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How to disinfect your car to reduce spread of COVID-19

How to disinfect your car to reduce spread of COVID-19

As per the government's guidelines for social distancing in Ireland, to curb the spread of COVID-19 we are advised against any non-essential travel apart from the necessities such as food shopping, going to work (if you cannot work from home) or to attend medical appointments.

If you do need to travel for any of the above reasons, then in most cases you will be using your car. But are you taking the same measures with cleaning and disinfecting your vehicle as you are with your home?

Here are some tips on how you can clean and disinfect your car so there is minimum risk to you and your passengers.

Please Note: While these are all tested tips for car cleaning, this does not constitute medical advice. Please visit the HSE website for the latest information on coronavirus (COVID-19).


What to use?

We appreciate there might be a shortage of disinfectant right now, so to get the most of yours we recommend that you clean, then disinfect.

Car-specific cleaners are ideal, though household cleaners should work fine. If you don’t have proper cleaning materials, then soap and water should do the trick. A good scrub can weaken the protective pocket the coronavirus sits in (that’s why you’re recommended to wash your hands).

Don’t use too much water – especially around electronics. We also recommend you check the chemicals used in these products to make sure you’re not damaging your car.

Also be aware that scrubbing too hard could remove dye or surface coatings, so take your time and work out how much pressure to apply to be thorough. A microfibre cloth should minimise potential for scratches.

If you want a thorough clean, then try and get cleaning materials specifically for:

• Fabrics

• Exterior metal and plastic

• Interior plastic, vinyl and leather

Where to clean?

Perhaps most important is the steering wheel. One study found that the average steering wheel carried up to four times the number of germs as the average toilet seat. So, even outside of coronavirus concerns, cleaning your steering wheel is a good habit to get into.

It’s worth giving the whole car a good clean inside and out, but you should prioritise areas that are frequently touched. These will include door handles, the gear stick, infotainment and dashboard controls, seats and armrests, seat belts and the handbrake.


Products to avoid

Bleach and peroxide-based cleaners can kill germs, but they will also damage vinyl and plastic, and probably discolour your car too, so we don’t recommend using that.

Chlorine bleach could cause serious damage to the car’s interior. If it gets on the seat belts, it could weaken the fabric and affect the safety.

Avoid using ammonia-based cleaners inside your car. They can break down the vinyl, particularly on the dashboard, and make it sticky under heat and light.

If you have touch display screens, we discourage your from using glass cleaner on them as it can affect anti-glare coatings.

Wash your hands

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, wash your hands often. Washing your hands for 20 seconds can help reduce your risk of catching or spreading coronavirus.

And on a purely practical level, you risk spending hours disinfecting and deep cleaning your car only to bring new germs in every time you drive – unless you wash your hands.


Remember, you should only be using your car for essential trips over the next few weeks. Please stay safe and stay at home unless completely unavoidable.

Carzone - 25-Mar-2020