Understanding the difference between sanitising and disinfecting your car's interior

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Cleaning a car's interior
Cleaning a car's interior

• With Alert Level 4 imposed, South Africans are warn not to take Covid-19 lightly.

• Vehicle owners are encouraged to take the necessary caution to keep their cars clean and safe.

• The below tips highlight which products could be best to use.

For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24

With the country having moved to Alert Level 4, South Africans are once again made more aware that Covid-19 is still a reality in our daily lives. More people are diagnosed with the virus every day, and the infection rate is on a sharp incline. The third wave is well and truly hitting hard and, in many instances, very close to home.

However, just because we are caught in this virus's grip, our lives can't stand still and do we need to hit the road for the basic essentials. For this to happen, we have to use various modes of transport, including our own vehicles. And even these have to be cleaned and properly maintained to curb the spread of the virus.

While the sun's ultraviolet rays can kill the virus, vehicle owners still need to do their part to ensure their and their passengers' safety.

Cleaning a car's roof

Understanding the differences

Did you know that there is a difference between cleaning, sanitising, and disinfecting your car? According to guidelines shared by SupaQuick, we often get these confused, and it can lead to the virus not being completely removed from a surface.

Cleaning: Removes visible dirt, debris, and dust with soap/detergents and water but does not necessarily kill them. It reduces the risk of spreading infection.

Sanitising: Reduces germs, bacteria, fungi, and viruses which helps lower the spread of infection.

Disinfecting: Uses chemicals and disinfecting agents to kill germs, bacteria, and viruses.

When going about any of these three processes, it is recommended that a microfibre or a soft clean cloth is used. It will prevent the surfaces from getting damaged or scratched. It is also recommended that a non-corrosive, pH-neutral soap is used to treat your vehicle's surfaces. If one is to disinfect surfaces, isopropyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol (70%) can be used. Automakers sometimes share their recommended cleaning solutions in a car's manual, acting as a guide for owners.

To read the original guides by SupaQuick, click here.

Steer clear

While we may sometimes act hastily to clean a surface with any suitable product we can find, it might not always be the best option. As such, these products should be avoided:

Bleach: If you do decide to use it, dilute to a very weak solution in a spray bottle and wipe with a damp cloth. Do not mix with any other cleaning products.

Ammonia: Any ammonia-based product can damage vinyl and plastic.

Hydrogen peroxide: Can damage vinyl and plastic.

Acetone, chlorine, all solvents, and all the above damage your car's paintwork and interior materials.

Cleaning a car's seats

Focus on these spots when disinfecting or santising your car


1. Steering wheel

2. Gear shift

3. Hand brake

4. Turn indicator levers

5. Light switches

6. Dashboard

7. Door handles

8. All knobs and buttons

9. Cup holders

10. All touchscreens

11. Key and remote control fob

12. Ignition

13. Cup holders

14. Seat belts and buckles

15. Seats

16. Glove compartment handle

17. Rearview mirror


1. Door handles

2. Boot handle

3. Fuel cap

Lexus UX 250h interior
2022 Lexus UX 250h interior
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