A step-by-step guide to disinfecting your car amid the pandemic

A step-by-step guide to disinfecting your car amid the pandemic

Hand washing with soap and water and using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer have been proven to be effective in avoiding the spread of coronavirus. Since it was discovered that the virus can live on surfaces for hours to days, the media have put a lot of emphasis on sanitizing your home and workplace.


  • What cleaning solutions should be used to keep a vehicle safe from the coronavirus?

    Soap and water, as well as alcohol solutions, containing at least 70% isopropyl alcohol, are the most effective agents for the killing the coronavirus. These products are safe to use in vehicle interiors.
  • Which products are not recommended for disinfecting vehicles?

    It is not recommended to use bleach, hydrogen peroxide, and ammonia-based products when disinfecting cars because they can ruin upholstery and leather, and may discolor fabrics.
  • However, many people who go in and out of cars throughout the day do not sanitize commonly touched areas where bacteria can hide. If you work for a ridesharing or taxi company, keeping your vehicle clean is even more important to prevent the spread of the virus.

    Due to the various types of surfaces and the numerous nooks and gaps, disinfecting a car can be more challenging than cleaning a home. Vehicle surfaces are also not designed to resist a constant barrage of harsh cleaning agents, and can deteriorate if cleaned too frequently.

    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) previously said that soap and water, as well as alcohol solutions containing at least 70% isopropyl alcohol, are the most effective agents for killing the coronavirus. These items are also safe to use in vehicle interiors.

    Bleach, hydrogen peroxide, and ammonia-based products can fight coronaviruses, but they can ruin upholstery and leather, and discolor fabrics. They can also cause irritation to the skin and eyes. New studies also revealed that cleaning with bleach could produce indoor air pollutants.

    Prestone Disinfecting Car Wipes

    Meanwhile, natural products such as vinegar, tea tree oil, and vodka have not been proven to be effective against coronavirus.

    It is also not recommended to use harsh cleansers on infotainment screens and other touch screens. Screen wipes or a soft cloth moistened with soap and water should be used to clean the screen. A wipeable cover can be applied on electronics to make sanitizing easier.

    In addition to the cleaning solution, you will need a few other items to disinfect a vehicle interior. Make sure to wear gloves, mask, and disposable gown or work clothes and have a vacuum, screen wipes microfiber cloths, bucket for mixing soap and water, brush for scrubbing stains, window or glass cleaner, and leather conditioner if your car has leather seats.

    Keep the doors and windows open while cleaning because some cleaning agents can cause irritations to the eyes or throat. Follow these steps to properly disinfect your car:

    1. Wash your hands first, then wear disposable gloves. Also use a face mask to protect yourself from dust, chemical inhalation, and any virus exposure while cleaning.
    2. Take out and dust out all floor mats.
    3. Vacuum crevices to remove dirt and dust completely.
    4. In a bucket, mix warm water and soap.
    5. Wipe down the seat surfaces with a microfiber towel soaked in the soapy solution. Scrub well, but do not over-saturate the upholstery or leather with the solution. If there is too much water in the cushions, mold can grow.
    6. Using the soapy solution, scrub the previously removed floor mats. After wiping clean with a second damp cloth, dry completely with a towel.
    7. Wipe down all other surfaces of the vehicle using a damp soft cloth to remove dirt, dust, and anything sticky.
    8. Wipe off high-touch surfaces such as steering wheel, knobs, handles, and levers with a microfiber cloth or soft cloth soaked in 70% isopropyl alcohol or alcohol-based wipes.
    9. Allow five to 10 minutes for the surface to dry. It needs to stay wet with cleaner for several minutes to efficiently eliminate viruses and bacteria.
    10. Use soap and water or alcohol to sanitize windows and mirrors. Coronavirus is not killed by standard window cleaners. After disinfecting the windows, spray them with a window cleaner solution and wipe them clean with a microfiber towel.
    11. Throw away the disposable gloves and personal protective equipment (PPE) used.
    12. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water immediately after removing the gloves.
    13. Launder any clothing worn during the disinfecting process in warm or hot water.

    If your vehicle has leather seats, use a microfiber cloth and don’t wipe too aggressively to avoid damaging the leather. The best way to clean and disinfect them is with soap and water, as alcohol can strip the leather’s moisture that can cause damage over time. Excess foam and water should also be avoided.

    It is recommended to use a leather conditioner to ensure that the leather retains its moisture, durability, and appearance.

    If someone in your family has COVID-19 or other infection, disinfecting high-contact surfaces in your home and vehicle is a must.

    In this situation, having the car professionally cleaned may be a preferable option.

    Many professional detailing centers have upgraded their procedures for disinfecting the inside of a vehicle so that the coronavirus and other viruses and germs are killed without causing damage to your car.

    Photos from Land Rover, Prestone


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