Even as many people find themselves spending more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no doubt you’ll have to go from place to place throughout this period. Unless you are walking or biking there, chances are good you’ll need to use your car. That may mean putting yourself at risk for picking up COVID and bringing it home with you. No one wants that. So you will need to be regularly cleaning your car during COVID. With a few helpful cleaning strategies, you may be able to effectively avoid those risks and feel confident every time you step out of your car.
First, Know the Risk
There is a lot of misinformation about coronavirus out there. A great deal of it puts people at risk for not realizing just how easy you can pick it up. It’s always best to follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updates about the illness and steps you can take to keep your home, person, and even your car clean.
The risks are several. First, any time you enter anyone’s home, any building, or come into contact with other people at work, you could pick up the virus. There’s not a lot of information about it available in terms of how long it can stay in the air or on surfaces (again, the misinformation that is there means it’s just best to err on the side of caution.) Second, you don’t want to bring those germs into your car and, without knowing it, into your home. These are a few strategies to help you to do just that.
Who Is in Your Car Matters
If you are bringing a person to the doctor who may have or has COVID-19, take extra precautions at cleaning your car. It is always best to keep individuals who have risk factors – such as fever, coughing, or a loss of taste – from getting into your car. If that can’t be done, you, as a driver, should wear an N-95 mask. You should also wear eye protection. Passengers should wear a facemask.
Cleaning the Interior of Your Car
You’re a busy person. You’re going place-to-place and interacting with others. There is no way to know if any surface of your car is at risk for carrying the virus. That’s why it is a good idea to follow a few basic steps for cleaning the interior of your car during the pandemic.
At the same time, you don’t want to do things that could damage the interior of your car. Using the wrong products could lead to that.
Clean the High-Touch Areas First
The primary risk factors are areas where people touch frequently. These are the areas where you are most likely to spread the virus. That includes:
- The outside handle of the car door
- The inside handle of the car door
- The radio buttons you typically use
- The steering wheel
- The window buttons
- Climate control units
- Seat belts
- Tun signals
- Armrest for both driver and the passenger
- Grab handles in the front seat
- Seat adjustment levers
It sounds like a lot of surfaces, but just watch yourself while you drive one day. How many surfaces do you touch to get in and out? Do you touch the car seats to put down your phone? Perhaps you reach around the back of one set to place your purse in the back. All of these high-touch areas need to be sanitized. These are the areas you want to focus on primarily.
So How Do You Do It – Cleaning Products for Your Car
In the ideal world, it would be easy to have sanitizing wipes and sprays available to disinfect these surfaces often and easily. The problem is, finding these products has become much harder to do.
If you have the ability to do so, look for disinfectant wipes that contain at least 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. The FDA has approved some types of disinfectant sprays as helpful in killing the germs on hard, nonporous surfaces. You can use these, as long as it is safe to use them on the surfaces in your car.
In most cases, you’ll want to use soap, hot water, or alcohol solutions to clean the surfaces in your car. These solutions can provide the highest level of protection for you. Yet, it is important to know that it takes more than a few seconds for the virus to be broken down by these soaps. For that reason, you need to be thorough and take your time. Always aim to allow surfaces to air dry, too.
Here are a few things to keep in mind for cleaning your car during COVID-19.
- Avoid using alcohol-based products on imitation and real leather seating. Many have a urethane coating on them that can be damaged by alcohol.
- Use soap on most types of upholstery and leathers – look for a product that’s anti-bacterial whenever possible.
- Use as little water as you can when cleaning these surfaces with soap. You do not want to saturate the upholstery or get the electronics wet.
- You can use a leather conditioner on the seats after wiping them down. This may help to minimize the risk of the leather cracking.
- Use some extra time and pressure when cleaning the highest risk surfaces, such as the steering wheel.
Whenever possible, wear gloves at the start of the cleaning process. Then, toss them out once you are done cleaning. Don’t touch your face, eyes, or mouth while you are cleaning the car. That’s how germs spread easily.
Minimize Risks to Electronics
That big, beautiful touchscreen that provides you with navigation isn’t designed to be waterproof. You also don’t want to saturate any of the electronics on your vehicle’s instrument panel, steering wheel, or dash. Use a damp – rather than wet – close with alcohol-based sanitizer on them to keep them clean. Always refer to your owner’s manual for more steps and strategies for cleaning these surfaces clean.
Don’t Forget the Windows
How are the windows in your car dirty and potentially contaminated? Think about the last time the person in your passenger seat sneezed. They probably did their best to cover their mouth, but they still managed to spray germs across the windshield. Kids, with their goopy fingers, could easily have wiped something on the windows, too.
Windows can handle soap or alcohol-based products for cleaning. Be sure to do these surfaces with a bit of extra attention to ensure they do not streak.
What Types of Products Are Dangerous for Your Car’s Interior?
You really want to brush away all of the germs in your car, but you don’t want to tank the vehicle’s value as you do so. There are some products that are just not safe to use on the interior of your car. That includes:
- Any type of product with ammonia in it
- Any type of product with bleach in it (including sprays)
- Hydrogen peroxide products of any type
If you are unsure, it is always best to reach out to the manufacturer, read the owner’s manual, or err on the side of caution instead. Most often, if you do use these products, there is no way to undo the damage they cause.
Regularly Cleaning Your Car During COVID Helps
You’ll have less risk and less work to do if you take a few extra steps to keep the interior of your car clean. For example, ask anyone getting into your car to sanitize their hands first. That way, they are not bringing anything in easily. It is best to wear a mask – and to have the passengers that do not live with you – do the same. That’s not always going to be possible, though.
You also want to have enough products in your car to keep your car clean during the pandemic. No matter where you are going, you’ll want to have a mask and disposable gloves on hand. If you need to stop for gas, put the gloves on before you get out of the car, use the pump, pay, and then take the gloves off and toss them into the trash. You also want to keep hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in your car if possible.
Are You Ready for a Road Trip Yet?
Each one of these products will greatly increase your chances of minimizing COVID spread. Sure, you may not want to spend time doing this every few days, but it may help to reduce a lot of your stress and allows you to minimize the risk of exposing others to the virus. Be proactive to avoid having to be reactive. Whether you are planning a road trip this summer or you are just hoping to keep your car in good condition, these strategies will help you.
Don’t Overlook Opportunities to Save Money
Once you’re done cleaning your car during COVID, it might be a good time to see if you could save money on your car loan. RefiJet provides auto loan refinancing that could lower your monthly payment and make paying your loan right now easier to do. With easy eligibility requirements, RefiJet aims to make it as easy as possible for our clients to secure the loan that is right for them.