While the official guidance for the general public in the UK is to stay home during the nationwide lockdown, exceptions are made for those making trips outside the house for essential purposes; food, medicine or for key workers, getting to and from work.
The Government guidance surrounding washing your hands acts as a preventative method for halting the spread of Coronavirus, however, it is important that we use these same sanitary principles for our personal devices, clothing and modes of transport.
The spreadable nature of the Coronavirus has encouraged a concerted effort to stop the spread, and that’s where we can help – follow our guidance on ensuring your car is clean, so you don’t bring the virus back to your household.
How long does Coronavirus last on surfaces?
There are currently very few studies that can effectively track how long Coronavirus can survive on certain surfaces – for this reason, many bodies have referred back to the SARS outbreak as a point of reference, as the two viruses are very similar in nature.
With this in mind, we take a look at how long the virus remains on certain surface types (According to Harvard Health and Business Insider), and see where we are likely to encounter these in your car:
|Material||Example(s) of these materials in your car||How long does it survive?|
|Copper||Unlikely to encounter.||Up to 4 hours.|
|Cardboard||Unlikely to encounter.||Up to 24 hours.|
|Wood||Unlikely to encounter||Up to 48 hours.|
|Cloth (Fabric)||Car seats, personal clothing, headrests.||Up to 48 hours.|
|Plastic(s)||Dashboard, interior car door handle, interior buttons, steering wheel, hand brake, air vents, infotainment/radio, ignition, car keys, glove compartment.||Up to 72 hours.|
|Stainless Steel||Exterior door handles, seatbelt buckle.||Up to 72 hours.|
|Glass||Car windows, interior mirrors.||Up to 102 hours.|
Step 1) Prepare with the proper equipment
This doesn’t mean you need to grab the super-detailing spray to make your dashboard look incredibly glossy, or scented fabric wipes to leave your car smelling marvellous. But for suspected cases, you will need to have access to Personal Protective Equiptment (PPE) according to official advice surrounding cleaning in a non-health care setting. We would advise to keep this same level of caution, even if you are unsure whether you have brought the virus into your vehicle.
You need the right tools for the job to keep yourself and others safe.
The basic guidance is to wear both an apron and either a disposable pair of gloves, or a pair of dishwashing gloves that you are happy to discard afterwards. Alongside this, pick up 2 bin bags and place one inside the other – keep the top open as wide as possible and an easy to reach location (you will need this later on).
Step 2) Use the right cleaning products
Once you’ve picked up the proper equipment for the job – and only when you have, then you can progress to start cleaning the interior of the car.
But what products should you use? Do you need specific car products to do the job, or can you use household products?
While you may be able to find specialised products for the interior of your car, it is much simpler to grab some household items that you are bound to have tucked away in a cupboard. For this stage you will need:
- Disposable cloth(s).
- Warm soapy water (Grab a few containers to hold the water).
- Household (Bleach-free) disinfectant (If you don’t have any, check out how to make your own)
These can be supplemented with a range of other cleaning products to enhance the shine of your interior, but the listed products are essential for helping remove traces of the virus from your cockpit.
Step 3) Lather, rinse, repeat?
Let’s start with all those areas identified in the table above, which are typically high contact areas for every single driver. The likelihood of the virus on these interior and exterior surfaces should be far greater than any other area of the car.
Start by cleaning hard surfaces with your warm soapy water – ‘[soap] loosens the “glue” between the virus [and the surface]’ according to the Guardian. When you are wiping these surfaces, you will need to scrub hard, build up some bubbles and continue to go over the same spots once or twice to really decrease the chances of the virus bonding to these areas.
If your water gets cold, runs out, or loses its soapiness, then go back inside and fill up another container full of warm soapy water (we would definitely recommend using a different disposable container to avoid bringing the virus into your house).
Continue this until you are satisfied that all the high-traffic hard surface areas are well-scrubbed.
Once you have reached this point, carefully pour the remaining soapy water down an outside drain and put the empty containers and your disposable cloth into your (open) bin bags. If possible, also replace your PPE, especially your gloves which are in close contact with the cleaning equipment.
Step 4) To disinfect or not to disinfect?
There really is not much of a question – disinfectant does what it says on the tin.
Disinfectants are primarily used to kill infectious organisms, which make them the best thing to use to remove any trace of Coronavirus from the interior of your car.
Liberally apply your disinfectant liquid onto a damp cloth and rub into every single nook and cranny that you often touch whilst driving.
Alternatively, if you have wipes, you can skip the first section and start wiping down the surfaces without adding more liquid.
Frequently replace your wipes and use different cloths (if possible) to clean the interior of your car. If you notice that the cloth/wipe starts to begin drying out, then it’s time to top up the disinfectant.
Step 5) Dispose of your equipment safely
The Government guidance for these PPE items is: ‘[they] should be double-bagged, then stored securely for 72 hours then thrown away in the regular rubbish after cleaning is finished’. This should be echoed for all the products you have used to clean the interior of your vehicle – do not risk spreading infection by not following the guidance of the Government.
So grab all the cloths, wipes, and PPE – stick them all in the same bin bag and follow the above guidelines.
It is also advisable to remove any item of clothing used to clean your car, and carefully place them in your washing machine as soon as you go inside – put them on a high-temperature wash.
The NHS advises that if items of clothing ‘are likely to cause illness (high risk), they should be washed a 60c with a bleached-based product’, and handled with disposable gloves if you deem the items to be ‘high risk’.
Step 6) Wash your hands
This step is amongst the most important – although you have been using PPE, it is best practice to make sure that you minimise your chances of spreading the virus to other members of your household, so grab some soap and wash your hands in water for at least 20 seconds.
Please try to make sure that you do not touch any door handles, light switches, or anything else you may come across on your trip to the bathroom – if you do, then we would advise that you head back to these contact points and clean them over with a household antibacterial cleaner/wipe.
Step 7) Let it dry!
Before you hop back in your car, let the interior dry out.
Disinfectants can be very harsh on your skin and therefore we would recommend waiting until all surfaces are fully-dry before getting behind the wheel.
If you have to drive before this period, for an essential purpose, then it might be recommended to wear gloves or to dry the steering wheel, and gear stick to avoid slippery surfaces.
Step 8) Stock up on cleaning items in your car
To ensure that that your car remains clean and a sterile environment for any type of virus, we need to make sure that you get into a cleaning routine.
If you are one of those lucky enough to still have a bottle of hand-sanitizer, stick it in an easy-to-reach area of your car. This should be your first point of call when you jump behind the wheel – before touching your seat belt or radio, sanitize your hands properly.
If you don’t have hand sanitiser, check here how to make your own sanitiser.
We would also recommend placing some antibacterial or disinfectant wipes inside your car so you can wipe down your keys and the exterior door handle as soon as you get to your car. This will further help you stop the spread of the virus into the cockpit of your car.
Adding these cleaning accessories to the inside of your car will aid in the fight to halt the spread of Coronavirus to not only yourself but anyone else you may meet.