Does That Used Car Bargain Come With Bed Bugs? Here’s How to Check!

It seems like the cost of everything is on the rise. From bacon to baby buggies everything seems to cost more. If you’re in the market for a new car you might well get knocked back by sticker shock as you make the rounds of your local dealerships.

So maybe a second-hand car would fit the bill. Save some money and get that new ride you’ve been after. Used cars can be a good way to save money. Bu second-hand cars come with a history, and sometimes that history includes bed bugs.

Traveling Pests

We tend to think of bed bugs as exclusively household pests. In most respects this is true. Bed bugs prefer to find a safe haven where they can breed and feed. But in order to find that safe haven they have to follow their human prey. Which is where their talent for hitchhiking comes into play.

Bed bugs go where there are human hosts. So it’s not unusual to find them on planes, trains and buses. The family car may not be public transport, but it does see its fair share of human traffic. And when it comes to purchasing a second-hand car you can never be sure how much human traffic it’s seen.

Car Lot vs Private Seller

When it comes to buying second-hand there are two basic options – the used car lot or the private seller. You might think the used car lot would be the safer option. After all, with a professional seller the cars should all be inspected and cleaned before they hit the lot. But that’s not always the case.

For many used car lots the primary goal is to give their stock a quick once over. Just enough to make it presentable for the public. And chances of it getting more than one basic cleaning are pretty low.

If you plan to buy from an individual seller chances are even slimmer that the car will have had a proper deep cleaning. Some independent sellers may go the extra mile but don’t count on it.

Whatever option you take you should plan to thoroughly inspect the car before making a purchase.

Where do Bed Bugs Hide in Cars?

Whether you’re buying a car from a dealership or an individual it’s worth taking some time to inspect the interior for any signs of bed bugs. You’ll want to look for fecal stains or blood spots along the interior upholstery. These will look like black or rust colored spots or smears. You’ll also want to watch out for any live bed bugs, bed bug eggs, or bed bug exoskeletons.

Dark upholstery can make inspection more difficult, so use the flashlight feature on your smartphone to help in your search, Here are a few basic tips to help you successfully inspect a potential used car:

  • Check the upholstery for any signs of bed bug activity paying close attention to the seams and folds.

  • Check under the seats and along the edges of the carpeting.

  • Look under the floor mats.

  • Inspect the trunk and spare tire recess.

  • Check the door bins, cup holders, and any other recesses in the console.

  • Use double-sided tape to pick up material from hard to access areas. Check to see if it picks up any eggs or exoskeletons

What Can You do if You Find Bed Bugs in Your Used Car?

If you do see signs of bed bug activity you have a couple of options. Obviously, you can pass on the car and keep looking for something clean that meets your needs. However, sometimes the price is too good to pass up. In which case you’ll need to attack the bed bug problem head on.

First you need to give the car a proper deep cleaning. Start by removing any trash or clutter from the car. That includes the trunk and spare tire well. Then vacuum the car thoroughly, giving special attention to any cracks and crevices that may be hiding bed bugs. When you’re finished vacuuming safely dispose of the contents. Do this outside to prevent bringing any stray surviving bed bugs into your home.

Steam cleaning the car’s carpeting and upholstery is highly recommended. The heat from the steam cleaning will help to kill any bed bugs you may have missed as well as any eggs that may have survived the vacuuming.

Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned the car remain diligent. Keep an eye out for any signs of bed bugs just in case some escaped the cleaning process. If you begin to think you may have transferred some bed bugs into your home contact a professional bed bug inspection and removal service immediately. Bed bugs in your home is something you do not want to ignore. The sooner you act the better.

Published by Scott Palatnik

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