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Deep Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Car’s Interior: A Guide

Keeping your car clean was important before the coronavirus pandemic. Many other harmful bacteria, like E. Coli or Staphylococcus, can grow in a dirty and cluttered car. However, with the coronavirus running amuck through the US, keeping your car clean and disinfected is essential. Not only will it keep you healthy, but it’ll also keep the people you meet healthy too since the virus snowballs through physical interactions.

Unfortunately, with many businesses shut down, getting your car cleaned may not be possible. On the bright side, cleaning it yourself isn’t difficult. You’ll need some time and a few household tools and cleaners. Keep reading to see how to clean and disinfect your car’s interior properly.

Cleaning Material

The material you can and should use depends on the material of which your car’s interior is made. Isopropyl alcohol is a disinfectant applicable to almost all interior materials. It can clean stains and kill the aforementioned pathogens. However, it can damage the protective coating over leather material. This coating is designed to prevent discoloration, so damaging it could set your interior up for worse stains. For leather interiors, drop the alcohol and use soap and water instead.

Prioritize cleaning the parts of your car’s interior that you frequently touch. Your steering wheel and dashboard should top this list. Soap is effective at killing the virus, which is why the CDC recommends frequent handwashing to protect yourself from the virus. Any mixture of isopropyl alcohol that is 70% or more alcohol is also effective at disinfecting your car. Once you’ve got the appropriate materials for your car’s interior, it’s time to start cleaning.


Before cleaning your car, you should keep some personal protective equipment handy. In particular, you should wear gloves, goggles, protective uniform, and a face mask, in case your car is carrying any pathogens. Once you’re done cleaning, you should dispose of the personal protective equipment, if they’re disposable. If they’re not disposable, make sure you clean and store them properly. Don’t start your car and make sure no wires are exposed in your car, especially your dashboard since you’ll be using liquids to clean it.  

How to Clean Different Areas

A person wiping a car’s dashboard

To begin cleaning, you should bring out your vacuum cleaner and start vacuuming your interior. While alcohol and soap are good at getting rid of germs, it’s best to use them on dirt-free surfaces. Focus on your car’s mats, shelves, seats, and the area below the seats. For the harder-to-reach places, such as below the seats, you’ll have to manually remove the dirt and debris with your hands or a brush. These places are where most dirt will accumulate, although they’re not the only places.

Once you’re done removing the dirt, it’s time to start disinfecting the car. You should start disinfecting the parts that receive frequent traffic, such as your steering wheel. Using either an isopropyl alcohol wipe or soap and a sponge, begin gently wiping down your wheel. Rushing this or being overly rough can damage your car’s interior, so it’s essential to take your time.

The guidelines for cleaning your seats are the same as your steering wheel. One addition is to not use too much of any liquid while cleaning your seats. If you’re using alcohol wipes, that shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you’re using soap and water, leaving excess water can replace one nuisance for another, since car seats can take a long time to dry.

To recap, be gentle while cleaning your car’s interior and avoid excess liquid. With those tips in mind, you should ideally clean the entirety of your car’s interior. At the very least, you should clean your steering wheel, doors, seats, mats, handbrake, gear stick, and dashboard. These are the parts of the car most frequently interacted with, so they also carry the most germs.

Once you’re done wiping down and disinfecting your car’s interior, bring your vacuum back. Wiping can dislodge some dirt that the vacuum cleaner may have missed during your initial vacuuming. Vacuuming one more time will ensure your car is spotless.

At this point, your car is clean and fit for safe usage. However, you can remove the smell of soap or alcohol and treat your car’s interior. By an odor-removing product and conditioner and apply it.


Cleaning your car is only part of the process of protecting yourself from the coronavirus and other pathogens. The other part of the process is to make sure your car remains clean. The CDC recommends that drivers always wash their hands before sitting in and after exiting their car. Washing your hands helps keep your car coronavirus-free since soap kills the virus. If you cannot wash your hands with soap, you should keep a sanitizer handy.

Speaking of sanitizers, you should keep one handy when you enter the car. However, you don’t need to keep one in your car, and, in some circumstances, it may be better if you don’t keep one. Depending on where your car is parked, its interior can get hot. Since things tend to expand when heated, leaving a sanitizer in the car could cause it to expand. If hot enough, you could find your car’s interior covered in sanitizer. As good as disinfecting your car is, this will require you to re-clean your car. Instead, carry a hand sanitizer on you.

Additionally, buying console and cup holder liners can extend the time between your cleanups. A liner covers different parts of your car’s interior to prevent the buildup of dirt. A good liner will come with handles that allow for easy cleanups and edges that prevent spills from spreading. Moreover, they’ll also have a lot of friction that prevents them from slipping.

You should get in touch with Cup Holder Hero for liners that keep your car clean and allow for easy cleanups. They offer interior accessories, such as the aforementioned custom liner kits, for an assortment of cars, such as the Chevy K5 Blazer and Dodge Charger. Get in touch and make sure your future cleanups aren’t as tiring as the first.

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