There has been a mad rush to stock up on disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers and masks with the spread of the corona virus. Studies that are being conducted regarding the spread of the corona virus indicate that the virus can persist in the air for up to three hours and for two to three days on stainless steel and plastic surfaces. Little thought though seems to have gone into how we should sanitize our cars in view of the widespread measures that are being implemented to minimize the risk of infection. There is no argument that washing our hands on a frequent basis and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that we touch most are the two best ways to defend against spreading the coronavirus, based on advice given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States.
In regard to specifically to cleaning car surfaces, the surfaces that we touch most often in the car are the door handles, the steering wheel, the dashboard, the gearshift, buttons and touch screens, wiper and turn signal controls, the armrests, grab handles, and seat adjusters. These surfaces need to be cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis, especially if you are driving a shared or rented car or frequently ferry around a large number of passengers.
It is okay to use the same cleaning solutions that you use for cleaning surfaces in your household as they are not likely to damage the interior of a vehicle. According to the CDC, alcohol solutions that contain at least 70 percent alcohol are effective against coronavirus, and almost every interior surface in a vehicle can be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol, according to Jeff Stout, executive director global innovation at Yanfeng Automotive Interiors.
Yanfeng is the biggest supplier in the world of automotive interior parts, and Stout definitely knows what he is talking about. In fact, in its own factories, Yanfeng uses isopropyl alcohol for cleaning parts. Stout said that Yanfeng uses isopropyl alcohol to clean smudges or any kind of last minute details before it ships its products, which range from plastic trim to painted chrome to imitation leather. They are all tested to ensure they don’t degrade when exposed to pure isopropyl alcohol. According to Stout, even the exterior surface of soft cloth upholstery can be rubbed with isopropyl alcohol in order to clean it. Make sure you read the labels of the cleaning solutions you use and test them on a surface before you go full steam ahead.
Two substances that should not be used when sanitizing a car are bleach and hydrogen peroxide. Though they do have the capability to kill coronaviruses on surfaces, they are also liable to damage the car’s upholstery. When ammonia-based cleaners are used on car touch screens, they can damage their anti-glare and anti-fingerprint coatings.
Washing with soap and water is also quite effective, but it is important not to scrub too hard as most car leathers and imitation leathers have urethane coatings for protection. These coatings are safe to clean with alcohol but as most leathers are dyed, cleaning too vigorously with soap and water can remove the dye.
A good leather conditioner should be used after cleaning leather upholstery. In the event that a vehicle has fabric upholstery, cleaning it with too much soap and water poses the risk of soaking through the fabric down to the cushion beneath. This could lead to a musty smell or promote the growth of mold in the cushions. Instead, it would be better to lightly scrub the fabric with a small amount of water and laundry detergent.
All surfaces need to be cleaned with microfiber cloth. Disposable gloves should be used while cleaning the vehicle. It is also a good idea to wash hands before and after driving as this habit will keep the steering wheel and other frequently touched surfaces in the vehicle relatively clean.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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