CARS can become petri dishes for COVID-19.
The closed and “contained’ conditions in a vehicle is a perfect environment for fungal, bacterial and viral growth.
Keeping cars clean and COVID-19 free is essential in the midst of the global coronavirus outbreak. It won’t take expensive chemicals and equipment. Just a lot of common sense and materials already available in your kitchen cupboard or even in the fruit tray.
WASH YOUR DASH. Just like washing your hands, plain old hand or dishwashing soap is effective for cleaning your car’s interior surfaces. Now some will claim it will damage the dashboard and cause discoloration. It won’t because the plastic surfaces are designed to withstand various kinds of chemicals and even damaging ultraviolet exposure.
When you wash your dash, it is important to do it in a cool time of day, a hot dash will hasten evaporation and may leave soap residue. So, with diluted handwashing or dishwashing mix (1 tablespoon to a liter of water) using one rag, wipe all the dash and door surfaces of your car. You can add a squeeze of lemon to the mix for a clean aroma.
Immediately after cleaning, wipe with a damp rag which you must rinse for every surface cleaned. This is to ensure that no soapy residue is left behind.
Bleaches are highly corrosive so these are not recommended on plastic surfaces.
TOUCHY, TOUCHY. High touch surfaces in a vehicle include the steering wheel, shift knob or the instrument panel, infotainment touch screen, the climate and audio controls, turn signal, power window, mirror, and locking switches. Don’t forget the push-button ignition and even your ignition keys.
Prudently using disinfectant wipes followed by a dry cloth or paper towel is recommended. To avoid damaging the electronics keep away from the USB port, sockets or any similar connection that may be lodged with moisture.
TEXTILES AND FABRICS. A little more complicated than simply a wash and wipe, fabric seats are a little more delicate to handle because of their porous nature could keep bacteria hidden. In the case of COVID-19, the surface may suppress the virus because it does not survive long.
A good spray fabric cleaner is recommended. Spray, brush, wipe dry.
But a mix of two tablespoons of baking soda, a whole lemon into a gallon of distilled water produces a natural cleaner and disinfectant. Just mix very well. The baking soda might leave a residue if used directly so it is better to use a fine spray bottle so the heavy particles are left behind.
Again avoid using bleach-based cleaners. If you wash your leather seats with a non-leather-specialty cleaner, make sure you use a proper leather conditioner on the seats afterwards to prevent cracking. Do not use ammonia-based cleaners on hard plastic surfaces. These are best used for windows and glass surfaces only.
You can also rub the lemon peel directly on the seats to get the lemon oil smell into the leather surface.
NOOKS AND CRANNIES. When disinfecting your car, don’t overlook hidden or soft surfaces. The floor carpets cannot be taken out but can be vacuumed then lightly scrubbed with any of the suggested cleaners, wiped off and then dried with a hair dryer. Wash all floor mats and sundry these. Don’t forget the headliner, the backs of your seats and the seat pockets.
There is one nook that is often forgotten and that is the glove box. Remove all contents, clean and wipe well. Do the same for all door pockets.
For vents use cotton earbuds and even a chopstick with wrapped with cotton.
THE PROFESSIONAL WAY. You also have the option of using professional services to clean and disinfect your car. Methods for detailing include steam cleaning or ultraviolet light exposure. This is best if you’ve got kids or seniors regularly on board.
Detailing, which means taking out the seats and carpets, air vents and air hoses cleans off not only dust and grime but also deep cleanses the entire vehicle’s interior.
MAINTAINING THE CLEANLINESS. Carry a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content and disinfecting wipes. Make it a habit to disinfect your steering wheel, shifter knob, and any other surfaces you regularly lay hands on.
Also, keep disposable gloves handy. You may need to use disinfecting your car and are especially helpful for picking up trash like used tissues that have left in the backseat. After performing a dirty job, dispose of the gloves by peeling them off your hands, turning them inside out in the process. Avoid reusable gloves. They can hold onto the virus and spread it to other surfaces.
Fighting COVID-19 can start in your car! Stay safe!