Keeping your car clean and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

We should all hold a far greater understanding of how the COVID-19 virus can be passed on, by now. Continuing to apply the measures laid out by the NHS and WHO plays a huge part in containing the spread of contamination. We can all play a role in the simplest ways, doing our best to keep the spread of COVID-19 as low as possible.

It’s clear that to protect yourself and your household, keeping surfaces and the things we touch clean is paramount. And your car is a prime area for concern.

A clean car is a healthy car

Even during normal daily use, sanitising your car offers many benefits.

  • Improves the air quality inside your vehicle
  • Significantly lowers the chances of allergies affecting passengers
  • Removes problem odours, and prevents mould from growing
  • Protects your health
  • Adds comfort and satisfaction to your driving experience

We suggest taking this opportunity to get into a regular habit of giving your car a thorough deep clean. When we eventually get back to a life nearer what we’re used to, you can carry on enjoying the many benefits of keeping your car in showroom condition.

The devil’s in the details

You need to clean every part of your car—inside and out—but carrying out a deep clean to try and reduce the spread of the virus, we suggest you pay special attention to:

  • Door handles
  • Armrests
  • Rearview mirror
  • Central console, switches and levers
  • Steering wheel
  • Gearstick
  • Seat belts and seat belt clips
  • Handbrake
  • Bonnet opening lever/switch
  • Controls, buttons and switches
  • Car radio and infotainment systems
  • Cup holders
  • Light switches

The all-in guide to your thorough deep clean and car sanitising

1. Prepare yourself for the process

It’s important to protect yourself before you even start. Washing your hands is one of the most important ways to avoid contamination—so wash up before you start and when you finish. Wear washing up gloves, and where possible, limit the areas of skin on show to avoid any unnecessary direct contact. You’re going to dislodge a lot of dirt and dust, so you may want to consider wearing a facemask to prevent breathing in anything that can lead to reduced health.

Locate all the cleaning products you’re going to need and a black bag for every last item that needs to be thrown away when you’re done.

2. Strip the car down to its bare bones and vacuum

First things first—open all the doors and windows for maximum ventilation. Pull out the floor mats, take off the seat covers and remove any items from the seats or back shelf until the car is completely empty. Then, meticulously sweep out every last bit of debris.

Don’t forget to empty the boot and get to work in there too. It’s going to get plenty of use considering the main reason to leave the house is to do your supermarket shop.

Vacuum the whole car thoroughly. Get a stiff brush into the corners to remove any stubborn dirt, grime or mould, to loosen it up before attacking those extra-problem areas with the vacuum.

3. Wash the interior thoroughly, and soak your floor mats

If you’ve got specialist fabric shampoo for your seats, then that’s great. If not, then a good mix of soap and water is fine to combat the virus. If you’ve got detergent and disinfectant available, then they’re both great products to try and can help prevent the spread of the virus, according to experts.

Sponge down the seats and all material parts of your car’s interior. If you’ve got a bowl or container big enough, fill it with the same mix of hot water and detergent and leave all the floor mats and removable fabric items to soak for at least half an hour.

Keep water use to a minimum – You want your car to get a thorough wash, but it’s important not to use too much water or soak your seats and footwells. Too much water can promote mould growth, which in turn leads to musty odours and foul-smelling interiors. Be sure that all fabric dries thoroughly, before reducing the ventilation to your car’s interior.

If your car has leather seats, then you need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to which specialist-cleaning products you should use.

A lot of soft fabrics don’t like bleach or harsh cleaning products. Be sure to check whichever parts of your car are getting the deep-clean treatment that they can withstand the products you’ve chosen for the job.

And although bleach is a great cleaning product in many typical situations, it isn’t necessarily the best option in the case of this virus, or for your car’s interior. Bleach can damage many plastics and types of vinyl, and weaken fabrics, such as those used for seatbelts. A bleach-free household disinfectant, or basic soap and water mix, is as good an option as any.

4. Don’t forget to scrub plastic panels, handles and armrests

You might normally clean the plastic, wood and leather effect components using just a polish or a spray. To deep clean your car, they too need a thorough scrubbing with hot soapy water before disinfecting.

Door handles, inside and out, are some of the most touched areas of your car, so they need rigorous attention.

A car steering wheel has been found to carry up to four times as many germs as an average toilet seat. It goes to show how often we clean our cars compared to our bathrooms!

5. Sanitise and disinfect

We understand the significant importance of using alcohol-based gels on our hands, so it makes sense to use an alcohol-based disinfectant in our car. Isopropyl alcohol cleaners and disinfectants are readily available and are the best suited to the job.

Apply sanitizer to your car’s surfaces with a sponge. You need to work around the whole of the interior, rubbing down door panels, the centre console, dashboard, pillar covers, and every component and area you can access.

Don’t forget to clean and sanitise your car keys! Your car key is going to get handled every time your car is used. It’s also likely to be passed around from driver to driver—you could be passing around the virus while you do. Take extra care and sanitise it after each use.

6. Wash your car’s exterior

Your car’s interior should now be looking and smelling its best. Washing your car’s exterior with car shampoo or hot soapy water comes next. Spend a little extra time on the outside than you normally would. The most essential areas for concern are, of course, the door handles. Let soap rest on them for 5 minutes or so to maximise its impact.

Don’t forget the boot handle or switch. It may be hidden out of sight, but it’s going to receive a lot of human contact. The boot sill where you grab it to shut the boot again is also a prominent point of contact, so be sure to pay close attention there too.

Rinse off all the soap and dirty water to reveal your impeccably clean car. A good coat of polish wouldn’t go amiss at this point either.

7. Cleaning up is as important as cleaning your car

All the dirt, dust and disposable materials should be tied up in the black bag and thrown away in your outside household dustbin. Reusable cloths and cleaning tools need to go straight into the wash or cleaned manually to try to remove possible traces of the virus.

All of your clothes need to go straight into the wash too—and so should you! Take a long bath or a shower to give yourself a thorough deep clean. Be sure not to touch any surfaces along the way with dirty hands, clothes or cleaning materials.

Keep it clean – get into a routine

As we said earlier, good vehicle hygiene offers many benefits in regular life, but it’s more beneficial than ever right now.

If you can get into the routine of regular car cleaning and sanitising, then you’re giving yourself and your family the best chances of protection from the virus when you venture out.

In between deep cleans and sanitising, keep sanitizer handy for the most touched areas: door handles, steering wheels and switches. Always wash your hands before and after journeys.

It could mean the difference between staying safe and developing a dangerous bout of a deadly disease.