Report: The Best Way To Combat Viruses On Car Interior Surfaces Is Alcohol

The optional soft drinks cooler of an XC70. (Image: Volvo Cars)

These days, even automotive websites are crammed full of Coronavirus related news and posts, meaning that petrolhead sites aren’t the kind of safe haven where one could completely escape the doom and gloom. (I should know, I’ve penned a couple of COVID-19 stories today). Except, of course, if you actually enjoy the inventive pandemic memes spread all around the web, or figure out you might as well educate yourself about the virus to stay safe.

Earlier, there have been news posts about just how grimy cars and shared vehicles can be. Sometimes it feels like best practice not to think about the average steering wheel and how many germs it might carry at any given time, but when we’re looking into staying safe during a pandemic, you start thinking about which surfaces would be best wiped quickly. And especially if you’re cleaning your own car, you’d ideally want to use solutions that do not damage interior materials.

Keith Barry from Consumer Reports contacted some of the best minds in automotive interiors, and discussed which products to use. Since the frequently touched surfaces that would benefit from cleaning can feature various materials, one would have to use products that do not degrade any of them.

It’s often said that alcohol is a solution, and that rings true even now. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol solutions above 70% strength are effective against coronavirus. Jeff Stout from interior parts supplier Yanfeng told Consumer Reports that nearly every interior surface can be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol, and that Yanfeng uses it in preparing products before shipping them as everything has been tested to be compatible with it. Bleach or hydrogen peroxide are far more damaging, as are ammonia based products.

To get the best picture of what you should be using to clean your car, make sure to read the rest of the article. Meanwhile, I’m watching the 1994 miniseries version of The Stand by Stephen King and wondering how much isopropyl alcohol the interior of that patient zero Chevy Citation would need.

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