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How To: Keeping Your Car Clean and Hygienic During COVID-19

washing car exterior

Many of us regularly clean our bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and offices without much prompt. We live in these spaces and understand how unhygienic they can become. However, we don’t often think about our cars and how unsanitary they can become. If you think about it, your car is the intermediary between the outside world and your homes. The bacteria and germs we bring from the shops, streets, and our workplaces, all come back to our cars where they dwell on surfaces. That’s why it is essential to regularly clean your car, particularly the inside surfaces.

How Dirty is the Inside of Your Car?

According to 24Health, quite dirty. They report that there are 283 different types of bacteria in every square centimetre, according to a study from the Aston University in Birmingham. Not to mention, TIME has listed car keys as one of the dirtiest things you touch every day. While we may not realise it, our cars are one of the dirtiest spaces we encounter every day (even when they supposedly look clean upon inspection).

Right now, as we face an unprecedented phenomenon with the outbreak of coronavirus, it is as important as ever to maintain a clean living area – and this extends to areas we occupy for travel, like our cars. It is up to all of us to do everything we can to ensure the safety of ourselves, our family, our friends, and our community by doing our part. So, how do we safeguard our cars against coronavirus?

How Coronavirus Spreads

This is the latest information gathered from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that has officially labelled the outbreak of coronavirus as a pandemic. According to WHO, coronavirus, or COVID-19, spreads through:

  • Droplets of saliva that are expelled into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This is the primary source of the spread.
  • Droplets that land on surfaces. When we touch surfaces and then our faces, we are transferring bacteria which may infect us. It is believed that coronavirus may have similar qualities to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which survived on some surfaces for upwards of 72 hours.


Considering how coronavirus spreads, our cars are incredibly susceptible to contamination. To prevent the spread of coronavirus, we all need to take measures to ensure our cars are as clean as possible. So, to help you stay healthy, Novus advises taking the following steps to clean your car.

How to Clean Your Car Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

1.Maintain Hygienic Practices

Recently, the Australian government has launched a nationwide public service announcement that details appropriate health measures we should all be taking during coronavirus. These measures include the following.

  • Maintaining good hygiene through washing our hands, covering our coughs (with elbows or coughing inside our shirts), and cleaning our homes or offices regularly.
  • Practising social distancing at home, work, and at schools and in public. This means staying 1.5 metres away from one another.
  • Limiting our public gatherings by either not attending non-essential gatherings or meeting up in smaller crowds.
  • Self-isolating at home to inhibit the spread of the virus.


The government has also introduced restrictions on travel, which includes a ban on interstate travel. Fortunately, due to a reduction in travel incentives, we are using our cars less frequently and preventing additional bacteria from infecting us this way.

cleaning car outside

2.Give Your Whole Exterior a Wash

This is the first step towards deep cleaning your car. You will inadvertently touch the exterior of your car, which means you are transferring bacteria onto it (and not to mention, picking up bacteria off of it). Bacteria is also transferred onto your car through the elements and animals; droplets can survive in air and travel onto surfaces, and animals and insects which come into contact with your car contain bacteria which may spread.

While washing your car’s exterior is no doubt a chore, it is essential during this time. However, it is not as important as cleaning the interior during a viral pandemic. Therefore, if you must choose between cleaning the inside or the outside of your car, always choose the inside.

3.Vacuum the Inside of Your Car and Remove all Rubbish

Moving onto the interior of your car, first start by removing and disposing of rubbish items. Check for places that you cannot always see (under your seat, in pockets and cup holders, in the glove box, and other concealed areas) for rubbish which might be hiding. After you’ve done a thorough sweep, vacuum the interior of your car. Pay attention to little cracks and crevices (such as creases in the seats and gaps around the emergency brake or gear stick) as dust and bacteria can collect in these places.

Vacuuming is also one of those jobs no one likes doing. To make life easier, invest in a cordless vac, like the one we highlight in our Christmas blog.

car seat

4.Disinfect with a Detergent-based Solution

After all the visible contaminants have been removed from your car’s interior, it’s time to get to the stuff that you can’t see. After all, it’s the invisible bacteria that spread viruses and makes us sick. To kill germs and bacteria, wipe down surfaces in your car with a detergent-based solution. You may be thinking, won’t alcohol-based cleaning solutions be more productive?

While alcohol-based cleaners are effective at killing microbes that make us sick, they’re not always completely necessary. Surface cleaners that contain mild detergents are sufficient for destroying bacteria and viruses that live on car surfaces. Alcohol, in some cases, will dry out and assist in the breakdown of certain surfaces in your car, such as leather. For those with leather surfaces, a hot tip is to use makeup wipes to clean your car – these contain a mild detergent and moisturisers to prevent leather surfaces from drying out.

For those with standard synthetic surfaces, most surface cleaners will suffice (in fact, whatever you can access to will be fine). If you don’t own surface cleaner, go ahead and just use some good old soap and water. Remember to wipe down ALL surfaces, including:

  • The steering wheel
  • Handles
  • Buttons
  • The gear stick
  • The dashboard
  • Screens and displays
  • Panels you may touch

5.Wear Gloves

Back in the 1890s, it was customary to wear driving gloves. During those times, car heating was non-existent and driving in winter was brutal. Driving gloves also became somewhat of a fashion statement, particularly as more styles came out. Flash forwards to today, while we have adopted some pretty unusual car ornaments and fashions (car eyelashes?), wearing gloves while driving is no longer a conventional practice. So, why not bring it back for the sake of hygiene?

Of course, there’s no need to go out and splurge on proper (and most likely leather) driving gloves – unless you want to. A standard pair of synthetic gloves will do the job. A good habit to get yourself into is to use gloves while out, or while in the car – not both as this is counterproductive. This is so that you’re not bringing contaminants in or out. Why not leave a pair in your car?

hand sanitiser

Other Steps you can Take

  • Keep a bottle of hand-sanitiser in your car to use after going to the shops or work. You can also encourage passengers in your car to use this.
  • Seat passengers in the back, rather than the front, to increase the distance between you and them.
  • Crack a window while driving, or drive with fans on (no air-con), to maintain good ventilation in the car.
  • Clean your car’s HVAC unit. This is the filter unit that circulates the air in your car; the cleaner the unit, the cleaner the air. If you’re unsure how to do this, consult an expert to help you out.


There is no doubt in how serious this pandemic is, so it’s important that we all play our part in keeping our communities safe. Although we might not think it, our cars harbour millions of bacteria that could make us sick. To protect yourself and those close against the spread of viruses like COVID-19, remember our steps for cleaning your vehicle.

Novus Autoglass are leaders in windscreen and window replacement and repair. Contact an expert auto glass technician at Novus next time your windscreen or car window is in need of a service.

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