How to effectively clean the inside of your car if you’re worried about COVID-19
Home/Car Care Tip/How to effectively clean the inside of your car if you’re worried about COVID-19
The EPA has published a list of cleaning products that are registered for use against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. There are other products that use the same active ingredients we’ve discussed, but choosing a product from this list may give you extra peace of mind — assuming you can find any of them in stock. Whatever you use on car surfaces, read the directions and note how much contact time it requires to kill germs and viruses. A quick wipe is just antiviral theater. The product’s fine print may surprise you, with recommended “wet times” of anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes. Note that these products could affect the supple, moist-looking, deep color most of us value on our car’s interior surfaces. That’s why the owner’s manual advises against them, but you have to judge the risk to the interior finishes vs. the risk from people who are in your car.
Where to clean Carefully cleaning your car’s interior can be a big chore — ask any auto detailer who gets paid a lot of money to do so — but you can simplify the job by focusing on these 12 hot spots. It’s a lot, but to clean the inside of your car if you’re worried about COVID-19 can seem like an overwhelming task so we’ve boiled it down to the “dirty dozen!” • Key and remote fob • Exterior door handles, both sides • Trunk lid or liftgate grab area • Interior door pull, both sides • Start button, if equipped • Rear view mirror, back and edges • Vents • Gear selector • Center stack knobs, buttons and screen • Seat belt and buckle (avoid harsh cleaners on the belt itself, lest they degrade the fibers and the belt’s strength) • Parking brake release • The screen is a tricky area: It gets touched a lot, but it’s a bad place to use any kind of serious cleaner. Use screen wipes — which aren’t anti-microbial — and use your voice more often!
Disinfecting the air in your car Few of us drive with the window down than we did in years past, so your car’s HVAC system is at the center of everything you breathe. Combine that with the current concerns about respiratory infections and you’ll want to attend to your car’s ventilation system. You can unleash fogger sprays in your closed, unoccupied car while the HVAC runs, or spray them directly into vents. I couldn’t demonstrate one in the video above because I couldn’t find any in stock in time for our shoot date, so high is the run on such products. That’s a nonissue for residents of California, Kansas and Washington states, where the product has been pulled from sale since the top of 2020 due to tightened labelling and application rules. Whatever product you use, the most effective way to sterilize your HVAC and vent system is to find the main air intake, often near the base of the windshield or under the rear edge of the good, and spray the HVAC cleaner in there while the system runs full blast. Ozium Sanitizer spray Contains triethylene glycol to kill germs and viruses
A car air cleaner that contains an ingredient known to reduce bacteria and viruses without the risk to mucous membranes encountered with ozone.
It’s not always labelled, but consider a car vent cleaner that contains triethylene glycol, which has been known to kill bacteria and moderately neutralize some viruses in the air ever since scientific reports looked like this. Unlike ozone, it’s regarded as safe in the air around humans at decontaminating concentrations. Note that, as with most products in this list, I’ve found no specific testing of efficacy against the current coronavirus that causes COVID-19. That’s to be expected as the strain is so new but to best of our current knowledge these are the best ways to clean the inside of your car if you’re worried about COVID-19. Cleaning outside air We’ve cleaned our vents, but what about the air coming in through them? Change your cabin air filter, something you probably never did before. You’ll find standard replacement filters as well as some that are treated with Microban, which claims to at least kill many bacteria. The efficacy of a car’s cabin air filter varies widely with the make, model and year of the car. Our 2004 Crown Vic has a small filter that will barely block insects, while our 2004 Boxster has a large, pleated filter. Meanwhile a Tesla Model S or X has a filter so powerful it claims to block bioweapons and even clean the air around the car.
One last thing to think about is the effect of window tint on germs in your car. Virologists know that UV from the sun is a moderate, persistent virus killer and your car probably sits in it for hours each day. But many of us get tint applied to our windows, a technology that often brags of blocking 99% of UV rays. Guess what you may have just turned off? The sun’s free disinfection service. Like we didn’t have enough to worry about!
We are a water-saving, All Hand Wash, so we don’t use the toxic chemicals found in most “tunnel” washes. From a simple exterior wash to complete exterior and interior detailing, come see us when you’re ready for a Better Car Wash! Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles and two in San Luis Obispo.