It might be hard to believe, but rubbing alcohol will do the trick without causing damage to most interior components

If you’re like a lot of people, you’re probably forced to leave home at one point or another, even during the pandemic that is the coronavirus (COVID-19.) Naturally, you want to protect yourself and you’re family and, if you’re an Uber or Lyft driver, keeping your vehicle clean and corona-free is of paramount importance not only for your safety, but the safety of your passengers as well. After all, you don’t want to turn into the next outbreak monkey on four-wheels, do you? Well, the best thing you can do is clean and sanitize frequently touched surfaces often. And, believe it or not, isopropyl alcohol just might be your best friend after all – it’s cheap and (hopefully) readily available. Just make sure you grab something that is at least 70-percent alcohol.

How To Sanitize Car Interior

As much as you probably hate to hear it, your vehicle is like a rolling petri dish for disease and sickness to spread.

If you’re an Uber, Lyft, or Taxi driver, you’re even more at risk for nasties to make their way inside and, ultimately, into your family home. Those of you that cart people around really need to take extra caution during this COVID-19 outbreak, and the truth is that alcohol will do the trick as long as it’s 70-percent or more. Worried about damaging your interior, well a lot of sources are saying that it’s completely safe.

In fact, nearly every interior surface of your vehicle can be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol. This comes from Jeff Stout, the Executive Global Director of Global Innovation at Yangfeng Automotive Interiors. Yangfeng, by the way, is the world’s largest supplier of interior parts for cars, and it works with almost every major automaker on the planet. To express just how safe alcohol is for your car’s interior, Yangfeng uses it as a last-minute detialer.

”We will use that [alcohol] to clean smudges or any kind of last-minute details before we ship the product.”

Everything from plastic trim bits and imitation leather have all been tested to ensure they can withstand exposure to being cleaned with alcohol. Stout even claims that you can rub soft cloth upholstery with alcohol to clean it. However, there is one thing to be warned of. Most leathers and imitation leathers have dyes and cleaning to vigorously could remove the dyes.

How to Clean and Sanitize Leather or Imitation Leather Upholstery With Alcohol

How To Sanitize Your Car's Interior from COVID-19 Without Ruining It
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The process for cleaning your car’s leather or imitation leather is quite simple.

The most important thing to remember is to take it easy. If your leather (real or imitation) has dyes in it, too much scrubbing can cause the color to fade. And, you really don’t want that. So, use a mild cleaner on the surface of the trim first to remove any grime or film that has accumulated (you don’t really let that happen, do you?) From there, apply a little bit of isopropyl alcohol (at least 70-percent) to a fresh, soft cloth and gently wipe down the interior trim. Remember, alcohol has the nature of evaporating fast, so you may have to repeat this step multiple times depending on the size of the trim piece. Once you’re done sanitizing, you can use a high-quality leather cleaner and conditioner to help keep any leather interior in good shape.

As a side note, remember to wash your hands before you enter your car and first thing after you exit the car. This will help prevent spreading of not only COVID-19 or other germs.

What Interior Pieces Should Be Sanitized Inside Cars to Protect Against COVID-19?

How To Sanitize Your Car's Interior from COVID-19 Without Ruining It
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First and foremost, you should clean and sanitize any frequently touched surfaces in your car. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Steering wheel
  • Door handles
  • Shift lever
  • Any and all buttons (especially window buttons)
  • Touchscreen displays
  • Wiper and turn signal stalks
  • All interior armrests, including those on the doors, center console, and pull-down armrests in rear bench seats
  • Door grab handles
  • Ceiling and pillar grab handles
  • Seat adjusters
  • Door glass

All of these items and most other plastic trim pieces can all be safely sanitized with 70-percent isopropyl alcohol. It’s probably best to avoid applying any detailing conditioner to plastic pieces while there’s still potential for COVID-19 to spread as it could make sanitizing later on more difficult as it has to be removed as part of the sanitizing and cleaning process as well. If you drive a taxi or work as a Lyft or Uber driver, sanitizing multiple times per day or, at the very least, anytime you suspect your passenger may have been ill could go a long way to limiting your exposure or that of your next passengers.

Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert -
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read More
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