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Consumer Reports: Killing coronavirus in the car

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Posted at 4:00 AM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 09:26:33-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - “Think about how many surfaces in your car get touched on an average trip: door handles inside and out, control knobs and buttons, the touchscreen, even your directional and wiper control stalks are touched virtually every time you drive your vehicle," says Consumer Reports Automotive Editor, Jon Linkov.

Linkov says since the interior of most cars are made up of a number of different materials, it’s important to use the right products, and techniques, to disinfect your vehicle properly.

“You definitely want to stay away from using bleach or hydrogen peroxide inside your car," says Linkov. "Those products could easily do damage to your car’s upholstery.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol solutions that contain at least 70% alcohol should be effective at killing coronavirus. This means nearly every interior surface of your car can be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol-based cleaners you already use around the house.

Consumer Reports recommends focusing on disinfecting these vehicle hot spots: your steering wheel, door handles inside and out, your car’s shifter, all window and control buttons, wiper and turn signal stalks, door armrests, any grab handles, and seat adjusters.

“And if your car has a touch screen, don’t use anything that has ammonia as an ingredient, since it can strip off anti-glare and anti-fingerprint coatings on the screen," says Linkov.

Low on cleaning supplies? Soap and water are also a safe bet for most surfaces. But no matter what you use, a gentle touch is recommended.

“The surfaces inside your car are usually going to be more delicate than something like the counter top in your kitchen, so take care in how you apply the cleaning products," says Linkov. "Wipe down leather gently with a microfiber cloth -- rubbing too vigorously could start to remove the color from the dye in the leather.”

And when wiping down fabric upholstery, avoid using too much water, it could end up creating a musty smell or encouraging mold growth in the cushions.

And outside of coronavirus concerns, Consumer Reports suggests always doing your best to drive with clean hands to keep the surfaces in your car from collecting dirt over time and looking prematurely worn out.