As the coronavirus (COVID-19) can live on some surfaces for several hours or even days, it is essential that we clean them regularly. Since most car interiors have plastic, it is important to get rid of the virus from these surfaces so that you don’t get it or pass it on to anyone else. Your seats, steering wheel, radio controls, door handles, cup holders and payment equipment are high contact areas and can easily be cleaned to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Commercial Passenger Vehicles (CPV) of Victoria has published vehicle cleaning laws for the CPV industry.
When cleaning your car interior, it is recommended that you wear suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as disposable gloves and a face mask.
You should pay attention to high-touch areas such as:
• steering wheel,
• gear selector,
• door handles (internal and external),
• payment terminals,
• touch displays,
• audio and climate control systems,
• seats and seatbelts,
• window controls,
• cupholders, and
• anywhere directly in the firing line of a sneeze or cough
As these surfaces can be quite textured for grip, they may require extra effort to clean.
What products can be used?
The first step to cleaning and disinfecting your car interior is to choose the cleaning agents and materials you will use. Depending on whether you have leather, cloth, or imitation leather upholstery, steps and cleaning agents will differ.
Isopropyl alcohol is a proven disinfectant and is also safe to use on most car interior surfaces. In fact, it is used in many production plants to put a final touch on interior components before they are shipped out. Isopropyl alcohol will remove many stains, smudges and residues, as well as kill bacteria and viruses. However, that stain removing quality can also cause problems with leather.
If your vehicle has a leather interior, it probably has a thin protective coating to prevent discolouration. Isopropyl alcohol can deteriorate that coating and even remove the dye from the leather itself.
For Cleaning Leather Interior
For leather steering wheels, seating, and trim, a combination of soap and water is a safe and sufficient way to clean them. Do not scrub hard when cleaning your leather interior, and avoid excess suds and water. Hand washing has been recommended as a primary way to protect oneself against infection by COVID-19. This is not only because soap can kill the virus, but also because the friction of washing contributes. This holds true for washing your leather interior as well.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Car Interiors
While car interiors are built to be durable, hard scrubbing or using a rough cloth can cause scratches or even discolouration. A wipe with alcohol on hard surfaces and gentle circular cleaning on upholstery are the best bets for both cleaning and maintaining your car interior.
It is also very important not to use too much water on your seats. If cloth upholstery soaks through with water, it can get into the cushion beneath. This can cause the growth of mould and that musty smell you will recognize if you’ve left your car windows open in the rain.
If washing the seats of your car, it is best to wet cloth or sponge with soap and water and wipe the seats. You do not want to leave excess soap or water, as it can take a long time to dry. Isopropyl alcohol can safely be used on non-leather seats, but it is not an ideal cleaning agent for those surfaces unless you have imitation leather.
If you are not sick and haven’t had anyone sick in your car, don’t get too worried about doing this repeatedly. However, starting with a truly clean slate in your vehicle will certainly give you some peace of mind.
A common recommendation from experts is that once your car’s interior is cleaned and disinfected, it is important to wash your hands before getting in from now on. This will help keep your car a clean place and reduce the chance of a virus making it into your vehicle. Cleaning your hands before and after touching the steering wheel will go a long way to keeping it in good condition after being disinfected.
If you believe you have had someone with COVID-19 in your vehicle, you should disinfect and call your doctor for the next steps. They believe that the virus can survive in the air for up to three hours, and on surfaces for much longer, so it is best to be cautious if you believe your vehicle has been exposed.