Bed Bugs in a Car? Here’s the Best Advice You Can Give During Your Auto Detailing Career

A bed bug infestation can happen anywhere, from airports to movie theaters, and even—much to the chagrin of drivers—in cars. While it’s relatively rare for these blood-sucking insects to be found inside of a car, it does happen from time to time. In fact, over recent years, Toronto has seen a growing number of bed bug infestations, earning itself the less-than-glamorous title of bed bug capital of Canada.

What does this mean for detailers? Here’s a quick look at some of the ways to navigate this pesky problem.

Signs That Point to a Bed Bug Infestation

Before deciding on next steps, it’s important to first establish whether bed bugs are indeed present. When detailing a car, there are several easy-to-spot signs to watch out for that could point to a bed bug infestation. Blood stains on upholstery are a typical early warning sign that bed bugs may be present. In addition, dark brown fecal stains, shed skins, and clear eggs can all point to a bed bug infestation.


Their small size and flat shape helps bed bugs crawl into tiny spaces

Due to their flattened bodies, bed bugs tend to hide well in the folds and seams of car seats, as well in glove compartments and under mats. An expert in professional automotive detailing can use an LED flashlight to get a good look in these spots. If you see signs of bed bugs while detailing a car, it’ll be important to advise your client that they may have an infestation on their hands.

Professional Automotive Detailing and Steaming of Infested Cars

When tackling a bed bug infestation during your auto detailing career, it’s important to first clear the car of any garbage or other debris. A thorough cleaning and vacuuming can help clear the car or any clutter, thus removing some of the spaces where bed bugs can hide. Then, once this is completed, it’s important to thoroughly steam upholstery in order to kill any remaining eggs or bugs.

Bed bug have been growing increasingly immune to pesticides. Fortunately, bed bugs are still relatively sensitive to temperature changes. Temperatures higher than 50°C are enough to kill adult beg bugs, while 52°C is enough to eliminate their eggs. For steam cleaners that can reach temperatures upwards of 192°C, reaching these upper limits isn’t too much of a challenge.

Ensuring That Infestations Are Fully Addressed and Preventing Reoccurring Problems

While a thorough detailing and steam treatment can be helpful first steps in addressing an infestation, they may not always be enough to eliminate the problem completely. Part of what makes a bed bug infestation so problematic is that bugs can easily slip into small crevasses to avoid treatments. To ensure that bugs have been completely eliminated, car owners may also want to consult with exterminators for additional treatments that include pesticides.

Even when an infestation has been properly addressed, many car owners might understandably feel nervous about the problem happening again. To this end, it can be helpful to offer them a few useful tips for preventing future problems. You can encourage your clients to vacuum their cars regularly and to also avoid using their car to transport clothes or other items they suspect may be infected by bed bugs. By being vigilant, they can do their best to avoid another infestation down the road.

Are you ready to start a career as an auto detailer?

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