How To Disinfect Your Car’s Interior Without Causing Damage

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We have been asked. What’s the best way to disinfect a vehicle’s interior without lowering its value. So we decided to write this article to give our community the best tips possible.

A Car Detailing illustration

The Disease Control and Prevention Center (CDC) gives advice on this subject. It states that washing our hands and disinfecting high-touch surfaces are the best ways to contain the spread of Viruses.

If the Coronavirus outbreak has you worried about how to keep your environment clean, then you should consider the interior of your vehicle at the top of your list.

A recent study shows that Coronaviruses can linger on surfaces such as plastics and glass for up to 9 days.
According to Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center, the most important parts that we should disinfect in our vehicles are the following:

  • Door Handles
  • Buttons
  • Touch Screens
  • Wiper and turn signals
  • Armrests and Grab handles
  • Seat adjusters
  • Steering wheel

Disinfecting your home is pretty simple. Household cleaners can destroy COVID-19 such as Bleach and Hydrogen Peroxide.

But can you use the same chemicals on the inside of your car?

The active ingredient in many household cleaners is Sodium Hypochlorite which is household bleach. Bleach is a great disinfectant for your kitchen and bathroom surfaces. But it is way too harsh for your car’s interior. It can ruin materials such as plastics and leather. Especially if used frequently.

Woman holding a bottle of Isopropyl Alcohol

Other safer to use products contain Benzalkonium Chloride like Formula 409. These products have been proven to kill viruses without causing too much damage. But even these products are not recommended to be used on a vehicle’s interior. They can have long-term effects that can cause leather and plastics to fade with time.

A safer chemical that has been proven to be effective against Coronavirus is Isopropyl Alcohol. This is according to the CDC. Cleaners with at least 70% Alcohol can be used to clean almost every surface of your vehicle’s interior. According to Consumer Reports, Jeff Stout confirmed this. He is the Director of Global Innovation at Yanfeng Automotive Interior. He states that even new parts are wiped down with Isopropyl Alcohol before they are packed and shipped.

Is there any other way to disinfect besides Chemicals?

One of the best ways to disinfect is by Steam Cleaning. This is confirmed by various sources. Including the UK Government. Reputable Detailing Shops have been steam cleaning interiors for many years. Using a steam cleaner has been found to be very effective in killing viruses, bacteria, dust mites, and germs. Steam cleaning is used in advanced detailing to sanitize interiors.

A Detailer Steam Cleaning the interior of a car

What’s the safest way to use a cleaning product to clean your vehicle?

San Antonio Auto Detailing, LLC has done a lot of research on this subject since the Ebola Outbreak in 2014. We were concerned about how we could detail our customer’s vehicles without causing any damage. We tested products on several types of materials including Vinyl, Leather, and Plastics. We also chose different colors to see what impact these cleaners had on them in the long run. We found that Alcohol was the least damaging but could cause damage if left on the surface for too long.
After various testing, we found that the least damage was done when the material had been cleaned and protected first. For example, leather seats that are cleaned and protected with Leather Conditioner were least affected. So we decided that was the best way for us to take care of our customer’s cars.

Combining Safe Products with Steam Cleaning

We decided to combine the effectiveness of Isopropyl Alcohol and Steam Cleaning. We provide this service with our Extreme Disinfecting add-on. We first clean the interior with safe to use cleaning products. We then use a steam cleaner on all surfaces to disinfect. We follow that up by adding a layer of quality protection depending on the material. Once it dries, we use Isopropyl Alcohol to do a final wipe down of all surfaces.

Are there any other tips when it comes to disinfecting a car’s interior?

It is also very important to use brand new towels and gloves when cleaning your car. We also recommend using a pair of new gloves and a brand new towel on every step of the process. So once you have cleaned the vehicle with a cleaner, throw away the towel and gloves. Use a new towel and gloves when applying the protectant. Finally, use a new towel and gloves when wiping down the interior with a safe disinfectant.

If you have any questions about how to disinfect your car’s interior without causing damage, contact us today.

Written by: Miguel Martinez


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