We were never as paranoid about our personal hygiene and the cleanliness of everything from our houses to our vehicles as we are now. Surfaces in our homes are easy enough to clean, but what about our cars? We want our car interiors to be clean and virus-free, but we also don’t want to damage anything.

If not properly cleaned, your car could be a hotbed for viruses. This is especially true if your car frequently moves different people around; people unknowingly become vectors of bacteria and viruses. Taxi drivers, e-hailing drivers and owners of car rentals services should take extra special care during these times.

Always read the label first!

So, what can you do? The quick solution is to wipe down your car interior with sanitising wipes, zeroing in on all high-touch areas of your car such as the door handles, seat belts and seat belt buckles. You should also pay close attention to the steering wheel, as this could be the dirtiest part of your car.

On that note, please do it in moderation. Lathering your car’s interior with sanitisers is not a good idea as some cleaners can damage your upholstery.

It’s vital to note that bleach and hydrogen peroxide-based cleaners are highly effective at killing viruses — including the star of the year COVID-19 — but they could damage the upholstery. Besides that, ammonia-based cleaners are unsuitable for your car’s touch screens as it could damage the anti-glare and anti-fingerprint coating. It also breaks down the vinyl on your dashboard, making it sticky when exposed to heat and light.

According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol content can be used to kill viruses, but is it safe for your car’s interior? In a nutshell, yes. However, the urethane coating that protects the leather and faux leather upholstery can get damaged and discoloured when alcohol is used to clean them over time.

Simple soap-and-water works in a pinch as it is safe for most surfaces, but you should make sure not to scrub too hard, or you might damage the material. For leather or imitation leather, it would be best to finish with a leather conditioner to maintain its condition.

If you have fabric-upholstered seats, you should not use too much water as you might accidentally soak the cushions. When that happens, your interior will smell musty and could even encourage mould growth. The best way to clean fabric seats with soap and water is to lightly agitate the surface with a small amount of water and laundry detergent.

Other than the cleaning products, you must also take into account the type of cloth used for cleaning. A microfibre cloth is most recommended as it is gentle enough to not scratch delicate surfaces while being thorough enough to pick up dust and dirt.

Although these tips will not absolutely guarantee you won’t catch COVID-19, they will at the very least minimise your risk of contracting the virus. Furthermore, your clean car can also reduce the possibility of you infecting others through contact with your vehicle surfaces.

One last tip: remember to always wash your hands with soap and water both before and after the cleaning process. This is still the most effective way to combat COVID-19 and should be done vigilantly throughout the day.

For tips on maintaining your car during MCO, click here.