While it’s only a matter of time before things start to have a semblance of normalcy, the COVID-19 pandemic will probably change the way we live forever. The public use of masks by people who feel sick will likely become a more-or-less accepted practice in other global cities much as they have been in East Asia for decades. We can also assume that people will be much warier of what they touch in public and that the use of anti-microbial hand protectors such as Ghluvs will become commonplace in the service industry, especially in roles where workers are expected to touch surfaces that may have come into contact with larger numbers of people.
Public transport and ride-sharing services, in particular, may never be the same after the pandemic. While shared cars have not been specifically identified as a major vector for the coronavirus and other similarly dangerous microorganisms, we can make the reasonable assumption that, as with subway trains and airplanes, the closed confines of a car provide an elevated risk for the occupants.
Can Your Car Host Coronavirus?
We can make a very reasonable assumption that coronaviruses, including the one that causes COVID-19, can be present in cars that have been used by an infected occupant. The coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic has been found by researchers to last up to seven days on stainless steel and plastic, and up to four days on glass and two days on fabric. All these materials are commonplace in cars, which makes it safe to assume that cars can indeed be a vector for COVID-19.
Tips for Keeping Your Car Safe from the Coronavirus
If you’re interested in reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19 and other diseases from contaminated surfaces in your car, here are some things you should try:
1.) Use Antimicrobial Barriers for your Hands
If you have to drive a car from someone who may have had a risk of infection, consider investing in a reusable anti-microbial hand protector like the Ghluv or disposable latex gloves before attempting to clean the car.
Strictly speaking, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is not airborne in that it can freely travel in the air. It relies on biological particles, mostly in the form of moisture droplets, from our breath to transfer from person to person. In spaces with “dead air” such as a car with the air-conditioner off, the droplets tend to drop out of the air very rapidly and stick to different surfaces. We can easily get infected if we touch these surfaces and inadvertently touch our eyes and mouth. For this reason, using hand barriers, preferably ones that can actively destroy viruses, can be a helpful precaution.
2.) Use Disinfectant Wipes on Frequently Touched Surfaces
While a hand barrier that can actively destroy surface pathogens can be more convenient, you can also use disinfectant wipes to destroy the coronavirus on surfaces in your car that are most likely to be touched. Pay special attention to the following surfaces:
- Steering wheel
- Door handles (interior and exterior)
- Switches and buttons
- Rear-view and side mirrors
3.) Soap and Water Is Enough for Most Surfaces
While disinfectant wipes are convenient when you’re outside, soap and water can be just as effective if you’re at home. Thankfully, there’s no need for bleach or any harsh cleansers that could damage surfaces in your car.
4.) Switch Out Your Air Filters
Using a fresh HEPA filter can help block the biological particles that carry the coronavirus from spreading inside your car’s cabin. A new filter will also help prevent other contaminants such as air pollution and allergens from circulating in the cabin as well.
5.) Make Sure Your Passengers Wear Masks
Ideally, you should attempt to limit the number of people who use your car during a pandemic. However, if you have to bring people along, they should be made to wear face masks to limit the moisture droplets from their exhalation from potentially contaminating your car. However, make sure to disinfect your car as soon as you can afterward.
6.) Remove and Clean Fabric Seat Covers
While the coronavirus isn’t able to survive as long on fabric as it does on plastic and glass, fabrics are a bit more difficult to clean thoroughly with just disinfectant wipes. Using less porous seat covers or leaving seats in bare leather or vinyl will potentially make them simpler to sanitize.
7.) Check Out Car Disinfection and Sanitation Services in Your Area
If you want your car to be thoroughly sanitized for the coronavirus, you can try searching for local services that offer disinfection services. While not every city will have these services available, most major cities will, and it’s worth a shot for your peace of mind.
While the best way to combat the spread of the coronavirus is to stay at home, not everyone has the luxury to be able to do this. Most of us will need to go out occasionally for supplies or to provide essential services. Because we increase our vulnerability to infection when we do go out, it’s important to keep our cars as sanitized as best we can. This can help reduce the risk of infection when we leave our homes.
Stay informed, healthy, and safe!