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How to Safely Disinfect Your Vehicle During Coronavirus
Wednesday, April 08, 2020

 As we fight the spread of the Coronavirus, we continue to look for ways to help in our own small way. For many of us, outside of home and work, our vehicle will be a place where we spend a lot of time. To combat this, we want to cover some of the basic disinfectant options that most people have access to and can safely use to regularly kill viruses and bacteria in a vehicle.

We’re going to break it down into Disinfecting hard surfaces, disinfecting fabrics and carpets, and then some final Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to using household disinfectants on your vehicle. Let’s get into it.


Before disinfecting the vehicle, if there is an excessive amount of dirt or loose debris, it’s best to remove as much of that extra contamination as possible. This will allow the disinfectants to work more effectively by making better contact with the surfaces you are cleaning. To do this, we made sure to thoroughly vacuum the vehicle prior to application.

Disinfecting Hard Surfaces and Leather

The safest household disinfectants to use on a vehicle are standard disinfectant wipes and general-purpose disinfectant sprays. For hard surfaces, while an aerosol spray would also work, we like to stick with the disinfectant wipes because of the controlled application they provide.

These wipes can be applied to most hard surfaces, this includes, plastic, wood, metal, rubber, and we’re even going to include leather. The one area we would recommend staying away from is any kind of touch screen navigation/entertainment system, but more on that later. While using pre-moistened disinfectant wipes, it is important to be as thorough as possible when wiping an area, this includes getting into small areas around things like window controls, buttons, knobs, the steering column, etc.

Once you have wiped an area with the cloth to prevent any chance of leaving behind water spots from the damp cloth, we recommend following up the damp cloth with a dry towel to remove any excess liquid.

Disinfecting Fabric Seats and Carpet

Moving to carpets and fabric seats, a disinfectant wipe would be safe to run across the surface, but to get a deeper clean and more effect, this is where we would suggest moving to standard all-purpose spray disinfectant.

When applying, don’t soak the fabric with the spray. You can allow the spray dwell for the proper time recommended by the manufacturer, however similar to the wipe application, we recommend following up your spray with a dry towel once it has been allowed to dwell. This step is optional, but we find it can be helpful to dry the seats more quickly and remove extra debris.

Other Tips and Areas to be Cautious

According to the CDC, alcohol solutions above 70% will also be effective in disinfecting an area of the Cornoavirus. For detailers or those with access to an IPA solution, this can also be used as an alternative cleaning solution, safe for many surfaces. One caution we have on using IPA on leather surfaces, if used frequently, IPA can start to break down the outer coating of the leather, so if you see color start to pull off onto your applicator, we would recommend against further application to avoid damage.

We recommend the most caution when it comes to touch screens like navitation or entertainment systems. These screens are very sensitive and can be easily damaged by alcohol-based cleaners. Harsh cleaners can cause damage to the screen’s anti-glare coatings and cause other issues such as blushing. It is always a good idea to check your manufacturers recommendations on screen care prior to cleaning them. If you are in doubt, we recommend sticking to the safest option: simply wiping the screen down with warm water on a damp towel.

Finally, don’t use harsh bleach-based cleaners. While these may work as a disinfectant option, they come with a high risk of damaging the colors and materials of a vehicle.


Do’s & Don’ts Summary


  • ·         Use basic household disinfectant wipes and general-purpose aerosol disinfectants on most interior surfaces, (caution against allowing these products to dry on the surface).
  • ·         Test your disinfectant on an inconspicuous area before fully applying to an area.
  • ·         Check with disinfectant manufacturers proper application and dwell times for maximum effectiveness.
  • ·         Check your car manufacturer’s suggestions on safe touch screen care and cleaning.
  • ·         Use disposable towels and rags when possible to avoid moving contamination from car to car.
  • ·         Remember to clean accessories such as keys and fobs along with the high touch areas.


  • ·         Don’t use bleach-based cleaners. Bleach-based cleaners have a high likelihood to damage the color or texture of many surfaces.
  • ·         Don’t use alcohol-based cleaners on your touch screen systems. Many cleaners can damage the coatings on these screens, so when in doubt, stick with a warm water on a damp towel.
  • ·         Don’t rely on standard detailing cleaners to disinfect your vehicle on their own. Check that the cleaner you are using has been approved by the EPA as a disinfectant.
  • ·         It may seem obvious, but don’t use gel-based alcohol cleaners on the surfaces of your vehicle.

We hope this basic guide to safely disinfecting your vehicle helps keep both you and your vehicle safe in the coming months. The Pro’s here at Malco are ready to help with any additional questions you have when it comes to safely caring for your vehicle so please feel free to reach out to us at any point through social media or through our customer service channels. Stay safe and stay healthy everyone!


Contact Malco Customer Service 

for more information 800-253-2526
or at


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