WITH the report looming that the ECQ will be extended, it could be a good idea to go beyond simply cleaning the car and constantly sanitize it against coronavirus.
The idea comes from a family friend who operates his own TNVS and is married to a pharmacist who works at the Philippine General Hospital. The constant exposure COVID-19 positive patients is a huge concern. Tito Mackie’s said that it was time to disinfect and sanitize the family car beyond the car wash.
There are two areas of concern. The first one is the daily exposure of his wife—from hospital to car, and the other was that he regularly transported nurses from PGH to their dorms or houses. Though they obviously wore PPEs at work, that was not a complete assurance that they left all traces of coronavirus behind. They could still be potential transmitters of the virus. And Tito Mackie refuses to be a carrier too.
Guided by common sense and limited resources (no car wash is open at this time) here is a quick guide to sanitizing your car.
Start with yourself. Wear gloves, a facemask. A long-sleeved shirt isn’t a bad idea as would be jogging pants instead of jeans which may restrict movement.
The right tools and cleaners. Guess what? There is no need for harsh chemical cleaners and complicated brushes and cloth. All you need is some soap (we used a bar of Perla, soaked in water); a can of car wax and a spray bottle pre-filled with a mix of 70 percent alcohol and distilled water. (Add a sliver of lemon skin for aroma.) Have a vacuum cleaner if possible. Two sets of microfiber towels, to dry and to dry again (especially the interiors). Also have old toothbrushes and earbuds to clean around the console and inside the vents. Don’t forget disinfectant wipes for fabric seats.
Begin outside. Cleaning your car by washing the outside has a two benefits. A nice looking ride and no surface for coronavirus to attach. It was believed that coronavirus will not last long on a hot surface. Wash the whole car and pay attention to the door handle, gas pump door and other outside touchpoints.
When inside. Inside your car there are many surfaces and many different materials. But all it needs its one good cleaner—soap or alcohol. Whether it be chrome, metal, rubber, leather and plastic, just soapy water, followed by a wet (with water) cleaning rag and a drying rag. If you choose to use deodorizing or sanitary wipes, soak up all the moisture with a dry rag.
Pay particular attention to the high-contact areas such as the door handle, power window controls, ignition key and start push button, steering wheel, dashboard, radio or infotainment touch screen, buttons, shifter knob, locking buttons and seatbelts.
Watch your head(liner). No one pays attention to the headliner, it is a few of the low or no-contact areas—of the car, including the back of the seat, the headrests, the rear panel (where the speakers are). Clean all these places with sanitizing wipes.
Prevent reinfection. This simply means taking steps to deliberately keep your car sanitized. This idea meant a large plastic zipper-lock bag for clothes taken from the hospital for laundry, as hand sanitizers by the door sills as well as paper lining for the floor mats—except for the driver’s side with could actually be dangerous.
Now that is constant disinfection, washing your (and your passenger’s) hands before getting in will be the new normal from now on. This one single action will help keep your car a clean place and reduce the chance of a virus making it into your vehicle.
One last concern, if someone who is COVID-19 positive rides in your vehicle, stop using it and do a full disinfection. You might want to get a recommendation from the DOH or the RITM. Ask your doctor for next steps. It is better to err on the side of caution. For a detailed guide on how to clean and sanitize your vehicle, the U.S. Center for Disease Control has a webpage dedicated to just that.
Finally, “always wash your hands,” I remind Tito Mackie.