Read our article for car cleaning tips on how to keep your family safe during the COVID-19 pandemic
Read our article for car cleaning tips on how to keep your family safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has given a whole new meaning to keeping your car clean. At Changing Lanes, I’ve always been meticulous about keeping the outside of my car clean but what about inside? As COVID-19 continues to spread in Ireland, Europe and the world, I’ve been paying a lot more attention to keeping the inside of the car clean, particularly the parts that I frequently touch inside and outside the car (we have listed these further down in this article).

Viruses are invisible to the eye and survive on surfaces. Before I switched career to journalism, I studied science in college and I have a degree in Microbiology from UCD. So I suppose that makes me a motoring journalist and a microbiologist! While this doesn’t give me immunity to what’s pressed our world on hold, it does give me a little insight into the secret lives of viruses. And it ain’t pretty.

This week, some of our friends in the motor industry have been creating useful content around car cleaning tips for the coronavirus crisis. So I’ve put together some of the best of that content below.

First of all SKODA say, the simplest advice for how to stay safe is to stay home. But what if you have to go somewhere by car? Here’s the best of their advice on protecting you and your family from coronavirus in the car.

Car Cleaning Tips

1. Minimise contact with others.

But if a journey has to be made, protect yourself.

“Ideally don’t go anywhere. If you have to go somewhere, go alone – don’t share the car with anyone. If you have to go with someone, make sure that the person does not have acute symptoms of respiratory illness. Use a respirator or at least a facemask. Make sure you have the contact details of all the other passengers so that you can track them down if you find out you’re infected,” says Jana Parmová, chief physician at ŠKODA.

2. Disinfect.

If you can’t avoid coming into contact with others and going somewhere by car, pay thorough attention to cleaning your car to prevent the spread of infections.

“Disinfect all the surfaces you touch before and after the journey, especially if you’re sharing the car with someone or gave someone a lift,” Doctor Parmová says.

Take this cleaning very seriously: disinfecting the steering wheel, gearstick, handbrake, door handles, radio and infotainment controls would occur to everyone, but don’t forget the stalks on the steering column (indicators and windscreen wipers, cruise control), elbow rests, seat position controls, door frames and exterior door handles or luggage compartment handle. These principles are even more important for taxi drivers and other drivers who transport passengers.

What should you use to disinfect the car? At least 70% alcohol solution is effective against coronavirus, and isopropyl alcohol won’t do the main surfaces in your car any harm. Carmakers and their subcontractors use it to disinfect parts. You can use alcohol to wipe down the seat upholstery and other soft surfaces in the car. But be careful not to soak them through. Alcohol should not damage either leather or imitation leather upholstery, but excessively intensive cleaning with alcohol can discolour the material: so don’t scrub the seats and other leather surfaces too hard. After cleaning, though, leather surfaces in the car should be treated with leather protection products.

Never use hydrogen peroxide, for example, which will most likely damage the car’s surfaces. Don’t use cleaning products containing ammonium on touch screens in the car. Micro-fibre cloths are ideal for cleaning all surfaces and for all cleaning methods.

Some places to pay attention to when cleaning the interior of your car
Some places to pay attention to when cleaning the interior of your car

3. Air your car after cleaning

Doctor Parmová also advises always thoroughly airing your car after you clean it. Clean the air-conditioning unit. Buy a specialised spray (online or at a fuel station) for cleaning a car’s air-conditioning and ventilation system. Although these are not as effective as professional cleaning, they can again help reduce the risk: the disinfection spray may not wipe out the coronavirus, but having a cleaner heating and air-conditioning system means a lower risk of the virus attaching itself to it.

4. Fill up safely at the fuel pumps

If you absolutely have to go somewhere by car, it’s highly likely that you’ll need to buy fuel sooner or later. Don’t forget to be very careful about hygiene at petrol stations. Minimise contact with the staff. Choose a self-service filling station if you can. After filling up your car, immediately wash your hands or at least disinfect them with a hand disinfectant solution.

Pay by contactless card if you can. Some petrol stations let you use contactless payment methods right at the pump, so you don’t need to go inside the shop. And incidentally, another way to reduce risk is by making sure the tank is full, so you don’t need to go back to the petrol station soon after.

Video of how to clean your car during COVID-19 pandemic

Now our friends at Toyota Ireland have created a video with more detail on all those contact points in the car that you need to pay special attention to during car cleaning.

The more we respect these measures, the more we reduce the risk of the infection spreading, and the sooner we can get our lives back to normal. So be considerate, minimise contact with others and journeys by car as much as possible, don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly and use disinfectant.