By now, you know that to defend against COVID-19, you should disinfect frequently touched surfaces. And that includes your car.
Think about all the surfaces you or your passengers touch. With a little effort, you can thoroughly clean and disinfect your ride. It takes a couple hours, but most likely you have the time right now.
Begin by washing your hands. Then tackle the interior.
What to use: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cleaners containing at least 70% alcohol are effective against coronavirus, and most surfaces can be safely cleaned using isopropyl alcohol. If the cleaner has an EPA registration number on its label, it’s a germ-killing powerhouse. But be sure to read the instructions on how long to leave the cleaner on a particular surface to ensure its effectiveness.
Do not use ammonia, bleach or hydrogen peroxide. They can kill the coronavirus, but they also can damage upholstery and specialty coatings throughout the car’s interior. Work from the top down, using a soft brush to loosen dust and dirt from the cracks and crevices in the dash. The debris will fall on the seats, carpets and mats, which are the final items that get cleaned.
Remove the accumulated debris from the map pockets, glove box, cracks, crevices, the center console and trunk. Wipe out and vacuum the center console bin, glove box and any interior storage bins.
Wipe down the instrument panel and trim panels with a microfiber cloth and a mild cleaner. Use a disinfectant for the steering wheel, door handles, transmission shifter, touch screens, buttons, wiper and turn signal levers, armrests, grab handles, seat belt buckles, cupholders, center console bins, glove box handle and seat adjusters; tackle climate control vents and panel seams with cotton swabs.
To clean the glass, spray window cleaner on a towel so mist doesn’t fall on your clean dashboard. Follow with a second towel to avoid streaks. Vacuum upholstered areas and carpets, including headliner and the rear parcel shelf. Be sure to reach under the seats. And don’t forget about the trunk.
Clean the seats. Upholstery cleaner or a steam cleaner will do for cloth seats. For leather seats, use a mild leather cleaner or saddle soap, followed by a leather conditioner. This prevents the leather from drying out and cracking. Do not rub too hard; leather is often dyed, and scrubbing too firmly harms it.
Shampoo the carpet and scrub the floor mats with a scrub brush. Grab a cold beverage and check your social media feed while the interior dries. You’re about to tackle your vehicle’s exterior.
Use the correct soap
For the outside, use a car washing liquid that’s designed for use on automotive paint along with a natural sponge. Don’t use household cleaners or dishwashing liquid, which can harm modern finishes.
You need multiple sponges for this job, one for each cleaner. If you drop it, get a clean one; small bits of debris from a dropped rag can scratch paint.
Start by rinsing the car thoroughly with gently flowing warm water to loosen dirt. Avoid using high pressure or hot water, which can damage paint.
Wash the car from the top down, moving the sponge lengthwise across the car. Use a separate bucket of water to clean the sponge before starting on each area of the car. This prevents small debris from scratching the paint. Don’t forget to wash the door jambs and the channel around the trunk and sunroof.
Rinse thoroughly, starting at the top and working your way down.
Next, clean brake dust from wheels using a wheel cleaner designed for your type of wheel, be it chrome, aluminum or painted. Rinse. While doing that, direct the hose into the underside of the wheel well to remove dirt or debris.
Dry the car using a chamois or soft terry towel in a back-and-forth motion. Remember to dry the door jambs, sunroof and trunk channels. Finally, clean your keys and key fob, most likely they’re covered with germs.
Finally, put a small bottle of hand sanitizer in the glove box, along with some disposable gloves. Gas pump handles and buttons are exceptionally dirty and rarely cleaned.