The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc around the world and got all of us locked into our homes for the last two months in India. The Indian government has now decided on a staggered lifting of the lockdown, depending on the penetration of the disease in a certain area and has also issued detailed guidelines on maintaining strict hygiene practices in our homes, workplaces and any public places.
I know a lot of us are probably yearning to step out of our homes. But as we start resuming our commutes, it is important to pay attention to maintaining hygiene in our vehicles as well. Our vehicles may have not been used in weeks now, and we need to consider the possibility that they may have been exposed. So, we have compiled the best practices recommended by most automotive manufacturers to sanitize your vehicle against viruses.
Please note that we are not health experts and this list is not comprehensive in any way, there are many other precautions recommended by the government for preventing spread of the disease. This is just to bring forth an easy go-to-list for sanitizing your vehicle.
Ok, so let’s get started.
Things you need
- Isopropyl alcohol – The recommended cleaning agent for most surfaces in vehicle interiors, except for leather
- Soap and Water – If you have leather upholstery or leather ring around your steering wheel
- Microfiber Cloth or Sponge
- N-95 Respirator mask
- Nitrile or Latex Gloves
- Hand sanitizer
Focus Areas are high touch surfaces
The COVID-19 virus spreads through human contact, either direct contact with infected individuals or respiratory droplets. Hence, while cleaning your vehicle, it is important to pay attention to high-touch areas.
- Dashboard, Steering wheel and Gear Stick
- Door handles, hand-rests and Window Controls
- AC Vents
Time to put on your Protective Gear
Before we get started with the steps for sanitization, you must put on your mask and gloves and if you prefer to use a protective gown, feel free to use that as well.
5 Steps for Sanitizing your Car Interiors against COVID-19
- Vacuuming of the interiors
Vacuuming the interiors will get rid of the dust that might be accumulated inside your car and would do a first round of cleaning before we start the sanitation process. If you do not have a vacuum cleaner at home, you can also use cloth wipes. Cover the floor of the car, the area under your seats, the dashboard area and even the seats. Be gentle while vacuuming in case you have leather seats.
- Seat Cleaning
Seat cleaning is a tricky area and you need to be careful what kind of cleaning agent to use. For fabric or leather upholstery, the safest option is to use a cloth or sponge with soap and water and gently wipe across the seat and any stains on the surface. If you have false leather or leatherette, you can also use isopropyl alcohol.
One important thing to note while cleaning the seats is that you do not want to put too much water or soap, else the water may get into the foam and may cause mold.
- Sanitize the Dashboard, Steering wheel and Gear Stick
For the dashboard area, isopropyl alcohol is a safe agent to be used for cleaning and sanitization. You want to focus on areas especially that are high touch including the steering wheel, gear levers, touchscreens, audio systems and any other buttons etc.
If you steering wheel or any part of the dashboard is covered with leather, do not use isopropyl alcohol. Use soap and water to sanitize it.
- Sanitize the Door handles and Window Controls
Door handles are very frequently used both on the inside as well as the outside, hence need special attention. Apart from that, the hand-rests and Window Controls on the inside need to be cleaned properly as well to prevent spread of the virus. You can use isopropyl alcohol on all hard surfaces and soap and water for all upholstered surfaces here as well.
- Cleaning of the AC Vents
AC vents control the air that is let into the inside of a car and hence, it is very crucial that they do not have any infected droplets. You can clean the AC vents easily using a cloth wipe, brush and soap.
COVID-19 Safety at Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
- Use gloves or wipes to operate the connectors/guns for public chargers
- Avoid using manual stations and go for app-operated stations
Prefer low touch EV charging stations which allow for the EVSE to be completely controlled from your mobile phone as opposed to touch screens or manual entry type charging stations.
Daily Hygiene Precautions for driving safe amidst COVID-19
- Keep washing / sanitizing your hands
Hand washing has been recommended as one of the best precautions against COVID-19 and we would recommend you to wash you hands with soap and water before and after every drive. You may also want to keep a sanitizer handy in the car in case you forgot to wash your hands before entering.
- Sanitize your keys, phones and wallets after every drive
Keys, phones, wallets and any other objects that are in contact with the car and your hands continuously also need to be sanitized for safety. Do remember to pay attention to these little objects.