During the COVID-19 crisis, we are advised to stay home, but there are still many of us who need to use our vehicles for various reasons. This may cause you some worry about being out and about in the world, and then getting inside your car. Or, perhaps you have been sick or have been around someone who is sick, and want to make sure you disinfect your vehicle thoroughly.
Whatever the reason, it is never a bad idea to keep your car germ-free during these trying times. Luckily, there is one basic household cleaner that will kill germs and viruses without damaging the interior of your car.
Protecting your vehicle from the coronavirus
It’s just as important to protect your vehicle’s interior from the coronavirus as it is any other surface you come into daily contact with. Pay special attention to disinfecting “high touch” areas, such as door handles, the steering wheel, gear shift, and knobs and buttons. Don’t forget surfaces like the key fob and the gas cap. Basically, anywhere you touch with your hands or fingers.
Upholstery is less of a priority because your skin isn’t exposed to the surface. To clean the small areas your fingers touch like the infotainment system, use a cotton swab. The CDC recommends cleaning your vehicle daily, though your individual needs will vary.
A basic cleaner to disinfect your vehicle’s cabin
The first step is to obey all the guidelines about washing your hands, and you should do so both before and after entering your vehicle. Soap is also one the best basic ingredients to use to kill viruses; however, it is tough to clean the interior of a car with soap and water without getting it too wet.
According to the CDC, an alcohol solution with 70 percent alcohol kills the novel coronavirus, so you can use regular household rubbing alcohol to do the job. To use it on the interior of your vehicle, you must dilute it. Do not use rubbing alcohol directly out of the bottle on your car’s interior. Make a solution of half 70 percent rubbing alcohol and half water.
Spray or dab the solution onto a cloth and clean your vehicles surfaces with a rubbing motion. The physical act of rubbing and scrubbing kills a significant amount of microorganisms. Because the diluted rubbing alcohol solution is a safer cleaner than harsh household cleaners, it is best to leave it on the surface for 3 minutes to make sure the virus is killed.
Then, wipe all moisture off with a separate cloth. Plan to use disposable paper towels. If you use fabric cloths, wash them afterward in a bleach solution.
Don’t disinfect your vehicles with these cleaners
Since we’re all currently obsessed with hand sanitizer, you might be tempted to rub down your car’s interior with it. Resist this urge. Any alcohol-based cleaner or sanitizer can damage your car’s interior surfaces. You should also stay away from bleach, which will damage vehicle chrome and finishes. Solvents such as kerosene or acetone don’t go well with interiors.
Spray disinfectants are not a good choice for the inside of a car because they only kill germs where they settle. They won’t cover all the surfaces in the car like the back of the steering wheel. Never spray cleaner or disinfectant directly into your car’s components.
If you’re able to get a hold of some, it’s OK to quickly wipe down your high-touch areas with household cleaning wipes, but be sure to avoid those containing bleach. In the days ahead, keep your spray bottle of half water/half rubbing alcohol in your vehicle to disinfect whenever you think it’s appropriate.
Remember to have paper towels or cloths and to use separate ones for applying and wiping off. Keeping your vehicle clean will go a long way to help peace of mind as you go about your necessary business.