How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles in Your Car: A Complete Guide



Finding carpet beetles crawling around in your car’s interior can be unsettling. These tiny pests love to feed on natural fibers and can damage upholstery, carpeting, and other parts over time. Getting rid of a carpet beetle infestation quickly is key to preventing costly repairs.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about eliminating carpet beetles from your vehicle for good. As professional carpet cleaning experts, we’ve helped countless customers tackle tricky carpet beetle problems over the years. Read on for tips and solutions from the pros.

What are Carpet Beetles?

Carpet beetles are common household insects that feed on materials of animal origin. They earned their name because they frequently infest carpeting, but also target other items like wool clothing, blankets, furniture stuffing, and more.

There are several varieties of carpet beetle, but the two most problematic are:

  • Common carpet beetles: These are the most widespread, about 1/16 to 1/8 inches long, with distinct white, brown, and yellow scales on their oval bodies.

  • Varied carpet beetles: Slightly larger at 1/8 to 1/4 inches, these have orange and yellow scales with dark blue and black mottled patches on their wings.

Adult carpet beetles you see roaming around don’t cause damage. The real culprits are the larvae they produce, which are tiny, hairy grubs about 1/16 inch long. The larvae hatch and feed continuously on fabrics and dead insect parts until pupating into adults about 40-90 days later.

Do Carpet Beetles Infest Cars?

Carpet beetles need protein-rich materials like hair, skin flakes, spilled food, and pet dander to survive. These are prevalent in household carpeting but can also accumulate in cars over time. Areas like floor mats, upholstery, and carpeted trunks offer suitable food sources.

Your car’s interior is not their ideal habitat. But carpet beetles may wander inside if you:

  • Park near an infested area like your garage or home.

  • Transport infested clothing, blankets, or other textiles in the vehicle.

  • Leave doors or windows open in warm seasons.

  • Have pet hair, dander, and dirt accumulate in carpeted areas.

Once inside, they can lay hundreds of tiny eggs that hatch into fabric-damaging larvae. An unchecked beetle infestation can ruin your vehicle’s upholstery, carpeting, and seats.

Signs of Carpet Beetles in Your Car

Catching an infestation early makes elimination much quicker and easier. Here are some telltale signs carpet beetles may have invaded your car’s interior:

  • Holes in fabric: Chewed holes, missing nibbles, or threadbare patches on upholstery.

  • Carpet damage: Thin slices or pits eaten out of carpeting fibers. Most noticeable around edges and under seats.

  • Cast skins: Beetle larvae shed their skin several times as they grow. Look for small yellowish shells shed during growth.

  • Bugs crawling around: Seeing live adult beetles is a sure sign. Check under seats, on carpets, and around headliners.

  • Frass: Tiny piles of debris or excrement left by larvae. May look like grains of pepper.

  • Musty odor: Noticeable musty or stale scent from secretions.

Finding any signs of an active infestation means it’s time to take action before things get worse.

How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles in Your Car

Eliminating a carpet beetle infestation completely requires diligence and thoroughness. Here are the steps we recommend to our customers:

Remove Personal Items and Thoroughly Vacuum

  • Remove any clothing, blankets, towels, trash, food, and other belongings from the car. These items could be infested and need to be checked.

  • Use a handheld vacuum to thoroughly clean all carpeted and fabric areas. Get under seats, around seat belts and seat edges, inside crevices, and anywhere larvae could hide. The suction removes all life stages of beetles.

  • Empty the vacuum or replace bags immediately after into a sealed plastic bag to prevent re-infestation.

Steam Clean Infested Areas

  • Use a handheld fabric steamer, available at most stores. Hold the nozzle just above carpets, fabric, and upholstery and steam slowly for 15-20 seconds per square foot.

  • Check seams, tufts, edges, folds, and high-traffic areas closely. The combination of heat and moisture flushes out and kills all life stages.

  • A thorough pass with the steamer helps remove eggs and larvae that may have been missed.

Use Targeted Sprays if Needed

  • For more severe cases, use an aerosol spray labeled for carpet beetles on fabrics. Apply a light coating to infested areas only, not entire surfaces.

  • Look for natural sprays containing plant oils like peppermint, clove, and thyme oil which kill beetles on contact.

  • Avoid spraying onto leather, plastic, or vinyl parts which could stain or warp from chemicals.

Isolate Infested Items and Freeze Below 32°F

  • Place any belongings removed from the car in sealed plastic bags and freeze for 1-2 weeks. This kills all life stages without chemicals.

  • When freezing isn’t practical, have the items professionally cleaned using high heat. Kill beetles in clothing by running on high heat dryer cycles.

Continue Monitoring and Repeat as Needed

  • Keep inspecting under seats and carpeted areas each week for 1-2 months. Larvae and eggs can be well hidden and take time to fully emerge.

  • Repeat vacuuming, steaming, spraying, and freezing steps as needed until no signs remain. Be diligent and thorough to prevent bounced back infestations.

Tips for Preventing Carpet Beetles in Your Car

Once eliminated, keep these tips in mind to help prevent future carpet beetle problems:

  • Inspect vehicles parked in garages or near vegetation for hitchhikers before driving. Look under floor mats and seats.

  • Vacuum carpets frequently to remove food spills, pet hair, dander, and debris that attract beetles.

  • Avoid parking near known infested areas when possible. Close windows if parked outside for long periods.

  • Routinely wash vehicle carpets and upholstery to eliminate odors, stains, and organic materials.

  • Remove trash and clutter promptly. Even small crumbs can feed larvae for weeks.

  • Shake out and vacuum floor mats regularly. Mats placed over beetle-infested carpeting can pick up eggs and larvae.

  • Inspect stored blankets, clothing, toys, and other fabrics for signs of beetles before placing in vehicle. Keep infested items isolated.

When to Call for Professional Help

For severe carpet beetle infestations, the insect experts at Eagle’s Eye Carpet Cleaning have the tools and know-how to eliminate these pests for good. We can provide:

  • Steam cleaning using professional-grade, truck-mounted equipment to penetrate deepest fibers.

  • Commercial-strength pesticides approved for auto interiors.

  • Extended warranties guaranteeing elimination with retreatments if needed.

  • Treatment of related infestations in your home. We rid all life stages and prevent spread.

Don’t let carpet beetles destroy your vehicle’s interior. At the first signs of trouble, contact our office for an inspection and fast, effective solutions. We’re here to help protect your investment.

How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles (4 Easy Steps)

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