Coronavirus tips: What car cleaner you should, shouldn't use when disinfecting your vehicle

We'd all like to think we're safe from COVID-19 when we're inside our own vehicles, but disinfecting your car isn't the same as disinfecting your kitchen counters.

ABc7 Chicago I-Team Consumer Reporter Samantha Chatman shares some tips on what you can safely use to keep your car clean.

Washing your hands and sanitizing surfaces are important in the fight against the coronavirus, but one area you might have overlooked is your car. Consumer Reports says disinfecting your ride goes far beyond the steering wheel.

"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," said Consumer Reports Automotive Editor Jon Linkov.

Linkov said 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. Those products could easily do damage to your car's upholstery," he said.

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.

"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," Linkov said.

If you are running low on cleaning supplies, Linkov said soap and water are also a safe bet for most surfaces. He added that 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," Linkov said. "Wipe down leather gently with a microfiber cloth -- rubbing too vigorously could start to remove the color from the dye in the leather."

Also remember that when you're wiping down fabric upholstery, you should avoid using too much water as it could end up creating a musty smell or encouraging mold growth in the cushions.

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.
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