How to Clean Your Car to Stop Coronavirus Spread, According to Experts

Keep COVID-19 out of your car—and your home—by sanitizing the vehicle regularly.

Many people are busy these days cleaning every inch of their homes or apartments. However, if you own a car, it's just as important to make sure that your vehicle also gets a deep cleaning—and not just once in a while. The coronavirus can easily be transmitted from a surface in, or on, your car, straight into your home.

Richard Reina, product training director of CARiD, recommends starting with a thorough vacuuming of the vehicle's interior. Cleaning out every nook and cranny to remove "dirt, sand, and other debris" can help prevent bacterial growth in your car, he says.

The next step is to consider all the surfaces you touch regularly—these may include door handles, seat belts, center consoles, window buttons, turn signals, radio buttons, air vents, and more, says Laura Adams, safety and education analyst with Aceable.

While all of these surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned every day, Adams does caution that many of the cleaners recommended to fight coronavirus can "ruin plastics, vinyl, and bleach out the fabrics of your car's interior." For this reason, she recommends car owners stay away from products containing bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or ammonia.

"Cleaning products that contain alcohol are generally safe for the interiors of most vehicles," Adams says. "However, it can't hurt to check your vehicle owner's manual for recommendations, especially if you have touch display screens, which may have protective or anti-glare coatings."

If you can't find alcohol-based cleaner, hand sanitizer, or disinfecting wipes at any of your local stores, Adams suggests using microfiber cloths like Rubbermaid's Hygen line.

Reina, on the other hand, highly cautions against using any solvent-based cleaners at all, including alcohol-based ones. Instead, he says scrubbing down your car with soap and water daily is the best course of action—as long as the soap is not labeled "free of detergent," as that's a key cleaning agent.

"Lastly, for extra safety measures, it's a good idea to change out your cabin air filter, which filters out particulates and contaminants in the air before it enters the vehicle's cabin," Reina says.

Besides cleaning regularly, Adams recommends keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer in the pocket of your driver's side door—cleaning your hands before and after you touch anything inside the car. Reina adds that you should also wash your hands immediately after you return from a car ride to prevent spreading coronavirus around your home. And for more tips on how to keep coronavirus out of your living space, check out 15 Ways to Protect Yourself From Coronavirus at Home.

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