We may not be driving around as much as normal during the coronavirus lockdown but even so, your car is a hot spot for disease-causing germs. Whether you drive to work every day or once a week grocery shopping, car hygiene is of the utmost importance.
If you consider everything you touch in the shops, the office and in-between, there are some areas where good car hygiene practices may play a crucial role. Here is some expert advice on keeping your car germ free using basic cleanliness and hygiene guidelines in light of COVID-19.
Car Hygiene And The Coronavirus
Governments around the world have emphasised the importance of handwashing and sanitising as it’s been proven to help stop the highly contagious disease from spreading out of control. The pandemic has impacted our daily lives in many ways and people are becoming increasingly concerned about keeping themselves, their homes and cars clean and corona-free.
Did you know that under ‘normal’ circumstances, 15% of the South African workforce is on sick leave at any given time?
With that in mind, Nathalie Leblond, Category Manager at Initial South Africa, published a fascinating article on absenteeism in South Africa, quoting that “absenteeism costs the South African economy around R12-R16 billion per year.”
If that’s the cost without COVID-19, can you imagine what the coronavirus lockdown is doing to our economy?
What Do The Global Hygiene Experts Say?
The team at Initial Hygiene Services explains what causes these illnesses along with tips on how we can protect our families by preventing the spread of germs and bacteria into our homes and vehicles.
While flu and gastroenteritis (stomach flu) are the two most leading causes of absenteeism, there are seven common office germs we are exposed to. These are easily spread through contact which results in cross-contamination and includes the following:
- Norovirus (stomach flu)
- Staphylococcus aureus (Staph)
- Influenza (flu)
- Salmonella sp
- Escherichia coli (E. coli)
- Clostridium difficile (C. diff)
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) or “ulcer bacteria”
Remember, germs can survive on most surfaces for 24 hours, and sometimes longer, so anyone can get infected without even knowing until it’s too late. By following simple handwashing and hygiene practices, we can avoid spreading it from work to the car and back home.
Recommended: ‘7 Most Common Office Germs And How You Can Catch Them’
Car Hygiene And Contamination
If only you and your family members use the car and nobody has any coronavirus symptoms, treat your car as an extension of your home. Washing hands before and after using the car and not touching your eye, nose or mouth should suffice. However, if someone has caught the virus, or you suspect someone of being infected, your car needs to be cleaned and sanitised properly.
Make sure that you clean and disinfect all surfaces that the symptomatic person may have come into contact. This includes any object that is visibly contaminated with body fluids and all potentially contaminated high-contact areas. Here’s a list of the areas in your car that needs special attention with antibacterial wipes, spray or disinfectant:
- Interior and exterior door handles
- Window switches or window winders
- Door pockets
- Seatbelts and seatbelt clips
- Seat adjust buttons
- Steering wheel and hooter
- Indicator, lights and wiper switches
- Gear lever and handbrake
- Air vents and heating controls
- Dashboard and power button
- Multimedia screen
- Cubbyhole and logbook
- Central storage compartment and cup holders
- Rear-view mirror
- Petrol and bonnet lever
How Bacteria Spreads In Your Car
Putting coronavirus aside for a moment, many other factors can also lead to poor car hygiene. You may not realise this but your car’s interior is often dirtier than the outside as your car carries people and pets, making it a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Every surface that you or your passengers touch transfers germs, bacteria and dead skin cells.
Using your car for business means spending a considerable amount of time in your car which increases the likelihood of coming into contact with more germs from public areas. If you do spend extended periods in your car, keep hand sanitiser or sterilised wet wipes for emergencies.
Another culprit most of us are familiar with is eating and drinking in your car. It may seem innocent enough grabbing a takeaway and eating on-the-go but what you may not realise is that the grease and crumbs we leave behind are breeding grounds for germs.
The risks are considerably higher for those who you don’t regularly clean their vehicle’s interior. Keeping those germs at bay involves more than washing and vacuuming your car once a month. Make the effort and clean your car’s interior properly, especially during the current pandemic.
What About Car Hygiene At The Dealership?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), you must wash your hands regularly with soap and water. While this may not always be possible, an alcohol-based hand sanitiser is highly recommended. Using wet wipes and hand sanitiser after shopping before touching the steering wheel, gear lever and other hot spots in the car will minimise the risk of transferring germs.
The same applies when going for a test drive as you’d expect the dealership to wipe down all the areas where germs are commonly found. This will help prevent spreading germs from the previous driver of the vehicle to you and others.
To check that your car has been properly cleaned, rub a white wet wipe along some of the surfaces. If the wet wipe is brown, it shows that the area is dirty and likely a higher concentration of germs. Considering the significant risk of COVID-19, ask the dealership to sanitise the vehicle in front of you.
Ensuring a high level of car hygiene will not only help keep you healthy but it can also help your passengers. By following good car hygiene practices, especially in shared vehicles or public transport, like taxis, preventing transmission of germs between passengers is vital.
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