Men Washing His Car

How to Clean Your Car for Coronavirus

At Cascade Auto Center, we fully understand the concerns our customers have about exposure to COVID-19, or the coronavirus. Many people in Washington are using hand sanitizer, wearing gloves and cleaning items they purchase after running errands to reduce the risk of exposure to germs outside their homes. However, you might not realize that these items are touching the interior of your car before they’re wiped down.

According to the World Health Organization, studies suggest that the coronavirus may live on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. That means that you should be sanitizing the interior of your car to kill any germs it may have collected on your last visit to the grocery store or pharmacy.

Car cleaner wiping car door with rag

How Long Does Coronavirus Survive on Surfaces?

You may find that you need several different tools when disinfecting your car interior, as it contains a variety of different surfaces. From leather seats and cloth floor mats to metal door handles and plastic on the dashboard, there are many materials to consider.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the virus that causes COVID-19 is stable for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic or stainless steel. Another study suggests that similar viruses can live on "inanimate surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for up to nine days."

Cleaning the interior of the car with a microfiber cloth

What's the Best Way to Sanitize My Car's Interior?

Start by washing your hands and putting on disposable gloves if you have them. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work well for sanitizing your vehicle. Just be sure to read the product's label to make sure it's safe for the surface you're planning to use it on. It’s a good idea to keep extra disinfectant wipes and a bottle of hand sanitizer in your vehicle, if you have enough available, to wipe high-touch surfaces regularly.

How to Disinfect Surfaces in My Car

The most important areas of your car to keep clean are the dashboard and the steering wheel. Bacteria tends to collect in these spots, as air is cycled throughout the vehicle. To clean your dash, simply use soap and water. Dampen the surface with dish soap and warm water, then scrub for 20-30 seconds. Make sure you disinfect your steering wheel and dashboard frequently, as you’re sure to touch them often while driving. There are several other high-touch places to consider, though.

These surfaces can include:

  • Door Handles
  • Door Buttons
  • Key Fob
  • Steering Wheel
  • Inside Door Buttons
  • Seat Belts
  • Gear Shifters
  • Touchscreens
  • Buttons on the Dash
  • Buttons for Lights
  • Buttons for Windshield Wipers
  • Glove Compartment

Do I Need to Disinfect My Car's Exterior?

While the sun and other weather elements keep germs from thriving on your car’s exterior, you should still disinfect areas you touch frequently, including handle buttons, the gas cap and door handles.

Are There Disinfectants I Should Avoid Using in My Car?

If you want to avoid damaging the interior surfaces, don't use bleach or hydrogen peroxide to disinfect. These can damage the vinyl and plastics in your cabin. You should also avoid any ammonia-based cleaning products used to clean glass, as they can break down the vinyl on the dashboard. Heat and light may then cause your dashboard to become sticky.

How to Clean Leather Seats in My Car

Make sure you spot test your leather cleaner of choice on a hidden area to ensure it won’t damage the interior. If you don’t have leather cleaner, mix one part water with two parts vinegar for a DIY disinfectant. It’s best to use a microfiber cloth when you’re cleaning so you don’t scratch the leather seats. Consider applying a leather conditioner once the disinfection process is complete.

Here at Cascade Auto Center, we want to do our part to help educate our customers and keep them safe and healthy during this difficult time. If you have any questions about car care or need assistance, please don't hesitate to reach out to our car dealership in Wenatchee, WA.

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