The Single Worst Disinfectant to Use in Your Car

A bleaching agent, like bleach or hydrogen peroxide, will kill coronavirus but damage your car.

After going to the grocery store or driving to the park, you're getting back into your car with all the germs from outside still clinging to you. Keeping your car germ-free can be tough when you're on-the-go, but it's essential to help maintain your family's health. There are plenty of disinfectants out there, but not all of them are formulated to work with your car's interior. And one disinfectant in particular is the worst choice for cars.

Consumer Reports warns those looking to disinfect their car's interior to avoid using a bleaching agent, like bleach or hydrogen peroxide: "While they can both kill coronaviruses on surfaces, they will likely damage your car's upholstery." Due to the strength of these products, they can cause fading or irreparable, unsightly damage.

If your car has touch screens, you should also avoid ammonia-based cleaners because they can "damage their anti-glare and anti-fingerprint coatings."

Cleaning car interior with towel

To clean your car without causing any damage just turn to old reliable—soap and water. "Soap and water are safe for most car interiors—especially fabrics and older leather that may have begun to crack. Just be sure not to scrub too hard," Larry Kosilla, president of car detailing company AMMO NYC, told Consumer Reports. The same way washing your hands destroys the coronavirus, using soap and water on your car's interior will eliminate any viruses on the surface.

Dana Ward, senior marketing director at Katzkin—which manufactures leather interiors for vehicles—told Consumer Reports, "We do recommend simple Ivory soap and water to clean spots and spills on our leather-trimmed interiors." Coronaviruses are an enveloped virus; by breaking down the envelope with friction and soap, you can deactivate the virus.

However, if you have fabric interior, be careful not to use too much soap and water. Kosilla warns that if you soak through layers of the fabric, you risk getting a musty scent or maintaining dampness for an extended period of time. He suggests lightly dampening your car's fabric with a small amount of water and laundry detergent for best results.

And for more on car safety amid coronavirus, This Is the Biggest Mistake You're Making in Your Car, the CDC Says.

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