We don’t think too much about the germs that lurk in our car, but when you’re trying to keep safe from the novel coronavirus, it’s time to bust out the disinfectants.
However, some materials on the interior might not react well to harsh cleaning agents. But you can still get those surfaces nice and sanitized with a little forethought and a touch of TLC.
Consumer Reports chatted with car-interior manufacturers, detailers and even an infectious disease expert to come up with a plan to safely clean your car. The first thing to note: Most home cleaning products will be just fine for cleaning the interior’s hard surfaces.
Alcohol solutions of 70% alcohol work well to clean many surfaces in the car. Soap and water is a totally fine choice as well, including for your upholstery. As Car and Driver notes, ordinary soap and water will break down viruses just as effectively as anything else, and the same instructions for washing your hands hold true here, too: Scrub any surface you wish to clean for virus protection for a minimum of 20 seconds.
You do want to be careful not to overdo it with the bubbles on the upholstery, though.
“The goal is not to create too many suds,” said Larry Kosilla, president of car detailing company AMMO NYC, in Consumer Reports’ post. “If you get suds, you’ll have suds forever.”
He suggests a soft scrub using a mixture of water and a little laundry detergent.
Leather needs a soft touch, too. CR’s expert recommends using simple Ivory soap and water to clean. Kosilla adds that scrubbing gently is the best practice — get too vigorous and you’ll start taking the dye off the leather.
Another sensitive spot: screens. Don’t use a cleaner with ammonia on any screen displays on the dashboard, since it can damage their protective coating.
On that note, don’t use cleaning solutions with bleach or hydrogen peroxide anywhere on the interior — they’re just too harsh.
When in doubt, Car and Driver recommends the tried-and-true patch test. Use your cleaner in a hidden spot to see if it works without causing any trouble.
And don’t forget to give a wipe-down to door handles, buttons, turn-signal and windshield-wiper switches and the gearshift, too!
Finally, continue to follow the advice you’ve been hearing everywhere: Wash your hands. If you can, try to get your paws clean before you hit the road and definitely give them a good going-over after you arrive at your destination.
This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Checkout Simplemost for other great tips and ideas to make the most out of life.