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Guide: How do you sanitise and clean a car properly during coronavirus

Time 1 year ago

Cleaning a car and sanitising a car are two very different things – but as thoughts in the motor trade turn to returning to work it’s going to become more important than ever we learn the difference.

With some dealers using the government’s confirmation to Car Dealer Magazine last week that they are happy for dealers to sell online and deliver to customers’ homes to resume some level of trading, sanitisation of cars and how to do it is vital knowledge.

‘The interior of a car is a hotspot for the spread of the virus because it is a confined space,’ said Lance Boseley, of Jewelultra.


‘Evidence suggests that the virus can remain on plastic and metal surfaces from hours to days so it is important that the vehicle is regularly sanitised.’

Bosely, whose firm produces the Diamondbrite range of products, told Car Dealer his firm is the latest to turn its attention to sanitisation products. He said he has already switched half the company’s production capability to making hand and surface sanitisers.

And issued a warning that part exchange vehicles are not the only thing to worry about when it comes to risks from coronavirus.

He said: ‘A used car taken in part exchange means you are unlikely to know who has driven it so it is vital that the interior is cleaned, sanitised and treated with an antibacterial agent. 

‘But even with a new car, that vehicle could have been driven by multiple people since it left the factory so that will need sanitising.’

Boseley also said dealers should treat loan cars and demonstrators with equal attention. It is advisable to thoroughly sanitise them now and then again when dealers are allowed to open again after the lockdown.

‘No doubt awareness of all this will increase dramatically and some customers will ask or even demand that the car they are collecting has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitised,’ added Bosely.

So how can you sanitise a car? Boseley has put together some tips for Car Dealer which are below.

What should you clean and sanitise?

Cleaning followed by disinfection is the best way to prevent the spread of Covid-19. 

‘A sobering thought is that the average steering wheel has more bacteria than the average toilet seat,’ explained Boseley.

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Although all surfaces are at risk the six areas in a car that typically are high contact points and therefore are hotspots for spreading a virus include:

  • The steering wheel
  • Cupholder
  • Seatbelt
  • Inside door handle
  • Gearshift knob
  • Radio and buttons
  • Sat nav controls
  • Handbrake
  • Indicator, headlight and windscreen wiper controls

What are the stages of cleaning and sanitisation that dealers need to consider?

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available use a hand sanitiser ideally to World Health Organisation standards which has 75 per cent Alcohol (Isopropyl) content. (Diamondbrite makes these).
  • Wear gloves to avoid any reaction to the chemicals used
  • Remove any excess dirt from the interior of the vehicle. For example, crumbs, dust, debris with a cloth or vacuum
  • Clean any surface that a person’s hand might have come into contact with. You can use soap and water or a detergent solution like Diamondbrite Surface Sanitiser. Apply with a microfibre cloth or sponge and remove with a clean microfibre cloth. This will reduce the risk of bacteria spreading. You can use a mild bleach solution, but be careful as this may discolour the interior by removing the dye from the material.
  • For added peace of mind that area is sanitised use an additional anti-bacterial cleaner or a 70 per cent alcohol sanitiser. 
  • Remove the gloves carefully and dispose of them
  • Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or more or with a hand sanitiser
  • Importantly, make sure the work is documented to show the date and time the car was sanitised

Thank you to Jewelultra for help putting this advice article together. For more information visit, 01622 815679

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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