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How to Clean Your Car to Reduce the Spread of Coronavirus

March 18, 2020

By now, everyone should be well-versed in the technique of proper hand washing. Some have even come up with clever ways to educate people, like this website that lets you turn any song into a 20-second hand washing song. That’s right. A hand washing song. Because that’s totally a thing now.

According to the CDC, washing your hands and disinfecting high-touch surfaces are some of the best ways to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

So, how about disinfecting the interior of your car? There are countless high-touch surfaces inside your car such as the steering wheel, door handle, hand brake, armrests, radio, touch screens, turn signals, seatbelts, and more.

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can can disinfect the interior of your car without damaging any surfaces.


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What products should you use?

Soap and water

The best way to clean your car is with good ol’ soap and water. Soap dissolves the fat membrane that surrounds the virus and causes the virus to become inactive. This is why washing your hands is all the rage right now. While this method does take a bit of elbow grease in that you need to give the areas a good scrub and wipe down, it’s a highly effective way of destroying the virus.

Soap and water can also be used to clean fabrics and even leather, if you’re gentle. However, use caution when washing your seats with soap and water as you want to avoid soaking them to prevent possible molding.

Alcohol

According to Consumer Reports, alcohol is commonly used by manufacturers of automotive interiors to clean parts before they leave the factories. In particular, they use isopropyl alcohol. Isopropyl alcohol can clean surfaces from plastic to painted chrome to imitation leather without causing damage.

When using alcohol to clean surfaces, pour or spray a small amount onto a soft cloth and wipe down the surface. Avoid spraying or pouring the alcohol directly on the surface. While alcohol is commonly used as a cleaner for interior surfaces, it’s still recommended to test it on small areas before applying it to an entire area to ensure that it won’t cause any damage.

Household wipes

Before reaching for your household disinfectant wipes, make sure they are bleach-free before using them on any surfaces in your car. Bleach can lead to discoloration of parts and removal of paint and special coatings. Many brands of disinfectant wipes such as Chlorox and Seventh Generation are bleach-free and boast killing up to 99.99% of bacteria and viruses.

What products should you avoid?

Hydrogen peroxide, bleach, or ammonia-based products

While these are typical go-to household items to kill bacteria, you should avoid these items, if possible, when cleaning your car. These products are quite harsh to surfaces that have a glossy finish (aka most parts in your car!) In particular, you absolutely do not want to use them on any radios or touch screens as they can damage the anti-glare and anti-fingerprint coating.

When all is said and done, washing your hands is still the best way to avoid the spread of coronavirus. If you put in the work of disinfecting the surfaces in your car, but your hands are covered in germs, you can easily spread them back to your car. So, keep washing your hands with soap and water and humming along to your favorite hand washing jingle.

For more tips on cleaning and disinfection, visit CDC’s website.