Washing hands and cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces are two of the best ways to defend against spreading the coronavirus.

But what about the inside of your car?

If you or someone else who has been in your car shows symptoms of the illness, you should clean frequently touched surfaces, including the steering wheel, door handles, shift lever, any buttons or touch screens, wiper and turn signal stalks, passenger and driver door armrests, grab handles, and seat adjusters.

A car’s interior is less durable than, say, a kitchen counter or bathroom sink. So how do you protect those surfaces without damaging them?

With a few notable exceptions, many of the same household cleaners that kill coronaviruses on hard surfaces at home can also clean a car without damaging its interior. Chances are, you may already have some of these products at home.

Alcohol solutions that contain at least 70 percent alcohol are effective against coronavirus as per experts. For the most part, nearly every interior surface of a vehicle can be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol.

Whatever you do, don’t use bleach or hydrogen peroxide on the inside of your car. While they can both kill coronaviruses on surfaces, they will likely damage your car’s upholstery. And do not use ammonia-based cleaners on car touch screens, as they can damage their anti-glare and anti-fingerprint coatings.

Vigorous washing with soap and water can also destroy a coronavirus. Coronaviruses are surrounded by a protective envelope that helps them to infect other cells, and destroying that envelope can effectively disarm them.

Soap and water are also safe for most car interiors—especially fabrics and older leather that may have begun to crack. Just be sure not to scrub too hard

Most car leathers and imitation leathers have urethane coatings for protection, which is safe to clean with alcohol. But over time, cleaning leather with alcohol can leave it susceptible to damage and dis-coloration. Most leathers are dyed, and cleaning too vigorously can remove the dye. Kosilla says he’s heard from car owners who think their light-colored leather is getting dirtier as they scrub it, which isn’t the case.

If you have leather upholstery, use a good leather cleaner followed by a good leather conditioner. On the other hand, if you have fabric upholstery, experts recommend agitating the fabric with a small amount of water and laundry detergent.

We recommend cleaning all surfaces with a micro-fiber cloth. That’s because they’re made of fabric that consists of tiny little loops that capture and sweep away dirt and dust particles before they can scratch delicate or shiny plastic surfaces. By comparison, the dirt and debris in your car can stick to even the cleanest paper towels or napkins and scratch surfaces

Once you’re finished cleaning, don’t forget to wash your hands before and after driving.

Did this answer your question?