How To Get Rid Of Moths In A Car

a beautiful woman leaning out of the car passenger window

There are many reasons that vehicles become infested with household insects. Cars can harbor infestations of creepy-crawlies like spiders, ants, and yes, moths. Moths are mainly problematic if they infest your car and lay eggs that then hatch into larvae and begin damaging the interior. So what can you do? Well, first you will want to understand why moths are in your car to start with. Next, totally clean out (and sanitize) your vehicle. Then, natural moth sprays and repellents can be used to keep those pesky moths away. Read on to learn more!

Why are there moths in my car?

There are a few reasons that moths may get into your car. Moths might decide to get cozy in your vehicle because:

  • Your vehicle contains food or fat residues that attract moths
  • Your vehicle has been sitting dormant for a while
  • The windows were left open
  • You have leather seats, wool upholstery blends, or sheepskin seat covers
  • You live in an area where miller moths migrate (the midwest or the northern US)
  • You have a classic car or older vehicle made with natural glues or similar substances

Many species of moths like secluded locations that are rarely disturbed. In these quiet and still places, pesky moths like Carpet Moths and Clothes Moths lay eggs that hatch into hungry, destructive larvae. Clothes Moth Larvae feed on natural fibers, animal-derived materials, and even some glues. Classic cars and high-end vehicles often use natural fibers like leather or wool on the inside. This can attract moths as well.

Although many modern vehicles use synthetic man-made fibers or plastics in the cabin, sometimes they can still get contaminated with oils or organic materials. Fats, food residues, and greases may also attract moths. So, if you've been eating in your car, this could be why moths have decided to make a home there. This is particularly true in the case of the Indian Meal Moth.

a man drinking and eating in his car

Moreover, the Army Cutworm (miller moth) migrates across the northern United States and midwest starting in spring. The migration can continue all the way through late summer, depending on where you live. These moths aren't especially destructive but can be a real nuisance nonetheless. Miller moths like to hide in dark spaces in the daytime and emerge at dusk to continue migrating. They can squeeze into your vehicle through very small gaps like vents or corroded window seals.

How to Get Rid of Moths in Your Car

If you have an infestation of moths in your vehicle, you must first tackle the underlying problem which, as we have said, may be anything from closing the open car windows, to removing all residues of food . After the root issue is solved, the next step involves cleaning and sanitizing your car. The final step will be maintaining a moth-free zone by sealing gaps, keeping windows closed, and using natural repellents.

Getting rid of a Moth infestation means eliminating any adult moths, killing any eggs, and removing any larvae. Hopefully, you will be able to kill any eggs before they hatch to prevent damage. Then, you will want to use natural repellents and hygienic cleaning methods to keep the moths from coming back.

Although getting rid of moths in your car is a touch more complicated than just shooing them out the window, with some persistence, you can solve the issue and prevent it from recurring.

Since moth bombs and other fumigation products aren't safe to use in certain enclosed spaces, this process can take some work. Natural moth-killing sprays, Moth Traps, vacuums, and elbow grease will be your weapons of choice.

Clean Your Vehicle Thoroughly

To completely eliminate an infestation and prevent reinfestation in the future, you will want to thoroughly clean out and treat your vehicle from top to bottom. Start by wiping your car down with regular cleaning products.

Next, vacuum your whole car. Vacuum your vents, doors, window seals, and all the little cracks and crevices you can reach. If an infestation is inside of a sealed area, open it up and clean it out. Then, you can use sprays that naturally kill moths and moth eggs. Natural moth-killing solutions are available for reasons just like this. Many sprays containing vinegar are safe and effective options to use in cars as well.

a man cleaning out his car with a vacuum cleaner

When cleaning an infestation in a vehicle, natural is best. After all, you don't want to be breathing dangerous chemicals in such an enclosed space.

After spraying down your car and cleaning it out completely, you should shampoo your carpets and upholstery. You will want to be sure to get rid of any hidden eggs or sneaky larvae hiding in dark crevices. You can sprinkle baking soda throughout your carpets while they are wet as well if you like. After everything dries, vacuum again.

Remove All Trash, Freeze Coats and Hats, and Don't Forget the Trunk

Make sure you thoroughly empty your glove box, center console, and trunk (if you have one). If you have a hatch or floor storage spaces, clean there too. Be sure to remove any food wrappings, trash, or natural fabrics that you are keeping in your car. Natural fiber clothing, furry coats, wool hats, leather gloves, and so on, should be removed and frozen for 72 hours. That way, if there are any eggs, they will be killed off before you bring the infestation inside your home.

Preventing a Reinfestation

Once you have eliminated the moth infestation in your vehicle, it is time to take preventive action. If your car is completely cleaned out, you can hang herbal sachets to deter moths from re-entering your vehicle. Even if your windows are rolled up and your car is parked in a garage, moths can still find their way in. Herbal moth deterrent sachets with cedar or lavender will make your vehicle less appealing to moths searching for a home.

Placing Moth Traps in your car will enable you to monitor for any further presence of moths and they will help break the breeding cycle by catching any active adult males. The sticky strips are made using natural pheromones that are safe and child/pet friendly.

the interior of a classic car

Suppose you have a classic car or luxury vehicle that has leather or wool materials on the interior. In that case, you will want to take additional preventive measures to ensure that an infestation doesn't happen again. There are many natural, safe, and effective moth deterrent products available to protect the premium interior fibers of your vehicle.

FAQS: How do you get rid of moths in a car?

Now, let's answer some FAQs about moths in cars!

Why are there moths in my car?

Moths infest vehicles for various reasons. If you are noticing moths in your car, you will want to determine what type of moth you are dealing with. Sometimes, miller moths will find their way into your vehicle, though they rarely cause damage to cars.

However, if you notice Pantry Moths (Indian Meal Moths), Clothes Moths, or Carpet Moths in your car, you may need to clean and then treat your vehicle to prevent any further infestation. Carpet and Pantry Moths are attracted to natural fibers, animal fats, fur, and other textile materials. They lay eggs that hatch into larvae. The hungry larvae can cause damage to your vehicle’s interior as they eat their way through it.

Millers and Garden Moths in a Vehicle

Garden Moths are much larger than Pantry or Clothing/Carpet Moths. Garden Moths are usually triangular in shape and have complicated patterns on their wings. Garden Moths can be white, brown, beige, blue, yellow, and everything in between Garden Moths get into cars when it is rainy or wet outside in the summer to hide. Similarly, miller moths get into cars to avoid the daylight and wait until it's dark to come out. Both of these types of moths won't damage your car but are still annoying. You can simply “shoo” common Garden Moths out the window. In the case of millers, the vacuum comes in handy as well.

the Miller Moth

By Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org, CC BY 3.0 us, Link

Carpet Moths, Clothes Moths, and Pantry Moths in Car

Pantry and Clothes Moths are smaller and less ornate. Usually, these destructive little moths are brownish or beige in color. Garden Moths are usually larger than ½ inch long, while Pantry and Carpet Moths are about ¼ inch long. So how to get rid of Pantry Moths in car spaces? Simple: eliminate food sources and clean everything thoroughly. (And we mean thoroughly!) Then, use natural moth repellents.

Why are there moths around my car?

If moths are flying around your car, you might be attracting them with your headlights or interior lights. This is common in the summertime. Especially if you live in the mountains or woods. Although there is a lot of debate about why moths are attracted to lights, one thing is for sure: they love bright headlights!

Are Clothes Moth Larvae, eggs, or adult moths the biggest problem?

The answer is that they all are. The Moth Life Cycle can be a bit confusing. Adult flying moths aren't the ones who do damage to your vehicle’s interior fabrics and materials. Instead, it's their larvae that are the problem. Moth larvae chew their way through a range of natural fibers including upholstery, roof linings, floor coverings, carpets, glues, door cards, and more. So, if you ever notice moth eggs on car surfaces or insect eggs on car upholstery anywhere, you should treat the problem immediately.

However, if you see adult moths in or around your car, you might still have a problem. Adult moths mate and lay their eggs in secluded, dark places. So, if your vehicle has been sitting untouched in a garage for a few months, it could become a prime target. Usually, adult moths will select a quiet, out-of-the-way location with plenty of natural fabrics and tasty textiles for their larvae to eat when they hatch.

a common Clothes Moth (Tineola bisselliella)

The moth larvae emerge from eggs and start chewing through any natural fibers or contaminated synthetic fabrics nearby. The larvae then grow, go through metamorphosis, and become adults. From there, the life cycle continues. Since adult moths can lay hundreds of eggs at a time, exponential growth is likely. This can lead to expensive vehicle interior damage. That’s why it is so important to clean and then treat an infestation with natural moth killers right away if you notice the signs.

About MothPrevention®

MothPrevention® speak to customers every day about their clothes moth issues - clothes moths are a species that are ever increasing and that can cause significant damage to clothes, carpets and other home textiles.

To date, we’ve helped over 150,000 customers deal with their moth problems. We have developed professional grade solutions including proprietary pheromones, not available from anybody else in the USA, and engineered in Germany to the highest production standards.

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