The problem with attempting to protect yourself from the coronavirus is there are no guarantees, but the same can be said about the risks involved with driving or riding in a car. The best thing you can do is stay home and not share vehicles. But if you must share a car, share rides, drive a rental or loaner car, or have your car serviced, you can improve your chances by using the right cleaning products in the right places while minimizing the chance of damage to the vehicle’s materials. Unfortunately, what method and materials you use might depend primarily on what you can get your hands on.
Related: Coronavirus and Car Buying: What You Should Know
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the primary means of transmission is between people in close contact (within 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets from an infected person coughing or sneezing. “It is possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes,” the CDC site says, but “touching surfaces is not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads.”
This alone tells us that the odds are in our favor if we take appropriate steps.
The Most Effective Treatment
Fortunately, an effective weapon to disinfect against the coronavirus, according to the CDC, is alcohol. I say fortunately because most other chemicals, including some that are cited on the CDC’s ominous List N page as being effective against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), are either too harsh for a car’s interior surfaces, too toxic to use inside a car’s cabin or both. Agents like bleach, hydrogen peroxide and ammonia aren’t suitable for interior use — unless you don’t care about potential damage and are willing to let the car air out for hours or even days. Technically, alcohol vapors shouldn’t be inhaled either, but they tend to dissipate quickly, and if you keep the windows open while applying it, the risk should be minimal and short-lived.