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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 can it make your vehicle sick?
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.
Of course, vehicle cleanliness is only one concern during the outbreak, which is why we’re maintaining a daily update of staying safe.
Can my vehicle get sick from the coronavirus?
Nothing will happen to your car, truck or SUV should the coronavirus get onboard. But if not properly cleaned, your vehicle can become a harbor of all manner of unpleasantness. So we suggest taking bottles of hand sanitizer and packets of disinfecting wipes to wipe down the interior of your car and any other area that could be considered a high-touch area.
This applies doubly in the case of rental vehicles, ride-sharing vehicles like Uber and Lyft, share cars, share bikes, and taxis. Be sure to wipe any areas that human hands typically touch. These include door handles, door latches, lock buttons, seat belts and buckles, window buttons, mirrors, radio and climate control buttons and more.
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’s 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’s the best way to clean your vehicle to reduce the presence of coronavirus?
Disinfectant wipes work best in your car or SUV’s cabin. It is the cleaner most used by manufacturers of most automotive interiors today. Soap and water will work, too.
We suggest spending extra time on the steering wheel.
According to experts, 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 redundant controls for radio, voice control, cruise control, navigation, and paddle shift levers. And 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.
What not to use
We would advise against using any type of bleach or hydrogen peroxide on the vehicle’s interior. Both chemicals can put a welcome end to the coronavirus, but they will also cause damage to the vinyl and plastics used in most modern vehicles today. 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, a good scrubbing with soap and water can help 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
Finally, we cannot say this enough: Clean your hands regularly. Even after cleaning your vehicle properly, if your hands are dirty, you are putting germs right back onto an already clean surface.
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.