Vehicle cleaning & disinfecting guidance for COVID-19

From the U.S. General Services Administration (gsa.gov):

A question frequently asked is how to appropriately clean vehicles. The response below is a summary of information gathered from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), Consumer Reports, and Original Equipment Manufacturers.

We encourage all drivers to take additional precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19. The CDC and the WHO emphasize how important it is to frequently wash one’s hands and to regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in order to prevent COVID-19 spread. We recognize that vehicles represent a special challenge as they are most often used as shared resources. As with all other surfaces you come into contact with, it is impossible to be positive that COVID19 is not present and the potential for COVID19 exposure exists after each use.

Therefore, we believe it is in your best interest to frequently clean the vehicles you are using; especially after the vehicle has left your custody for use by others, for oil changes, for maintenance activities or other events.

What to Do:

  • Sanitize frequently touched vehicle surfaces on a regular basis.
  • Be mindful of the cleaning / disinfecting agents used on vehicles to avoid inadvertently damaging the interior or exterior.
    • Many of the same household cleaners (such as non-bleach, unscented, non-chlorinated disinfectant cleaners and wipes) that kill coronaviruses on hard surfaces at home can also clean most car interiors without causing damage.
    • Alcohol solutions that contain at least 70 percent alcohol are effective against coronavirus, according to the CDC. Nearly every interior surface of a vehicle can be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol.
    • Vigorous washing with soap and water can also destroy a coronavirus. Soap and water are safe for most car interiors. Be careful not to saturate the surfaces.
  • Consult the cleaning directions provided in the Vehicle Owners’ Manual.
  • Follow the cleaning agent manufacturer’s product label guidance for the recommended disinfecting procedure, as guidance varies by cleaning product. Read all instructions and precautions of the materials being utilized and follow all safety recommendations when utilizing cleaning products to ensure personal safety.
  • When using wipes, remove excess liquid before wiping surfaces, especially electrical components and touch screens.
  • Test selected cleaning agent in an inconspicuous location. 

What to Avoid:

  • Don’t use bleach or hydrogen peroxide on the inside of your car.
  • Don’t use scented wipes or wipes containing bleach.
  • Don’t use ammonia-based cleaners on car touch screens or dashboards, as they can damage anti-glare and anti-fingerprint coatings.
  •  Never combine cleaning chemicals as doing so may lead to toxicity.

Sample Vehicle High Touch Areas:

  • Car keys and fobs
  • Door handles, door latches and lock buttons
  • Steering wheel
  • Shift lever
  • Any buttons or touch screens (radios, mirror adjusters, climate controls, etc)
  • Wiper and turn signal stalks
  • Center console and cup holders
  • Driver and passenger armrests and seat belts, grab handles, and seat adjusters
  • Headrests and seat pockets

Other Suggestions:

  • Wash your hands before and after driving.
  • Wear gloves when possible outside of your vehicle, especially when fueling. Pumps, keypads and other surfaces are frequently touched and may not have been sanitized.
  • When possible use contactless payment methods to avoid touching keypads or pens.
  • Consider using your knuckles rather than fingertips to touch common use contact areas.
  • Compared to fingertips, knuckles will generally have less contact with other things throughout the day.
  • When finished driving the vehicle for the day, thoroughly wipe down the vehicle with disinfectant wipes or other appropriate cleaning solutions.

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