Keeping Your Car Clean During Coronavirus

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Bethany Hickey is a graduate from the University of Michigan-Flint, with a bachelor’s in English-Writing. She is a content writer for Auto Credit Express, CarsDirect, and many other automotive blogs, as well as the Poetry Editor for UM-Flint’s writing magazine.


, Contributing Writer - April 7, 2020

During coronavirus epidemic, many states have enacted stay-at-home orders. But if you’re like most people, you still need your car for a few things: work, grocery trips, medical assistance, etc. While you may be washing your hands and disinfecting your home, have you cleaned your vehicle lately? We have tips on keeping your car clean and disinfecting it (there’s a difference!).

How the Coronavirus Spreads

You’ve likely heard by now that the best way to stop the spread of the coronavirus is to wash your hands, since the virus mainly spreads from person-to-person through contact. But if you’re still touching dirty surfaces, washing your hands can only help so much.

Think of all the things you touch when you drive: you grab your keys, unlock the car, pull the door handle, put your seatbelt on, grab the steering wheel, adjust the rearview mirror, turn on the radio, roll the window down, hit the turn signal lever, wipers, and maybe even plug your phone in. Lots of surfaces, right?

According to WebMD, the virus can live on some surfaces for a few days at a time:

  • Copper – four hours
  • Cardboard – 24 hours
  • Plastic or stainless steel – two to three days

The good news is that you may already have some items that can help clean and disinfect your vehicle. If you’ve got soap and water, disinfecting wipes, and some detergents, you’re well on your way to keeping your car clean and disinfected.

How to Clean and Disinfect Your Car

Since you touch so many things while driving, be sure to thoroughly focus on cleaning those surfaces before you disinfect. Do a mock-entry into your car and make note of the areas you touch in the cabin. Once you’ve noted those high-traffic areas, get some gloves and gather your cleaning products, some of which you probably already have – like soap and water.

When you clean with soap and water, it makes surfaces slippery allowing you to wipe germs away. Disinfecting, however, kills or inactivates germs and viruses

The ol’ reliable soap and water can be used on your vehicle’s surfaces, and it doesn’t need to be antibacterial soap since scrubbing is enough to wipe away germs and grime. Bleach can be used to disinfect surfaces, but it’s probably going to spot and ruin your car’s interior. Hydrogen peroxide isn’t as effective as bleach and still works as a disinfectant, but it can cause coloration damage – and the same goes for rubbing alcohol. Alcohol can also cause damage to leather, since it soaks up natural oils. There also isn’t any evidence that vinegar can kill the coronavirus.

Luckily, there are car cleaning products that kill viruses from brands such as Armor All or Arm and Hammer. Both have disinfectant wipes and sprays made for vehicles, but their odor-removing products won’t do anything to remove germs. If you have cloth seats, you can use various cleaners with detergent. Be sure to clean the backs of your front seats, as well, since a passenger’s cough or sneeze could have landed on those surfaces.

An important piece of advice: be careful when mixing any cleaning products. Follow the instructions on any cleaning product you choose when cleaning your car, and to avoid damaging your interior, check the ingredients.

After a thorough cleaning of your vehicle’s interior, be sure to disinfect your keys and/or key fob and your phone. And remember to wash your hands once everything is done!

The Bottom Line

Washing your hands is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from viruses, like COVID-19 and even the common flu. But if your car has germs and viruses living on its surfaces, there’s still a risk of getting sick.

If cleaning your vehicle feels like a lost cause due to its age or condition and you’re looking for your next auto loan, we want to help with that as well! Here at CarsDirect, you can browse car deals and new and used vehicles completely online. We also help connect borrowers with unique credit situations to dealerships that have special finance departments.

You can browse cars online from the comfort of your home and get connected to a dealer – even if you have bad credit – all on our site. To find a dealership near you, simply complete our free auto loan request form. It's secure, quick, and right here!

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, Contributing Writer

Bethany Hickey is a graduate from the University of Michigan-Flint, with a bachelor’s in English-Writing. She is a content writer for Auto Credit Express, CarsDirect, and many other automotive blogs, as well as the Poetry Editor for UM-Flint’s writing magazine.


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