventilate all of its insides before using an ant spray. You can give it a shot as a last resort, but it’s not advised. Most ant sprays contain pyrethroid pesticides, which are known to deplete oxygen levels in the environment if used in settings other than homes and workplaces. Moreover, the oils in these treatments are notorious for leaving permanent stains on furniture.

Use baits

Gel baits or bait stations designed to attract ants are also not recommended. As ant traps, these devices are top-notch, but why would you want more ants in your car if you could prevent them? Additionally, most ant baits are approved for use in the home regardless of the presence of ants.

Use ant traps

You shouldn’t keep ant traps in your car because the adhesive they use can permanently adhere to your carpet or floor, in which case you might need to replace them. Ant bait is typically harmful to humans if touched, and this presents a problem if you have young children who may not understand what the traps are for.

How to prevent ants from getting in your car

As the old adage goes- prevention is certainly better than a cure. So here’s how you can keep ants away from your car:

  • Clean up your car.
  • Vacuum regularly.
  • If you spill a drink, clean it up right away.
  • Check for ants in regular parking spots.
  • Get a car wash and deep cleaning done at least once a month.

Will the ants in your car leave on their own?

If ants suddenly show up in your car, they probably came from a nearby nest looking for food. If they don’t find one, they may leave on their own. If they find food, they will leave a pheromone trail that other ants will follow, letting them know that the food source is good.

How long do ants live in cars?

It depends on what kind of ant it is. Male ants only live for a few days to a few weeks, and their only job is to reproduce. On the other hand, worker ants live for a few weeks to a few months. Queen ants can live anywhere from 2 to almost 30 years, depending on the species.

Are ants in cars dangerous?

Species plays a huge role in this. However, depending on your geographic location, the ants in your car may just nip you!

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