Disinfect Every Surface of Your Car's Interior


In this article, you will learn:

  • A reasonable way to think about disinfecting your surroundings, including the interior of your car

  • Why your car is particularly vulnerable to spreading bacteria and viruses

  • The simplest way to disinfect car interiors

Let’s set one thing straight right off the bat: From a scientific perspective, disinfecting your entire car interior isn’t really a reasonable goal, but we hear this question a lot, so we want to help answer it. Think about it this way: every person carries millions of bacterial and viral organisms on and inside their body at all times. So, if your goal was to disinfect your car interior and you managed to do it for a split-second, your presence in the car as you clean would still transfer more germs back into the car. Or when you turn on your heat or air conditioner, you’d transfer germs into the cabin. Or when a passenger got in and let out their first breath, more germs. Or when you roll down the window…well, you get the picture. The point is it’s impossible to live in a disinfected world even if you’re spraying everything around you with isopropyl alcohol.

Disinfecting your car isn’t actually about how you clean the interior as a whole. More practically speaking, your goal should be to reduce you and your passengers’ exposure to pathogenic bacteria and viruses, the kind that can make you sick, by cleaning and disinfecting very specific interior surfaces.

The breeding ground

If you’re going into battle against these little bugs, it’s important to understand a few things about your enemy. For bacteria and viruses to grow, they need only three things: warmth, moisture and a food source. Whether you know it or not, your car interior often has all three of these conditions in place. For your personal comfort, your car is often at a warm temperature, and your air circulating system, located next to the engine compartment, can be particularly warm. Plus, your AC circulates some pretty humid air. That’s all the moisture these organisms need to thrive. And that air often times contains dust and carbon particles. Those carbon sources are delicious nutrition for hungry germs. Warmth, moisture, food…they’re all right there under your nose, even if you didn’t realize it.

In other words, no matter what you do to clean your car, you’ll always have germs, good and bad, somewhere in the interior. That’s why it’s all the more important to take care of them in a smarter way than simply trying to disinfect everything.

multipurpose cleaner & disinfectant (mp-24)

Let’s get real

When you stop worrying about sterilizing your entire car interior and start thinking about limiting your exposure to bad germs, the process isn’t that daunting. The real goal should be to disinfect the high-touch areas where your hands and fingers work as conduits for bacteria and viruses, including the steering wheel, door handles, seat belts and buckles, radio controls, shift levers, armrests, cupholders and any buttons or knobs you use to control the functions of your car. At these transfer points, germs can spread from others to you, and vice versa. You should disinfect these spots on a regular basis. The frequency depends on how you use your car. If you drive mostly alone, consider disinfecting all the high-touch areas once every two weeks. If you carpool or have a family, treat these surfaces on a weekly or even a daily basis. If you drive a ride share, you may want to spray down the touchpoints in your passenger area after each ride.

And, of course, another way to reduce your exposure to pathogens in your car is the good, old-fashioned practice of washing your hands frequently with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer. The fewer germs on your hands when you get into your car means the fewer you’ll leave behind when you touch various surfaces.

Pro Tip: Don’t use alcohol-based disinfectants or wipes on your car’s interior surfaces. The alcohol can dry and prematurely age the plastics in your car, potentially causing them to fade, crack or even break. Use a disinfectant spray that’s designed for plastics and automotive interiors. We recommend Turtle Wax Multipurpose Cleaner & Disinfectant with Byotrol Technology.

car’s interior surfaces

Hit those touch high-touch areas

Using your favorite automotive disinfectant and a microfiber cloth, spray and wipe all the areas you and your passengers touch regularly. Be sure to follow the instructions exactly as the product label describes, allowing the product to dwell for the specified times to kill bacteria and viruses. Once the dwell time has elapsed, wipe away any excess product with your microfiber cloth or, if the product leaves no streaks or residue, simply allow it to air dry.

We recommend using our Multipurpose Cleaner & Disinfectant to disinfect your car interior. It kills over 99.9% of germs. To clean your high-touch surfaces, simply spray it on any interior surface and wipe it off using a dedicated microfiber towel. To disinfect, allow it to dwell for the time specified on the label, then air dry. It’s safe for virtually all interior surfaces, including plastics, glass and leather upholstery. That’s all there is to it!

At Turtle Wax, we understand the last thing anybody wants is to get sick or, for that matter, to make anyone else sick. That’s why we developed our disinfectant spray in the first place, and that’s why we want to help you attack the root of the problem, at the locations where they can spread to others.

disinfect your car interior


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