COVID-19: Our guide to keeping your car free from the virus

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed our lives. Our daily routines, jobs and tasks have been disrupted since the pandemic started, not only in the UK but also across the whole world. While the lockdown is still ongoing, our thoughts have turned to how we can keep you safe and prevent the spreading of the disease as you continue to use your car for essential journeys such as shopping for food or getting medicine from a pharmacy.

It is very important that you follow both Government and WHO (World Health Organization) advice while we continue to live with restrictions. We hope you take this guide as advice to ensure that you continue to stay safe during the rare occasions that you need to use your car during this period. In general, most vehicles can be a breeding ground for bacteria and should be cleaned on a regular basis.

The information in this guide will help you with tips to ensure your car is clean and it does not constitute medical advice. Please check the NHS website for the latest information specifically regarding coronavirus.

Before we focus on cleaning your car, we must remind you to regularly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and to avoid touching your face to reduce your risk of catching the novel coronavirus.

What do I need to clean my car during the COVID-19 pandemic?

With many shops closing their doors to prevent the spread of coronavirus, you might think that you could struggle to find the products that you will need. Thankfully, you can deep clean the inside of your car with the following items that should be available to purchase from most of the supermarkets that are still open.

  • Antibacterial wipes – Check that they “kill germs”
  • Clean cloth – buy a cheap, new, fresh one
  • Hand sanitiser – current advice is that it should contain alcohol
  • Kitchen/Toilet roll – easy to dispose of after using
  • Disposable gloves – you don’t want to reuse any of these items
  • Household disinfectant – bleach-free to keep safe from hazardous chemicals
  • Bin Liners – to be able to dispose of all potentially contaminated waste

We advise that during this pandemic, you should attempt to throw away all of these products (particularly, those used to wipe) after use. This is to ensure that if there were fragments of the infection inside of your car, you aren’t going to be spreading it within your home.

With regards to cleaning items (aka disinfectant), please try and purchase products that are free from bleach or similar chemicals. These can cause aesthetic damage to the interior of your car such as fading away or the removal of paintwork.

What steps should I take to disinfect my car from coronavirus?

Now that you have the necessary equipment, you should follow these steps to ensure that you are cleaning the interior of your car sufficiently during the coronavirus crisis:

1.    Wear the appropriate protective clothing

The UK Government is currently recommending that you use personal protective equipment (PPE) when cleaning in non-healthcare settings. For your vehicle, as a minimum, you should wear gloves and an apron. Both of these items should be disposed of immediately after usage. To fully comply with government regulations, you should also consider wearing a face mask for your mouth and goggles to cover your eyes when cleaning your car.

2.    Remove everything out of your car

Before you can effectively clean the interior of your vehicle, you need to start from scratch. Remove everything from your car and separate the items into three piles. One for items that you need inside of your car, another for things that can be thrown away and a third for items that you need but could be stored elsewhere. This might seem pointless but every item within your car could’ve been exposed to the virus at some point as all items can harbour bacteria and germs. If you need to put something back in or store elsewhere, make sure that you appropriately wash them for reuse.

3.    Start with the driver’s seat

Out of all the parts of your car, your steering wheel is probably the most exposed to human touch. Use disinfectant around the whole of your wheel including focusing on areas behind as that is where your fingers tend to grip. Clean the horn and any infotainment controls found on the steering wheel with an antibacterial wipe. It is important to predominantly use the antibacterial wipes for cleaning as water could affect the electronics within your vehicle. Don’t forget to move onto all of the control stalks (indicators, windscreen wipers etc.) and wipe the whole length and behind.

4.    Move onto your dashboard

We come into contact with our dashboard more than you probably realise. The radio and heating controls are both used regularly during a drive and therefore you should focus your cleaning attention onto these buttons and knobs. As both passengers and drivers move the air vents during a journey, it’s also important to clean them thoroughly. Wipe in both directions and ensure that you kill any germs that can be blown into the car. Finally, whether you drive an automatic or a manual, scrub the whole gear stick from the bulb to the stem. We also advise that you then finish up by wiping all visible plastic parts around these areas.

5.    Clean all of the seats

The seats do not only include where you or your passenger are sitting. Maintain your focus towards parts of the car that are regularly touched. Seatbelts, the adjust controls, headrests and seat pockets must all be wiped clean with attention to detail. Don’t forget to clean the metal buckles and the clips as well.

6.    Finalise with the doors, handles and your boot

As mentioned previously, we advise that you maintain the majority of your cleaning focus on the interior of your vehicle. Car door handles are riddled with germs and must be cleaned regularly to remain safe. We advise that you also clean the controls for opening and closing your windows as this gets touched regularly. Move your focus onto any interior handles that passengers may have used before finally paying attention to cleaning the entirety of your boot.

What are the essential parts of my vehicle that I should disinfect?

Feel free to follow our free checklist below for where you should be cleaning your car. Government advice is to only clean the interior of your vehicle as external washing (except mirrors and windows) is deemed non-essential.



What should I do after I finish cleaning?

Remove any gloves, cloths, aprons and other attire that you have used to protect your body from contamination and put them into a bin liner. Ideally, you should double bag these items and then store securely for 72 hours before fully throwing them into the rubbish. If you can’t throw out any of the items, follow the instructions from the manufacturer for washing. When you put these into a washing machine, it is advisable to wash at the warmest setting available to you. Dry these items completely before attempting to rewear them.

After you have removed your clothing, make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. This is approximately the time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice, however, we prefer to sing the chorus of ‘Car Wash’ by Rose Royce twice instead!

We hope this guide has helped you feel confident about maintaining the cleanliness of your car during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, you should consider this deep clean of  your interiors after every journey. We advise that you should then maintain this routine (but less often) after life returns to normality as cars will always be a breeding ground for many germs should you fail to clean both internally and externally regularly.


This entry was posted in COVID-19 on by Marc Murphy

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