Why your car could be a petri dish for coronavirus and how to clean it safely

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been cleaning your house from top to bottom for weeks now to try to keep everyone in the family healthy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

In fact, every two days, I walk through every room in our home with bleach wipes at the ready and disinfect the things we touch most. From light switches and doorknobs to remotes and laptops, everything gets a good wipe down.

But, there was something I was missing… completely!

In the over three weeks our community has been on lockdown, I hadn’t disinfected our car even once.

Yep, despite the fact that either my husband or I have to go out to get either groceries or take-out food a minimum of once a week, risking possible exposure to the virus, I never thought of cleaning the things we had come in contact with first.

And, the coronavirus that could be lurking on our seats, car door handles, steering wheel, seatbelt latches, radio knobs, and more, could easily be transferred into our house at any time, or worse, directly into our bodies if we slipped up and touched our faces after contact.

What does this all come down to?

It’s just as important to clean the coronavirus petri dish that is your car as it is to clean your home.

Here’s exactly what you should clean, which cleaners to use, and how to do it without destroying your vehicle’s interior.

Your vehicle cleaning list

Basically, the same way you look at disinfecting your home during the age of coronavirus is the same way to figure out what in your car needs to be cleaned (with a few extras thrown in).

Your vehicle cleaning list includes all the surfaces you touch regularly, like:

  • Door handles (inside and out)
  • The center console
  • Turn signals
  • Air Vents and air conditioner/heater controls
  • Radio buttons/knobs
  • The buttons to control your windows and lock your doors
  • Seat belts, including latches
  • Gear shift
  • Sun visors
  • Voice control
  • Cruise control
  • Navigation
  • Center armrest
  • Cup holders
  • Display screen
  • “Grab” handles

And, be sure to spend extra time on the steering wheel since according to Expedia Travel Group’s website, CarRentals.com, an average steering wheel is swimming with a whopping four times the germs as a toilet seat.

It’s also important to vacuum the vehicle’s carpeting and change out your cabin air filter to get rid of as many germs as possible.

Cleaners to use

Unfortunately, the majority of cleaners you would use in your home are off-limits when it comes to your vehicle.

Cleaners made with bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or ammonia can do serious damage to your interior, especially the plastics and vinyl that makes up a large part of your car, truck, or SUV.

Related: 5 ways to prepare your home and family for coronavirus

Instead, the experts say to opt for alcohol to clean your vehicle whenever possible although you should check your owner’s manual to ensure it’s safe – especially in the case of touch screens.

But, what if you can’t find alcohol for cleaning?

After all, since everyone knows that it has the power to kill coronavirus, alcohol and alcohol-based cleaners and hand sanitizers are flying off the shelf.

Well, in that case, good old fashioned soap and water is the best way to go.

Don’t forget hand washing

It’s also a good idea to keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer within easy reach so that you can disinfect your hands both when you enter and leave your vehicle.

And, don’t forget to wash your hands as soon as you walk through your front doors, leave your shoes outside, and change clothes right away to help ensure you’re not carrying coronavirus inside to your family and minimize its spread.


  1. How to clean your car to reduce the risk of coronavirus — MarketWatch
  2. How to Clean Your Car to Reduce the Spread of the Coronavirus — Kelley Blue Book
  3. How You Can Kill Coronavirus in Your Car Without Damaging Interior SurfacesConsumer Reports
  4. Disinfect your home and car to help kill coronavirus. Here’s how — CNET
  5. How to Clean Your Car for Coronavirus — Car and Driver
  6. How to Clean Your Car to Stop Coronavirus Spread, According to Experts — Best Life
  7. Keep your car clean to reduce risk from coronavirus — ABC News
Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.