At Baxter Toyota Lincoln, we fully understand the concerns our customers have about exposure to COVID-19, or coronavirus. Many community members in Lincoln, Nebraska, are wearing gloves, using hand sanitizer and disinfecting items they purchase. What's easy to overlook, however, is that once you purchase these items and load them into your car, they are then touching the interior of your vehicle. According to the World Health Organization, studies suggest that the coronavirus may live on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. That means that you should be sanitizing the interior of your car to kill any germs it may have collected on your last visit to the grocery store or pharmacy.
How Long Does Coronavirus Survive on Surfaces?
One of the more difficult challenges in disinfecting your vehicle is that its interior often contains various surfaces. From soft leather and smooth cloth seats to the plastic on the dash, several tools may be required to fully clean your car. According to the National Institutes of Health, the virus that causes COVID-19 is stable for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic or stainless steel. Another study suggests that similar viruses can live on "inanimate surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for up to nine days."
What's the Best Way to Sanitize My Car's Interior?
Ready to begin sanitizing your vehicle? Start by washing your hands and putting on disposable gloves if you have them. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work well for sanitizing your vehicle. Just be sure to read the product's label to make sure it's safe for the surface you're planning to use it on. And we advise to keep disinfectant wipes and a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your car so you can wipe down high-touch areas frequently.
How to Clean Leather Seats in My Car
Before you apply any type of leather cleaner, make sure to test it on a hidden area to ensure it will work well for your specific seats. Avoid scratching the leather while cleaning by using a microfiber cloth, and once complete, apply a leather conditioner if you have any on hand. And if you don’t have any leather cleaner in the house, you can simply mix two parts vinegar with one part water to create your own solution.
How to Disinfect Surfaces in My Car
The most important areas of your Toyota to keep clean are the dashboard and the steering wheel. Bacteria tends to collect in these spots, as air is cycled throughout the vehicle. To clean your dash, simply use soap and water. Dish soap and warm water will work well, so start by dampening the surface, then scrub for 20-to-30 seconds. Be sure to focus on areas you touch frequently, such as your dash and your steering wheel. Additionally, you'll want to use a disinfecting product on other surfaces in your car, including:
- Door Handles
- Door Buttons
- Key Fob
- Steering Wheel
- Inside Door Buttons
- Seat Belts
- Gear Shifters
- Buttons on the Dash
- Buttons for Lights
- Buttons for Windshield Wipers
- Glove Compartment
Do I Need to Disinfect My Car's Exterior?
Germs are less likely to thrive on the outside of your vehicle thanks to the sun and additional weather factors. However, we still recommend disinfecting high-touch surfaces, like the door handles, handle buttons or gas cap.
Are There Disinfectants I Should Avoid Using in My Car?
If you want to avoid damaging your Toyota interior, don't use bleach or hydrogen peroxide to disinfect. These can damage the vinyl and plastics in your cabin. You should also avoid any ammonia-based cleaning products used to clean glass, as they can break down the vinyl on the dashboard. Heat and light may then cause your dashboard to become sticky.