How To Clean Your Car Properly To Kill Coronavirus Before It Spreads

Keep your vehicle coronavirus-free.

How To Clean Your Car Properly To Kill Coronavirus Before It Spreads getty

Since we’re learning about coronavirus as we go along, recommendations and best practices are continuously changing as this disease becomes more serious. It’s important to stay up to date to and aware of what’s going on, and that means checking the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website as well as credible news sources.

One thing that never changes when it comes to disease prevention is the effectiveness of washing your hands. Other safety precautions are just as important, such as social distancing, since the virus is spread from person to person. But even though you've been inside, there are other surfaces you should be cleaning as well.


What you need is a guide for how to clean your car and kill coronavirus.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Limit Coronavirus Exposure When Grocery Shopping Or Ordering Takeout

Since COVID-19 can remain on surfaces from “hours to days,” depending on the surfaces, if you wash your hands and touch an infected surface, you’re exposing yourself to the virus. Just because something looks clean, doesn't mean it is. Bacteria and viruses are microscopic, so you can't detect them with your eyes alone.


All that said, when was the last time you cleaned your car? When I say cleaning your car, I don’t simply mean going to a carwash and vacuuming your vehicle. Cleaning your car means actually going into it and disinfecting.

Cars can be breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. A survey from CarRentals found that only 32 percent of people clean the inside of their car only once a year.

Yes, just once a year! That is quite alarming data, given the fact that we use our cars often, almost every day in most cases.

How often should you clean your car?

How often you clean your car should be based on the frequency of which you use it and what you use it for. For instance, if you're an Uber, Lyft, or taxi driver, your vehicle is inevitably going to be exposed to more germs because of all the passengers you pick up.


Cleaning your car also depends on whether or not you eat inside it. Studies have shown that bacteria grows quickly in cars than other places due to heat, and because it's difficult to get into tiny spaces to clean. Eating in your car introduces it to more bacteria; in those cases, you should clean it more.

The frequency in which you choose to clean your car is up to your discretion, but it's evident that you should do it more than once per year.

What part of your car has the most bacteria?

About 700 different strains of bacteria can be found in the average vehicle, according to CarRentals. If you didn’t guess it already, your steering wheel is the dirtiest part of your car.

Believe it or not, your steering wheel is dirtier than a toilet seat, your phone, and an elevator button. This could be because drivers are always touching their steering wheels, as well as touching other dirty areas of their car.


Think about it. How often do you drive while eating a snack, touching your face, or using your GPS?

What cleaning products should you avoid when disinfecting your car?

Within a car, there are quite a few different surfaces. Because of the variation, it’s important to choose a cleaner that isn’t abrasive or damaging to the more sensitive surfaces, or use more than one cleaner for the differing surfaces.

As a rule of thumb, don’t use products that contain bleach, ammonia, or hydrogen peroxide to clean your car. While they are strong enough to kill coronavirus, they’re also strong enough to ruin the surfaces within your vehicle.

Also, be careful to not scrub too aggressively. Aggressive scrubbing will unnecessarily damage your surfaces. It’s not about how hard you scrub, but rather, what you scrub with.


RELATED: A 6-Step Guide To Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer & Protect Yourself Against Coronavirus

Is soap and water effective for cleaning your car?

Believe it or not, yes! Good old soap and what will never steer you wrong. This combination can kill coronavirus without damaging the sensitive surfaces within your car.

But the issue with using soap and water is that it can be a little messier because of the suds and water. If you use too much water, you run the risk of creating a musky smell or growing mold within the car cushions. The soap and water cleaning method can also take longer to clean the car, so this makes it even more time-consuming. 

Disinfecting wipes are a great alternative. But because they're in such short supply and are basically impossible to find in stores now, it's better to look for another solution.


What is the best way to clean and disinfect your car?

It's by creating a multisurface, safe cleaning solution.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 70 percent isopropyl alcohol
  • Distilled water
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Spray bottle


1. First, put the 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and distilled water into the spray bottle.

2. After all the liquids are in the bottle and the top is screwed on, shake the bottle so they are mixed together.

3. Simply spray the solution within your car. Make sure to get areas that are extremely dirty — the steering wheel, inside door handle, and seat belt. Also don't forget to spay the cup holder, gears, and audio settings, in addition to the seats.


4. Gently use the microfiber cloth to dry up the excess solution and wipe the germs away. 

Please note that you shouldn't spray this solution more than once a week on the touch screen surfaces of your car, so you don't break down its coating. When it comes to the leather and imitation leather within your vehicle, clean it with caution and not to often to avoid discoloration and peeling. When used correctly, this solution will not damage your car.

If you'd rather buy a solution instead, there are great products available that work well on leather, cloth, and many more interior surfaces. Just don't use these products on your windows.

Overall, be sure to stay safe, do your part to flatten the curve, and stay inside!


RELATED: The Best Way To Disinfect Your Phone & Keep Yourself Safe From A Coronavirus Outbreak

Tamara Sanon is a writer with a passion for covering topics about health and wellness, lifestyle, astrology, and relationships.​