Carpet Beetles in Car: What to Do and Effective Solutions

Dealing with carpet beetles in your car can be a nuisance, as these small pests can damage fabrics and other materials.

It’s important to identify and address the issue swiftly to prevent further infestation.

Adult carpet beetles typically don’t cause damage, but their larvae can feed on various fabrics, causing harm to your car’s interior.

Carpet Beetles in Car

Carpet Beetle Larva

To tackle carpet beetles in your car, start by thoroughly cleaning the interior.

Vacuum all surfaces, particularly upholstery and carpets, to remove any existing beetles or larvae.

Be sure to dispose of the vacuum contents outside to prevent re-infestation.

Additionally, inspect your car for possible beetle entry points, like vents and window screens, and seal them securely.

Carpet beetles can be persistent, so monitoring your car for any signs of re-infestation is essential.

Check for shed exoskeletons, which may indicate the presence of larvae.

By keeping your car clean and addressing any infestations promptly, you can effectively manage and prevent carpet beetle problems.

Identifying Carpet Beetles in Your Car

Carpet beetles are a common nuisance and can infest not only homes but also cars.

It’s essential to identify and promptly address these pests to protect the natural and synthetic fibers found in your car’s upholstery.

Common Types of Carpet Beetles

There are several types of carpet beetles, which differ slightly in appearance and feeding habits. The most common species include:

  • Varied carpet beetle: These are small, oval-shaped beetles, usually black with varying patterns of white, yellow, and orange scales.
  • Furniture carpet beetle: Slightly larger than the varied carpet beetle, they have a round shape and a mix of white, yellow, and black scales.
  • Common carpet beetle: Recognizable by their black and white scales and a solid band of orange or red scales down the midline of their body.
  • Black carpet beetle: The largest species, these are solid black or dark brown and have an elongated oval shape.

Adult carpet beetles mainly feed on flower pollen and nectar outdoors, whereas their larvae cause damage by feeding on natural fibers like wool, silk, and fur.

Synthetic fibers found in some carpets can also be vulnerable if they are stained with food or other organic matter.

Carpet Beetle Larva

Varied carpet beetles can be found on car seats or on the edges of carpets near the doors.

Furniture carpet beetles might be attracted to a woolen blanket or any silk accessories in the car.

To help identify the type of carpet beetle infesting your car, you can refer to this simple comparison table:

Species Shape Size Color Pattern
Varied carpet beetle Oval Small Black with white, yellow, and orange scales
Furniture carpet beetle Round Medium Mix of white, yellow, and black scales
Common carpet beetle Oval Medium Black and white with an orange or red midline
Black carpet beetle Elongated Large Solid black or dark brown

Taking prompt action to remove carpet beetles from your car helps to protect your vehicle’s upholstery from damage.

It’s important to clean regularly and ensure there are no hidden food sources that may attract them.

Damage Caused by Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetle larvae feed on animal fibers, which can be found in car upholstery, carpets, and other items made of natural materials. They rarely target synthetic fibers.

Damage to Car Interiors

The larvae can eat away at your car interiors, causing unsightly holes in the upholstery and carpets.

Examples of their damage include:

  • Holes in car seats made of wool or leather
  • Damaged fur-covered steering wheel covers
  • Worn areas in natural fiber floor mats

Damage to Other Items

In addition to car interiors, carpet beetles can also damage items commonly stored in cars or clothing and animal products found in closets at home:

  • Clothing made of wool, silk, or other animal fibers
  • Leather bags or jackets stored in the car
  • Furs, taxidermy, or other animal products

To prevent carpet beetle damage, consider the following preventative measures:

  • Regular cleaning and vacuuming of your car’s interior
  • Storing animal fiber clothing and items in sealable bags or containers
  • Inspect items brought into the car for signs of carpet beetle infestation

Remember, staying vigilant against carpet beetle infestation and damage is crucial in protecting your car and personal belongings from these destructive pests.

Carpet Beetle Larva

How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles in Car

Cleaning Your Car

To remove carpet beetle infestations from your car, begin by thorough cleaning. Remove any trash to eliminate potentially attractive food sources.

Use a vacuum cleaner to extract eggs, larvae, and adult carpet beetles.

Focus on areas where lint, hair, and debris may accumulate. After vacuuming, consider a steam cleaner treatment to address any resilient larvae or eggs.

Using Insecticides

Sprays and powders containing insecticides can be effective in combating a carpet beetle infestation.

Apply products specifically designed for carpet beetles, and always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Keep in mind that certain chemicals may negatively affect non-synthetic carpets.

Consult a professional exterminator if the infestation persists or if you’re unsure about using chemicals in your car.

Natural Remedies

For a more eco-friendly approach, try using essential oils. Cedar oil is a popular choice, as it has been proven effective against carpet beetles.

Carpet Beetle Larva

Other options include vinegar or homemade essential oil beetle sprays. These methods are gentler and safer for the environment, but might require repeated applications.

To summarize:

  • Vacuum and steam clean your car for effective cleaning.
  • Use insecticides or natural remedies like essential oils, considering their pros and cons.
  • Always follow guidelines and consult professionals when necessary.

Preventing Carpet Beetle Infestation

Keep Your Car Clean and Well-Maintained

One of the main methods of preventing carpet beetle infestations in your car is to ensure cleanliness. Short, regular cleaning sessions will help:

  • Remove lint, hair, and food debris
  • Eliminate dead insects or other pests
  • Discourage the growth of bugs

Your car’s carpets, seats, and upholstery should be vacuumed frequently, especially if you have wool or fur components.

Any food stains should be cleaned promptly as they can attract insects.

Wipe down surfaces, including baseboards and door panels, to prevent bugs such as ants and beetles.

Protecting Vulnerable Areas

Here are some ways to safeguard vulnerable areas in your car:

  • Regularly inspect and clean small spaces (e.g. under seats, trunk)
  • Use insect repellents or sprays on fabrics, especially curtains
  • Avoid leaving items (e.g. clothes) inside the vehicle for long periods
  • Keep windows and doors closed when not in use
  • Ensure proper ventilation to prevent humidity and dampness

By taking these proactive measures, you can prevent carpet beetles from infesting your car.

Managing Carpet Beetle Allergies and Sensitivities

Carpet beetle allergies can cause issues like skin irritation and respiratory problems. To manage these allergies, follow these simple steps:

  • Cleanliness: Maintain a clean and dust-free environment by vacuuming regularly, especially in affected areas.
  • Washing fabrics: Wash your clothes, bedding, and other fabric items in hot water to kill any existing carpet beetles and their larvae.
  • Boric acid: Apply boric acid powder to affected areas. This natural substance is toxic to carpet beetles but relatively safe for humans and pets.
  • Natural repellents: Utilize natural repellents like peppermint and clove oil to deter carpet beetles from infesting your car.
Method Pros Cons
Hot water Effective in killing beetles Requires frequent washing
Boric acid Eco-friendly, non-toxic option Can be harmful if ingested
Peppermint Natural and pleasant scent Requires regular reapplication
Clove oil Repels beetles Strong scent, may not suit everyone

These methods can help manage and prevent carpet beetle allergies and sensitivities:

  • Cleanliness helps avoid beetle infestations.
  • Washing with hot water eliminates larvae.
  • Boric acid is a safe and effective way to treat carpet beetles.
  • Using natural repellents is eco-friendly and poses fewer health risks.

Other Pests to Watch Out for in Your Car

Besides carpet beetles, there are other pests you might encounter in your car.

Spiders are common and generally harmless, but some species, like the black widow, can be dangerous. Clearing out clutter in your car can help deter spiders.

Wasps can be aggressive when disturbed. They are attracted to food spills or trash. Keep your car clean and free from food debris to avoid wasps.

Giant Strong Nosed Stink Bug nymph eats Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Stink bugs often enter cars by mistake. They don’t pose any harm, but can release a strong odor if disturbed or crushed.

Fleas and bedbugs can hitchhike on people, pets, or belongings. Regularly cleaning and vacuuming your car can keep them at bay.


  • Keep your car clean and free from food debris.
  • Regularly vacuum your car, especially if you’ve transported pets or used belongings.
  • Seal gaps in your car to prevent pests from entering.

By being proactive and keeping your car clean, you can prevent most of these pests from making a home in your vehicle.


In summary, dealing with carpet beetles in your car involves:

  • Identifying the beetles
  • Thorough cleaning
  • Preventive measures

Carpet beetles are small, rounded insects, around 1/8 of an inch long, often found on windowsills or feeding on pollen outside. Their larvae cause damage to fabrics, fur, and feathers.

To tackle these pests, start with a thorough cleaning. Vacuum every part of your car and wipe down surfaces with a mild detergent.

Prevention is crucial. Regularly clean your car, remove any organic material, and store items made of animal fibers in sealed containers.

Comparing treatment options:

Method Pros Cons
Vacuuming Efficient; no chemicals May not reach all areas
Insecticides Effective May harm environment

Prevention tips:

  • Regular cleaning
  • Use airtight containers for storage
  • Address any damp conditions inside the car

Remember, addressing carpet beetle infestations requires a combination of thorough cleaning, preventive measures, and, if necessary, the use of insecticides. With consistent effort, you can keep your car free of these pesky critters.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about carpet beetles. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Carpet Beetle Larvae or Maggots????

Unknown bug.
Location: on the coast of Wollongong, New south Wales, Australia
January 2, 2011 5:32 am
Hello, Im Rebecca Mather,
I was doing the dishes tonight and noticed something odd on the dried out spounge. Just under 1 mm long, White several tiny black lines across its body seperating the bug, like a grub or something.

Just curious as to what it is. Our unit is very high up, has those invisible security screens and we have no pets. so im not sure how it got in and if its a potential problem.

If you could identify it, i would be really grateful.
Thank you.
Signature: Rebecca Mather

Carpet Beetle Larvae or Maggots, or something else????

Dear Rebecca,
It is impossible to make an identification based on your photo, but we are guessing that you have either Carpet Beetle Larvae or Fly Maggots.  Either might be feeding on organic material that has accumulated on the sponge.

Letter 2 – Carpet Beetle Larvae

Can someone help identify this bug?
Location: Oklahoma
November 28, 2010 5:18 pm
I have these bugs under my washing machine and a few have climbed from under there and on the floor a few inches away. I moved the machine and these are ”nests” of dust, webs, or that’s what it looks like to me. They do crawl but most of time just sit still.

There are ”skins” where they have shed them like a snake. The bugs are white or beige with darker on each end. There are many legs like centipedes and the back end looks like it has long antennae maybe 2.

I can’t stand bugs and I have never seen these before but now I am looking for them everywhere. Under the machine and on the round legs of the machine seem to be where they are. HELP!!!!
Signature: Barbara

Carpet Beetle Larvae

Dear Barbara,
You have Carpet Beetle Larvae, and now that you have that information, you should be able to find lots of information in our own archive and on the internet.  They feed on shed pet hair and other organic materials.

Letter 3 – Carpet Beetle

Subject: Can’t figure out what bug this is!
Location: Virginia
February 29, 2016 8:56 pm
I can’t figure out what kind of bug this is but I have come across a few of them in my apartment. Would you be able to tell me what it is?
Signature: Thanks!

Carpet Beetle
Carpet Beetle

You have Carpet Beetles, a common Household Pest.

Letter 4 – Buffalo Carpet Beetle

Subject: What’s this bug?
Location: Toronto, Canada
April 1, 2017 9:01 pm
Hi there,
I just found this visitor in my bed. He’s fast. Quite small maybe 1-2 mm long but I’m bad at guessing measurements. Please let me know what it is and if I should be concerned if he has friends or is dangerous.
Thanks in advance
Signature: Bugged out

Buffalo Carpet Beetle

Dear Bugged out,
This is a Buffalo Carpet Beetle,
Anthrenus scrophulariae, and according to BugGuide:  “Adults feed on nectar and pollen; larvae feed on various animal materials (incl. wool, feathers, hair/fur, and museum specimens) and dried plants.” 

We suspect this adult spent its time as a larva feeding inside your home, possibly on shed pet hair.  While Carpet Beetles are not dangerous, they can damage household goods.  We suspect this has no relevance in your case, but BugGuide also indicates this is a:  “household pest known to attack dried insect collections.”

2 thoughts on “Carpet Beetles in Car: What to Do and Effective Solutions”

  1. The picture isn’t clear enough to tell, but some of the critters look a bit like bedbugs (ICK! HATE HATE HATe!) Hope they;re not, for your sake.
    (I’ve actually replaced the vloth king mattress with two air beds, covered in two inches of memory foam. It’s AMAZINGLY comfortable! Ear person can adjust their bed as they like…. no more rolling down into the pit of the heavier person.

  2. My sister had carpet beetles in her bedroom some time back. She had bites all over her that made her start searching her mattress for bed bugs. Carpet beetles were easy to get rid of, but still left her bitten and itchy. (We are in Florida. Maybe our carpet beetles are hopped up on heat and humidity.)


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