How to disinfect your vehicle without causing any damage during the Covid-19 pandemic


• Hotspots to clean in your car 

• Soap and water works best 

• Strong sanitisers can damage interior materials

We're in Level 3 of the Covid-19 global pandemic, and we're yet to reach peak numbers across South Africa. If you're as pedantic as my family and I, you're also spending a lot of your budget on good, pricey sanitisers, and disinfecting everything you or your loved ones might touch. 

If anyone ventures outside, clothes are stripped in the garage straight into the washing machine, groceries are disinfected, and fruits and vegetables are thoroughly washed - even the recyclable shopping bags. Yes, we're that extreme since my little one and I both have compromised immune systems.

It doesn't stop there, door handles, security gates, and especially the vehicle whenever we venture out for an essential run, or a drive for an ice cream now that there's a bit more freedom of movement in Level 3.

However, using strong sanitisers or disinfected wipes to clean your vehicle's interior is actually not a good idea at all.

mazda 3 interior

Image: Wheels24/Robin Classen

READ | Cleaning your car's interior with hand sanitisers during lockdown might not be such a good idea

According to George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO, soap and water (or dishwashing liquid and water) will do a great job to clean your car's interior. 

Mienie says: "Plastic, metal or faux metal surfaces shouldn't be damaged by soap and water. Assuming you wipe gently, leather will also respond well.

"The steering wheel needs a very good clean, as do other areas that are used regularly – climate and audio controls, infotainment systems, window controls and the like. When working on areas containing electronics, disinfecting wipes are better than soap and water. Ensure that the wipes don't contain bleach.

"Beware, hand sanitisers contain alcohol, which can damage the interior, for instance, they can dry out leather and possibly (if used repeatedly) cause plastics to crack."

Nissan South Africa has provided some tips on how to clean your vehicle without causing any damage to your vehicle's interior equipment and materials. 

The automaker says: "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 before 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."

car cleaning tips

car cleaning tips

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