Coronavirus Car Cleaning Tips

by E&B Auto
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In the age of coronavirus, how do you keep your car clean?

You might be lucky enough to find a place where you can get the exterior washed…maybe…but whether your car or truck is brand new or vintage, you still want her to look great, right?

So here are our car cleaning tips with the coronavirus twist.

Where to Wash Your Car

The best place to wash your car is in the shade. You want the car to be cool. Too much sun makes it hard to see if you are doing a good job, and sun and heat can leave car spots.

Wash Your Hands

Before you start washing your car, be sure you are not spreading the coronavirus. So, first things first: wash your hands

Wash the Keys, Key Fob

coronavirus car cleaning includes key fob

This is one of the places that is most likely to be loaded with germs. Clean your key or key fob often!

Decide How Deep You are Diving In

This coronavirus car cleaning tip requires asking yourself some questions.

  • Are you wanting to have your car detailed clean?
  • When was the last time your vehicle was cleaned?
  • Has someone who tested positive been in your car?
  • Is everyone in your family okay and you just want to get off the superficial dust and the highest ‘danger points’ on the car?

Get Your Supplies in Order

cleaning products

There’s nothing worse than starting a job only to find out you are missing key tools to get it done.

Here’s what you are going to need:

Cleaner(s) that kill the coronavirus: disinfectants with at least 70% alcohol; some EPA registered cleaners; soap and water; glass cleaner. Avoid cleaners that use ammonia, bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Although they will kill the coronavirus they can also damage upholstery and surface treatments in your car.

Exterior cleaner: use a cleaner that is safe for automotive paint. Bug and tar remover (optional)

Soft cloths and sponges: you will want a separate cloth for each cleaner type, and one for drying. You will also want to have separate cloths for the inside and the outside of the car. Always have a couple extra cloths or sponges in case one drops on the ground. You don’t want to pick up a tiny piece of sand or grit and scratch your paint job with it!

Towels/chamois for drying: make sure you have soft, clean towels or chamois for drying the exterior of your car.

Buckets: mostly for the exterior, but you can use water on the car’s interior in some places. Have a bucket for soapy water and a separate bucket for clean water.

Brushes: depending on how much of a detail job you are going to do, you might just need an old toothbrush or inexpensive painting ‘chip’ brush for the vents and a scrub brush for the floor mats.

Q-tips for the nooks and crannies: if you are really going for it, dig out the cotton swabs!

Vacuum: (okay, this should be obvious)

Trash bag: (again, obvious)

Start Inside

coronavirus car cleaning inside
  1. Even if you are going to wash the car’s exterior, we suggest you start with the insides. But first, wipe off the door handle with an antiseptic/antibacterial wipe, whether store bought or homemade.
  2. Take out all the junk that’s been piling up in the console, map pockets, glove box, under the seats, in the trunk. This is the perfect time to pitch a bunch of stuff you forgot was even in there.
  3. Wipe out any storage areas with doors or lids—like the center console or the glove box. Using the soapy water and a damp (not super wet) cloth or choose another cleaner.
  4. Working from the top, brush out the dirt that is in the crevices.
  5. Wipe down the instrument panel, the inside of the doors. For surfaces that you touch often like steering wheels, the touchscreen, a gear shift knob, turn signals etc with disinfectant.
  6. Clean the glass. Ammonia is in most window cleaner, so rather than trying to spray it on the glass and getting a lot of it on the dash, instead spray the cleaner on a clean dry cloth.
  7. Vacuum the seats and floor mats. Be sure to use the appropriate cleaner depending on your seat’s material. If you have leather seats you should use a leather conditioner to help prevent it from drying out and cracking. But be careful—did you know that leather is often dyed? Rubbing too hard can take the color out.
  8. If you are really going for it, now is the time to shampoo your carpets and floor mats using a good brush.

Move Outside

coronavirus car cleaning exterior

For this part of the job, if you haven’t already done so, be sure your car is in a shady spot and that the surface is cool to the touch.

  1. Rinse the car, gently and thoroughly. This is to loosen dirt—not take the paint off!
  2. Wash from top down. Using your sponge, run lengthwise across the car. Don’t try to move in circles. Always clean out your sponge before you move to the next area.
  3. Not corona related, but this is the time to get bugs, tar and other stubborn grime off your car’s bumpers. You might need bug and tar remover for super difficult jobs.
  4. Again, not corona related, but clean the wheel rims.
  5. Undercarriage wash—this is easier at a do-it-yourself car wash.
  6. Wash the door jams and the frames around the trunk and sunroof if you have one.
  7. Rinse the car thoroughly
  8. Dry off the car. Use a chamois or soft towel (like terrycloth) Move in a back and forth motion, not circular.

Optional Exterior Steps

coronavirus car cleaning: drying
  1. Polish your car. Polish is a little bit abrasive—it is designed that way. It actually removes fine scratches in the finish. Do not rub in circles, go back and forth.
  2. Wax your car. The wax is applied to a cleaned and polished car. The wax protects the paint.
  3. Apply silicone spray to the weather stripping. This will help prevent air and water from leaking in.
  4. Use tire-shine products. This gives a “cleaned by a professional” look

Now that your car is all beautiful and clean—it’s time to take her for a drive!


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