Exterminating in one's car
August 23, 2012 9:52 PM   Subscribe

Quickest way to get rid of tiny black ants in your car?

How do I get the ants out of my car? I understand deep cleaning the upholstery and surfaces is a must. Anything else I can do to make sure they don't come back, besides throwing food wrappers away regularly? I have to keep my car outside. They invaded when I left it in the driveway for a week long vacation.

Oh, and any tips for keeping your car clean and organized would be helpful. It's always been a struggle to keep it not a disaster.
posted by sunnychef88 to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Making sure they don't come back just involves regular cleaning after the deep clean that needs to be done. My car is usually very clean even when I ate fast food for every meal, in my car. That said, I make it a point to take my garbage with me when I leave the car because I keep a couple of bags in the back of my seat at all times. Also, when I hit the gas station and am waiting for my gas to pump I do a thorough sweep for garbage. The wash and vacuum happens about once a month, I take it to a self serve place or a car wash depending on my time or funds. I also keep car wipes in the back of my seat and use those regularly (once a week when I have nothing to do and am parking my car for the day).

If I leave things in the car I make sure to gather everything and put it on my passenger seat when I see it and get in the car so that when I get out at my house (I need just grab what's next to me and bring it inside the house).

It's just about being proactive really. I suppose you could put an ant trap under your seats for good measure.
posted by MyMind at 10:16 PM on August 23, 2012

I try to keep all the garbage located to one area (normally behind the drivers seat) and then when I stop for gas, I try to empty it everytime.
Lemon sunlight. Kills ants well, diluted with water in a spray bottle. Smells clean and fresh and works well on car floors (and plants for that matter)
posted by Weeping Angel at 10:19 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Take any garbage out of the car every time you leave the car. I can't imagine you're routinely generating more garbage than you can carry out in a single trip, so this should be pretty easy. If you need to, keep some bags in the car to use as garbage bags, so you can just grab it on the way out (and start a new one next time). Ideally don't eat in the car (this also helps not generate much garbage). Obviously if you're a long haul trucker, this is difficult, but I think for most people it's not that hard. I at one time commuted 2.5-3 hours each way every day, and still didn't really accumulate garbage in the car (nor did I ever eat in the car).

I did get an ant infestation in one of my cars once while it was at the body shop. I bought some ant traps and it took care of the problem quickly and easily, and they never returned (but I also never took my car to that body shop again).
posted by primethyme at 10:38 PM on August 23, 2012

Take any garbage out of the car every time you leave the car.
Having to do this teaches you to be careful with where you throw stuff, as opposed to "someplace behind". Cleaning becomes really easy that way.
posted by Namlit at 11:58 PM on August 23, 2012

Just get some ant traps, and that'll kill off the hive that's set up shop there. Once that particular family is gone, your car is no more likely to get a new ant nest than it was to get the first one.

Keeping it clean is a good idea. Your best bet for that is to have a trash bag - I keep a plastic grocery bag looped over the gear shift, so it's mostly in the floor of the passenger seat - and never put trash anywhere other than in that bag. Every time you run errands yo'uve got the opportunity to throw out the old bag and replace it with a new one (combine two stores into one bag, or when have you ever bought groceries and not been able to consolidate just a bit to produce at least one empty bag?)
posted by aimedwander at 7:03 AM on August 24, 2012

Give the outside a good exterior washing? Ants leave messages on the ground (and on the surfaces of your car) signalling the way in to get more food. You might have eliminated the food, but you need to also take away the road signs.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:07 AM on August 24, 2012

When you get home, nothing stays in your car that doesn't belong there (which would be things like insurance tags, registration paperwork, tire pressure gauge, med kit, flares, jumper cables, etc.). The "everything in it's place" thing works perfectly. Not only is it tidier, it also means that would be smash-and-grabbers are less likely to target you if there isn't a thing in sight.

Also, never eat in your car. The only food that goes in your car is food you need to move from A to B.
posted by Brian Puccio at 10:19 AM on August 24, 2012

I was able to get ants out by having the car professionally washed (not detailed or anything like that, just your average $30 "touchless" wash). It turned out that the culprit was a tree I was parking under at work.

In terms of keeping your car clean, this has been something I have been really diligent about in my new car. It's not super fancy, but my old car got really gross because I was careless. A few things that help:
- I take all garbage out every time I leave the car.
- I have a lint roller and use it whenever I see dog hair or something sticking to the upholstery (or me!)
- Anything I need is tucked in it's own place in the door pockets or glove box, nothing is flying around.
- If you have kids and cary a lot of kid crap, you might want to look into an organizer or something. There are a lot of good ideas on Pinterest.
- I keep antibacterial wipes in case something spills.
- I hate washing my own car, so I splurge on getting it washed professionally once a quarter.
posted by radioamy at 12:25 PM on August 24, 2012

I live in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, where mice in cars is just a fact of life. Every time you leave the car, remove anything that has touched food. This includes not only food wrappers but also the napkins you used to wipe your hands, straw wrappers, etc.

Actually, every time I leave my car, I make a quick sweep and take all the trash with me. Whether I'm getting out at home or at the grocery store. You would be surprised how many businesses have an outdoor trash can within easy reach.
posted by ErikaB at 7:35 PM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had an ant infestation recently in my kitchen, those suckers were EVERYWHERE. I bought some of these at the store and put them out at night. By the next day, there were about half as many and within 24 hours, they were all gone. I highly suggest those specific traps. I bought mine at Target for about 5 dollars.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:54 PM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

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