The Coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc all over the world, with multiple countries on lockdowns. Self-isolation, social distancing and quarantining are what most people are turning to. These preventive measures are coming in handy in stopping the spread of this disease. One of the surest ways to combat the spread of COVID-19 is to ensure proper hygiene. Washing one’s hands thoroughly and sanitizing the environment is key to avoid spreading the virus. Disinfecting high-touch surfaces is one of the best ways to defend against spreading the coronavirus, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Sanitizing work stations, laptops, desks, public transport, and even cell phones is highly recommended and several articles have been published on how to effectively do so. Personal vehicles are also one of the most frequented modes of transport and can potentially be the vehicles (heh) of the spread of viruses.
According to Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Centre, frequently touched surfaces, including the steering wheel, door handles, shift lever, any buttons or touch screens, wiper and turn signal stalks, passenger and driver door armrests, grab handles, and seat adjusters must be cleaned thoroughly and disinfected to minimize the risk of spreading infection.
For cab and taxi drivers, it is even more necessary to ascribe this advice. Hordes of people hail taxis every day and maintaining a check is not feasible every time. Renting a car can also be dangerous and thus taking precautionary measures is crucial. To combat this, regularly cleaning these surfaces is a must.
The question arises on how to properly sanitize a car surface. Since it is more prone to damage than regular surfaces, figuring out an effective way to clean is important. Barring a few, many of the same household cleaners that kill coronavirus on hard surfaces at home can also clean a car without damaging its interior.
These are products of everyday use that can be used intelligently to prevent damage as well as ensure hygiene.
Alcohol solutions that contain at least 70 percent alcohol are effective against coronavirus, according to the CDC. For the most part, nearly every interior surface of a vehicle can be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol, as said by Jeff Stout, executive director of global innovation at Yanfeng Automotive Interiors. Isopropyl alcohol is used to clean parts at the factories as well, “We will use that to clean smudges or any kind of last-minute details before we ship the product. All the company’s products—from plastic trim to painted chrome to imitation leather—have been tested to ensure they don’t degrade when exposed to pure isopropyl alcohol” Stout says.
Bleach and hydrogen peroxide are also effective against coronavirus but will damage your vehicle permanently. The upholstery will not fight off the damaging properties of these stronger cleaners and will disintegrate. It is advised to stick to alcohol-based cleaners for the insides of your car. Using ammonia-based cleaners on car touch screens is also a cause for concern as they can damage their anti-glare and anti-fingerprint coatings.
Soap and water are also safe for most car interiors—especially fabrics and older leather that may have begun to crack. Just be sure not to scrub too hard, says Larry Kosilla, president of car detailing company AMMO NYC and host of a popular YouTube channel about car detailing.
If your car has fabric upholstery, Kosilla warns against cleaning it with too much water or too much soap. “The goal is not to create too many suds. If you get suds, you’ll have suds forever,” he says. Instead, Kosilla recommends lightly agitating the fabric with a small amount of water and laundry detergent.
Both Stout and Kosilla recommend cleaning all surfaces with a microfiber cloth. That’s because they’re made of fabric that consists of tiny little loops that capture and sweep away dirt and dust particles before they can scratch delicate or shiny plastic surfaces. By comparison, the dirt and debris in your car can stick to even the cleanest paper towels or napkins and scratch surfaces—” like sandpaper,” Kosilla says.
No matter how much you clean, the most crucial step is to wash your hands before and after driving. “The number one thing is to clean your hands,” Kosilla says. “You can clean your steering wheel, but if you have dirty hands, you put that dirt back on.”
Washing your hands is the most reliable way to ward off coronavirus and maintain good car hygiene.
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