It is impossible to turn on the television, radio or see a newspaper without hearing about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). What is it and what is the most effective way of making sure that your vehicle isn’t transporting the virus?
Below is information that will help you make informed decisions on what the best practices are to keep your vehicle as clean as possible while reducing the spread of the virus.
The most effective weapon against COVID-19 is soap (for seats and dashboards, of course). It doesn’t need to be antibacterial. Pretty much any household soap will do. Even that frou-frou decorative bar with the ribbon around it probably has the right stuff in it. Soap interacts with viruses in much the same way it does oils: it breaks them down.
So a simple soap scrub will annihilate any viruses in your car, and soap is unlikely to degrade your interior surfaces the way many cleaners can. But that business about scrubbing your hands for 20 seconds applies here, too. You can’t just move some soap around and then rinse it off. Soap needs time to surround and break down the virus.
We suggest spending extra time on the steering wheel. According to carrentals.com, a steering wheel can have four times the amount of germs found on an average toilet seat. For this reason, we would suggest using disinfecting wipes to clean all the surfaces on the steering wheel. These include the buttons and controls for the radio, voice control, cruise control, navigation, and paddle shifters. Also don’t forget about the gear selector lever or the turn indicator stalks.
Also clean the door and center console armrests, display screens, cupholders, cubbyholes, air conditioner vents. Don’t forget the door “grab handles.” You touch them more than you realize and are hot spots for germs including the coronavirus. You will very likely be surprised by the amount of dirt your wipes will pick up.
One more bit of advice: We don’t recommend storing a large pump bottle of hand sanitizer in your car. The heat buildup may cause the alcohol in the sanitizer to “boil,” resulting in an expansion of the sanitizer bottle. This, in turn, might result in leakage and a mess that will require an extensive cleaning effort. It is a better idea to carry a more manageable-sized bottle, that can be on or near your personal effects, whether in the home, office or on the road.
What not to use
Ideally, use isopropyl alcohol as this is safe for virtually every material from plastics to painted chrome, fabric upholstery and leather. If you don’t have any of that then soap and water is also effective (but, don’t scrub too hard as this could remove colour).
Do not use bleach or hydrogen peroxide; they can kill coronaviruses on surfaces but they will damage most surfaces they’re used on.
Under no circumstances should you use any ammonia-based cleaning products. These can be found in “Blue Glass Cleaners.” (You know which we are talking about.) The ammonia breaks down the vinyl on the dashboard, making it sticky when subjected to heat and light. Additionally, to avoid damage to anti-glare coatings, the glass cleaner should not be used on touch display screens.
Finally, if you find yourself without any disinfectant wipes or other cleaners, a good scrubbing with soap and water can actually rid surfaces of coronavirus and other germs. It just may take a little bit longer to effectively clean it properly. Don’t scrub too hard, though, as you might find you are removing some of the surface coatings or dyes.
Wash your hands, often
Washing your hands frequently is one of the best steps you can take, but the virus can still cling to surfaces you carry with you into your sanctuary, like your clothes, shoes, car and even your phone (here’s how to disinfect your phone).
These tips and bits of car cleaning advice will help keep your vehicle more germ-free than if you left it to fend for itself. No amount of cleaning can guarantee you’ll avoid catching a bug, but these suggestions help to minimize the risk. The added bonus is that your car will enjoy its new status as a clean machine.