The COVID-19 pandemic we are currently living through has been like no other pandemic we have encountered in our lives. It has impacted the entire global population, with countries enforcing precautionary measures to stop the spread of the virus, like nothing we have experienced before. 

One precautionary measure to stop the spread is to ensure that you properly clean and disinfect your hands at all times. At the same time, you make sure that other items you come into contact with daily are disinfected such as your car. This is even more important for a taxi, Uber, Lyft, and any other driver that has many people sitting in their car. The virus can sit on various surfaces of the car, you want to make sure that you and your riders are safe. 

Think of the virus like a cracked windshield. When you notice a crack, you get it fixed by windshield experts immediately. The longer you ignore it, the more dangerous it gets. The only difference with the virus is that your car is at risk of exposure to it every time it is out on the road. Which means you need to clean it often. 

The following guide will help ensure you keep your car disinfected, reducing the chances of exposure to the virus for yourself and others. 

Safety measures for cleaning

You want to take precautionary measures when you clean and disinfect your car in a similar way to healthcare workers that wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This way you are protected if exposed to the virus. Therefore, you must:

  • Wear disposable gloves that you can discard after cleaning your car. 
  • Wear a face mask that completely covers your nose and mouth. 
  • As soon as you take the gloves off, wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds. 

Use the right materials

The materials you use play a vital role in how effectively you disinfect your car. You need to understand, it is not just about cleaning, so you need to use materials that thoroughly remove dirt and germs. 

Clean the interior with cloth

You should always choose microfibre cloth over paper products for cleaning your car’s interior. Paper products appear to make the surface clean but all they do is pack the dirt and move them into the fabric and gaps. They are also not as tough on germs and grime, requiring more effort from your end. 

Microfibre cloth on the other hand is engineered to pick up dirt and germs. The cloth traps them ensuring you don’t just sweep them from one part of the car to another. 

Picking a cleaning product

Picking the right cleaning agent is tough because you want to make sure that you don’t end up harming the car’s upholstery and surfaces as you clean them. Alcohol is a known agent that kills germs, all sanitizers contain it. But at the same time, it dries up natural oils in leather. 

You can use common soap and liquid detergent to clean the interior of the car. For leather upholstery, use soapy water. But don’t scrub too hard as it may leave marks on the leather. After you disinfect the car, you can use protectants that are designed to condition and protect the surfaces and upholstery of the car. 

Touch points to clean

Before you disinfect the car, you need to clean it. You want to clean as much of the interior as you can because you never know when it comes to germs. Here are specific touch points in the car you want to make sure to cover:

  • Door handles: The external and internal door handles should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. After all, this is the first and last point of contact for passengers in the car. 
  • Front cabin: This includes all the elements that the driver and front passenger can touch or infect such as the steering wheel, gear lever, handbrake, infotainment screen, climate control, glove compartment, sun visor, and other switches and buttons. 
  • Seatbelts and clips: You may overlook these when cleaning but you shouldn’t since passengers touch both the seatbelt and its clips when putting it on for the ride. 
  • Rear passenger area: Any armrest, cup holder, USB socket area, and switches and buttons that may be present for passengers in the rear to touch. 
  • Floor area: Usually your feet are the only body part that comes in contact with the floor mats, but you should still clean them often. Vacuum the mats before you clean them with soapy water and leave them out in the sun to dry. 
  • Car keys: If you share your car with a partner or anyone else, make sure to clean the keys after each time they have used them. 

After you’ve cleaned these particular points in your car, you need to disinfect them. There are numerous chemicals you can use for disinfection such as bleach, ammonia, and hydrogen peroxide. But you run the risk of damaging the car’s upholstery and leather. If you have no choice but to opt for these, you should use a leather conditioner and protectant immediately after. So you get some protection from the chemical. 

It is better to use natural products such as tea tree oil, vodka, or vinegar to disinfect while also not completely damaging the upholstery.  

What you should do if your car comes in contact with an infected passenger

If you find out that one of your passengers was infected, the first thing you need to do is get tested yourself. If you are in the clear, the next thing you need to do is get your car cleaned and sanitized. But rather than doing it yourself, you need to get it professionally cleaned and detailed. 

Most detailing centers have products that comply with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in killing the virus and detailing your car without damage. Just be sure to inform them beforehand that the car was exposed to an infected person. 

Just as important as it is for you to wash your hands often, it is equally important to wash and disinfect your car to keep you safe and prevent the spread of the virus. Remember that cleaning doesn’t necessarily mean you disinfect it, so you will need to clean first then disinfect. You don’t have to go all out and buy expensive products to get the job down. Soapy water and a good disinfection agent works well. 

You don’t have to disinfect the whole car each time, target the touch points we have highlighted. Make sure to always keep sanitizer in your car so individuals entering and exit can use it, ensuring their hands are clean after they come in and exit the car. 


Tarek Salam is a Canadian auto glass repair technician with over a decade of experience repairing automotive glass for all makes and models of vehicles in Canada. He loves sharing interesting and useful information with the intention of educating and helping people make better automotive decisions.