Recent spikes in COVID-19 cases remind us it may be awhile before things return to something resembling normal. While wearing masks and social distancing in public are urged to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, there are things you can and should be doing to keep your car from becoming a traveling Petri dish as you shuttle between home, work, and other essential destinations. If you’re not sure how to even go about sanitizing your car in a manner that’ll limit your exposure, we’ve got some helpful information below.
1 – Clean Your Interior and Exterior Surfaces
The days of your car being a protective bubble from the outside world are not long gone—they were never here to begin with! Even before 2020, keeping the interior of your car disinfected has always been advised, especially during cold and flu season. It’s even more important now. Where to start? Well, pretty much anything you touch in your vehicle should be sanitized regularly, but pay most attention to high-touch areas. These include your exterior and interior door handles, steering wheel, seat belt buckle, shift lever, and your keys. If your first instincts are to break out the bleach, stop. Bleach can damage plastic surfaces just like rubbing alcohol can. Although they’re hard to find nowadays, Lysol Wipes are the go-to disinfecting wipe for all auto interior surfaces, with the possible exception of leather. A quick wipe over leather is fine, but for more intensive cleaning use a mild leather cleaner or a water/vinegar mix.
2 – Cleaning the Vent System
Pressurized air, like the kind you find in keyboard cleaner spray bottles, will make the easiest work of blowing out your vents. Because of the high likelihood that there’ll be loose particles or bacteria in your vents, be sure to use a paint respirator type mask. These masks filter out 99%+ of particles in the air and offer the most protection. Blowing out your vent system should be done before changing your cabin air filter, which is next.
3 – Have Your Cabin Air Filter Changed
Your car has a built-in HVAC system, and changing out your cabin air filter is the first line of defense in protecting yourself from germs being carried in with outside air. This is also what filters the air already inside your vehicle when you switch over to recirculate. There are several types of cabin air filters available on the market, including standard paper mesh, carbon activated, scented, and those with HEPA filtration. For the purposes of maximum protection against COVID-19, we recommend springing for the HEPA filter.
4 – Hand Wipes
Hand-sanitizing wipes are convenient, smell great, and work well for sanitizing your car’s surfaces and your hands. Use these wipes every time you get in and out of your vehicle.
5 – Plastic Floor Mats
Because our shoes come into contact with more bacteria than any other part of our bodies, it’s important to clean the floor of your car regularly. Winter-style floor mats like those offered by WeatherTech are a great addition at any time, not to mention when in the midst of a pandemic. They can be cleaned easily with a water-based solution or a multi-purpose spray cleaner like OxiClean.
A Reminder to Rideshare Drivers
Because of the high volume of traffic they experience, rideshare drivers for companies like Lyft and Uber should be cleaning the interiors of their vehicles twice as often, if not more. As a rule, rideshare drivers should always set their car’s ventilation to draw in outside air rather than recirculating inside air. Here is how Lyft is addressing COVID-19.
If you need to schedule an appointment to have your cabin air filter changed, Openbay can help you find a qualified auto technician. Use Openbay to find an automotive service provider near you, get an estimate, and schedule an appointment. While most mechanics these days are taking the time to sanitize vehicles before and after service, you can also review customer feedback to ensure you’re patronizing a shop that focuses on safety and sanitation.
Written by Rob Grant, Automotive Service Manager at Openbay. Rob is an ASE Certified Technician and frequent contributor to this blog, specializing in all things automotive service and repair.