Anyone not living under a rock knows that as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should all be practising what’s now become known as “social distancing,” which means avoiding interaction with others in public places unless absolutely necessary.
But if you’re not sick or showing symptoms of the coronavirus, there’s a good chance you’re still driving to important medical appointments, to pick up the grandkids or to grocery stores, which medical experts are now saying have similar levels of germs as medical clinics.
Here are a few easy steps to ensure you’re not contaminating your vehicle and passing on unwanted viruses to the next person getting behind the wheel.
While cleaning, wear disposable gloves
COVID-19 is passed on by touch, so you’re going to want to protect your hands when you start cleaning. Gloves are especially handy when it comes to picking up trash from your car, including those snotty Kleenexes your kids used and dropped on the floor.
Use soap and water
Sounds basic, but soap can break down the virus much as it does with grease or oil. Medical experts have been telling us all along that washing our hands with soap and water is the best defence against the virus, so it makes sense it would work on hard surfaces, such as consoles and dashboards.
But just as we’ve been advised to do with our hands, soap needs at least 20 seconds of friction cleaning to do its job, especially on interior and exterior door handles, seat belt buckles, the steering wheel, gear shifter and other surfaces you commonly touch.
Also, consider where residue from sneezes and coughs would land, or areas contaminated fingers would touch on and around the driver and passenger seats, including head rests and the back of seats, especially if you have children.
On that note, think of the children
Scrub down car seats and booster seats, wash car blankets, wipe down entertainment systems in the back seat and any remotes or toys.
A mixture of one-third of a cup of bleach per gallon of water or four teaspoons per quart works well to clean surfaces, but make sure not to drip it onto interior rugs or seats.
Pay special attention to touch screens
Of course, you can’t use soap and water on electronics so disinfecting wipes are the way to go – if you can find them.
If you can’t, spritz a little alcohol-based cleaner on a microfibre cloth and give touch screens and infotainment systems a light wipe. And, don’t forget the screens in the back seat that the kids have been touching.
Make sure to avoid ammonia-based cleaning products because they can degrade the anti-glare coating on your screens.
Hand sanitizer (if you can find it)
Keep hand sanitizer, with at least a 60 per cent alcohol, in your vehicle to use as soon as you get into it.
Be gentle on leather
Even approved cleaners can dry out leather, so make sure to use a conditioner once it’s clean and dry. Too much scrubbing can also remove dye from leather, so don’t forget to be gentle and even test a small section of leather located someplace out of sight before full on cleaning.