As the stay-at-home orders are being lifted, people are returning to work and resuming a semi-normal lifestyle. We are going back to the stores to get groceries, going to our doctor’s appointment, or taking our children for some family fun time outdoors. Most of these activities involve driving in a car, so what can we do to reduce the risk of getting sick while we travel?
Let’s Start With A Vacuum
If invisible germs are the culprit for getting us sick, why do we need to vacuum up dusts and other particles in our car? The answer is simple; it not only makes our car look much more appealing, but also removes the objects that germs tend to thrive on (such as snack crumbs), which will make our next step of disinfecting the car much easier. Cleaning up heavy debris in our car will also expose the area underneath it, so that the disinfectant can reach the area we want to sanitize.
There are many types of vacuum cleaners to choose from. The most economical choice is perhaps a portable handheld car vacuum. However, if you already have a heavy-duty shop vacuum, or are willing to invest in one, that will do a much better job at removing debris in hard-to-reach areas, such as under the seat. Once the debris is all cleared, we can move on to the next step.
Disinfect High-Touched Surfaces
High-touched surfaces? Meaning steering wheel, gear shift and door handles right? Well, only partially. There are quite a few other places that we touch often in our car without noticing, including seat belt, radio knobs, glove box, cup holder, air vent, turn signal controls etc. Now that we have an idea of what needs to be sanitized, how do we go about doing it?
The interior of the car is made of a variety of materials: fabrics, leather, plastics and in some cases wood. While bleach and alcohol-based sanitizers are perfect for killing viruses, they are also very harsh on the materials. Theses chemicals could be used in an emergency situation. However, using them as a long-term solution is not recommended. So, what should we do?
- Soap and Water
Yes, you heard it right. In fact, the CDC has repeatedly stressed the importance of using soap and water to combat COVID. “Clean surfaces using soap and water, then use disinfectant.” – that is a direct quote from the CDC. Hand soap is mild enough to be used on our hands multiple times a day, so it stands to reason that it is safe to use on our car. First, soak the towel or washcloth in soapy water. Then, make sure to wring out the excess soapy water before we start wiping things down. The last thing we want is to have water drip onto the floor mat and cause more bacteria and mold to grow in our car.
- Disinfect with UV Light or Steam Cleaner
Soapy water will remove a certain number of germs on the surface. However, if you would like to take it a step further, you could go with either an ultraviolet light sanitizing device or a steam cleaner. Both do a good job at destroying viruses and are safe to use inside the car. Some prefer a UV wand because it is quick, portable and less expensive; others prefer a steam cleaner because it can also remove grimes that have built-up at the bottom of the cup holder, or on the radio knobs, or the stain and smell on the floor mat when you accidentally spill your drink.
In-Car Air Purifier With UV Light
After we have spent all that time cleaning and sterilizing our car, what can we do to keep it clean? In-car air purifier has been used for decades to keep the air inside the car fresh. With the advent of the latest pandemic, a new type of air purifier has surfaced – UVC air purifier. UVC light is scientifically proven to kill viruses and bacteria and has been used since the 19th century in hospitals to tackle airborne disease. Nowadays, UV technology is being incorporated into a variety of consumer accessible products that are relatively small in size and affordable. The UV air purifier is an upgrade to the traditional filter air purifier, adding the ability to eliminate airborne pathogens.
Although there is no solution that can guarantee we are safe from COVID as of yet, wearing masks in public, taking care of our personal hygiene, and keeping our home, our car sanitized will help reduce the chance of us getting the coronavirus significantly. These preventative measures may not kill the coronavirus itself, but they can eliminate many other disease-causing bacteria and viruses, so that our immune system will not be comprised because of other illness. The CDC has stated that “having a weakened immune system may increase your risk of severe illness from COVID-19”. Therefore, it is important to keep our living environment hygienic.