Covid-19 has stirred quite a havoc in our lives, and there isn’t much we can do except take precautions as carefully as possible.
One of the most exposed places is the interior of your car, especially if you have friends or colleagues getting in your vehicle often, and knowing how to disinfect it is crucial to our safety and well-being.
Most of the cars in Bangladesh are chauffeur driven and we can never make sure how protected they are when they go back to their homes; viruses can easily be spread through a slight cough or sneeze on the steering wheel and seats. Many vehicles are also registered with various ride sharing organizations, making it more susceptible to contamination.
Cleaning your car in order to kill viruses can be a bit more complicated than you think, as chemicals can easily damage the plastic or even the leather of your vehicle’s interior, certainly over time. There is an abundance of surface cleaners available in the market; rather than going for well known brands, it is important to keep an eye out for the label on the container that provides information about the chemicals used in the disinfectant. Keep in mind these surface cleaners are meant to clean tougher surfaces, like the floor of your house. Avoid sprays and solutions that mention Sodium Hypochlorite as an active ingredient. Sodium Hypochlorite is commonly known as household bleach. Even though it can be very effective in killing germs and viruses, it might end up being too strong and damage the plastic dashboard and door panels, even at low concentration.
Many surface cleaners come with Benzalkonium Chloride as their active ingredient, although there haven’t been any specific tests done against the current Coronavirus, many lab studies show this ingredient to be more effective than the alcohol-based hand sanitizers we use. Benzalkonium Chloride solutions are the safest for your vehicle’s interior. The label on the container should provide more detailed information regarding the concentration of this chemical used. Once you are sure of the ingredients, make sure to read the instructions on how to use it, since application of the solution varies depending on the brand. It’s not always a case of just spray and wipe, many solutions require to let it sit for 10 to 40 seconds in order to kill viruses.
In order to make cleaning the interior less daunting, there are a few crucial spots that need to be taken care of more than the others. Make sure to start off with the key -- it’s the first thing you come in contact with, even though it is not a part of the car. Then, thoroughly spray the door-handles, and make sure to do the same for all the doors, specially the passenger ones which are more exposed to contamination. The steering wheel, gear lever, rear view mirror and the air-conditioner vents are naturally high touch areas and need to be thoroughly cleansed. The same procedure should also be used for the seat belts. Most cars nowadays are equipped with a touch screen monitor. It is safer not to use relatively harsh chemicals to clean the display screen as it might damage its touch response. For screens and displays, it is better to use hand sanitizers to wipe the surface using a soft cloth or tissue.
Since most schools and offices are closed and the government has imposed a lockdown, chances are your car will be sitting idle for a relatively long time. Make sure you regularly start the engine, at least once a week for about 10 minutes and turn the air-conditioner on while you are still in the car. This will not only keep the vehicle’s battery healthy, but also prevent the air passage from being clogged up. Once the situation gets better, changing the engine oil and air filter can be a wise thing to do as well.