Car interior being disinfected

Disinfect your car without damaging it

(Editor’s note: This article has been updated as of August 21, 2021)

With public transport still difficult to access during this extended period of community quarantines to prevent the further spread of the deadly novel Coronavirus and its more transmissible Delta variant, much of the country’s workforce who still need to travel from their homes to their workplaces need their cars now more than ever.

Private vehicles, however, still require a great degree of disinfecting, especially if the driver and passengers might have been inadvertently exposed to individuals who may have been carriers of the virus, or some other communicable disease.

There are shops that perform professional car cleaning and disinfection. Car owners themselves, however, can also effectively do this. Be mindful, though, that some cleaning agents or solutions can harm your vehicle’s interior. Here are tips for disinfecting your vehicle safely, courtesy of Nissan Philippines.

The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says hand-washing is crucial, but so is disinfecting surfaces, including those in your car.

The CDC recommends wearing disposable gloves to clean and disinfect surfaces, and wiping down surfaces with soap and water prior to disinfection. For vehicle interiors, a soft or microfiber cloth dampened with soap and water can be used on hard surfaces.

Most common disinfectants are effective, but some are not ideal for vehicles, including bleach, hydrogen peroxide, benzene, thinners or abrasive cleaners that can damage upholstery and interiors. The CDC says alcohol-based wipes or sprays with at least 70% alcohol are effective against the coronavirus. These can be safely used in your vehicle.

For car screens, rather than ammonia-based cleaners, use screen wipes or a soft cloth dampened with soap and water to clean; then dry with a clean, soft cloth.

Here’s a checklist for vehicle surfaces to disinfect:

  • Steering wheel
  • Key and remote fob
  • Exterior door handles (both sides)
  • Trunk lid or lift gate grab areas
  • Interior door pulls, both sides and interior door panels
  • Start button, if equipped
  • Rear view mirror, back and edges
  • HVAC vents
  • Gear selector
  • Turn signal lever
  • Windshield wiper controls
  • Center stack knobs

Center console and arm restSeat belt and buckle. Avoid harsh cleaners on the belt itself as they can degrade the fibers and the belt’s strength

Parking brake handle, parking brake or release lever

Watch how Malco Automotive disinfects cars safely and effectively here: