How to Keep Your Car Safe From the Corona virus COVID-19

Effective Car Interior Cleaning Methods

One realisation I’ve had, is that it’s the combined use of different tools, products and methods to be effective and to be sure that you have properly cleaned and achieved sterilization.

All this however is a best effort scenario. I dont believe it to be righteous whatsoever that anyone can guarantee a 100% disinfection or containment. For example your car interior is compromised the moment the door is opened let alone when someone gets in.

Keeping your car clean is going to be the best and most practical preventative measure.

Qiyaam Adams, owner operator of Protouch Car Care

Further Reading: United States Centers Disease Control: Cleaning and Disinfection

#1 Cleaning products and methods

An All Purpose Cleaner is the soap equivalent for cars.

As of the 20 March 2020 I’ve included the use of a cleaner in my own services which contains a BIOCIDE for all hard surfaces such as the steering wheel, dashboard, console and other high contact areas.

It is however important to distinguish what is compatible with the various materials used in a vehicles interior. Isopropyl Alcohol or Ammonia is great at killing virus, bacteria and germs but may not be suitable for all vehicle surfaces. These may damage certain vehicles interior like leather, suede, alcantara and rubber coated controls and seals.

Proper working times is needed to not only clean properly but to break down organisms.

It should also be used on soft surfaces i.e. fabric and carpets either by itself or before using steam.

#2 Steam Cleaning

True hot steam vapour is a proven method for cleaning and sterilizing i.e. killing virus, bacteria and other organisms.

Please Read: United States Center Disease Control Guidelines for using Steam to disinfect and sterilize.

The problem with Steam is how people use it!

Just “blowing steam” on to a surface is not effective for sterilizing as it will take a long time to heat up even a tiny area. ( It may clean well but not sterilize!)

You need to consider your steam cleaners temperature and pressure specification of your steamer. The higher it is, the faster it will clean i.e. getting your surface to temperature.

The material the surface you want to clean is made of, also influences the time it will take to sterilize. Think of pouring hot water in a cold cup. The hot water loses temperature as the cup absorbs it until they equal.

A jet of steam vapour

I’ve embedded a video here about a study on steam and its effectiveness in killing the Corona Virus COVID-19.

It’s about steam treatment on humans, which i dont think is a good idea, but whats of note is that they state that the SARS COVID virus is killed at 58 degrees celsius over a contact time of 15 minutes!

58 degrees celsius for 15 minutes will kill the Corona Virus COVID-19

I currently use steam only on car interior soft surfaces, such as fabrics, leather, vinyl and carpeting, they are all low risk in terms of virus spread but not for bacteria. While it can be used on your vehicle interior hard surfaces, which is typically high contact and risk areas, the proximity to electronics is the problem.

It’s suggested on detailing forums that raising the fabric and carpet surfaces to clean to 70 degrees celsius will kill the Corona Virus COVID-19. No mention of how much contact time.

I suggest pre treating with an All Purpose Cleaner with or without a BIOCIDE, scrub it up and then use your steamers supplied brush accessory to steam clean the surface. It should allow you to clamp / hold / tie a microfibre cloth to and use that to clean with. It spreads, holds and transfers heat far better than using the steam jet function or using a steam extraction method. High end steamers has hot water and chemical injection and will be advantageous.

After you have steamed, extract with a good vacuum and ensure your car dries thoroughly before putting back your floor mats. If your car needs to dry overnight, leave the window slightly open. Remember that dark and damp is contributors to mould!

WARNING!: Wet Extraction is Not Steam cleaning!

Wet extraction (aka Wet Vac) is when you use a vacuum cleaner with a spray facility.

The spray can be either hot or cold cleaning solution that is sprayed and simultaneous vacuumed up.

The confusion “arises” when “steam” comes up from the piece you are cleaning because a hot solution was used.

#3 Ozone Treatment

I’ve been using Ozone since 2012 to successfully remove bad smell which is typically caused by bacteria present on decaying matter as well as gases i.e. cigarette phenols without the need for chemical.

Technically Ozone should kill the Corona Virus COVID-19 but there is no reports that substantiates such a claim. There is mention of Ozone being tested and effective for the previous SARS virus which is relative to the Corona Virus COVID-19 but i havent found the source in order to reliably refer to it.

You car interior needs to be clean before you run Ozone.

Click here to read more about Ozone

Ozone kills airborne and surface bacteria, germs and virus like Corona using UV-C and static charging

#4 Prevention

Wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment is defenitely a need when cleaning a car. As you brush things splatter and if you use steam or air, it blows up dirt into the air.

PS: We spray product on to our brushes and into our microfibre never onto the surface unless its a foam.

We use:

  • Respirator masks,
  • Heavy duty gloves,
  • Eye-wear
  • PVC sleeves to protect their arms
  • Aprons

Protecting ourselves is protecting you

#5 Sterilization of tools etc

Disinfect and clean tools and brushes before starting each job. If you only a one or a few clothes, then clean it before starting another area of the car to prevent cross contamination.

After you have completed soak your clothes in a disinfectant, rinse out well and make sure they dry properly!

I even sterilize your keys before we give it back to you!

#6 The Devil is in the Detail

Thoroughness is the most important characteristic of detail and also combating the Corona Virus COVID-19.

Detail, or even just using the word thorough, means to take time and effort, like removing seats or disassembling your cars interior if needs be.

#7 Protection

There are protection coatings available on the market that can protect you and your vehicle’s interior surfaces from things like virus, bacteria and other microorganisms.

Please keep in mind that this does not mean you dont need to clean and you will never get infected or your car will never get dirty. It should be considered supplemental.


With the Corona Virus COVID-19 pandemic we are all now more acutely aware and vigilant about our hygiene and environments.

Knowledge, understanding and communication is always going to be the first and best defense.

From my side, I’m committed to actioning any new anti virus and hygiene measures that comes up. As that happens I will include it as my Standard Operating Procedure moving on.

I encourage you to raise any concerns or suggestions that you may have with me so I can improve our service!

If you require your vehicle to be cleaned to the highest degree dont hesitate to contact us!

If you have found this information useful please leave a review on facebook, instagram or google. @ProtouchCarCare

Please be safe!

May God protect us and grant us his guidance.

Qiyaam Adams

Owner / Operator of Protouch Car Care

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