- Cleaning refers to the removal of dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces. Cleaning alone does not kill germs. But by removing the germs, it decreases their number and therefore risk of spreading infection.
- Disinfecting works by using chemicals, for example EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. But killing germs remaining on a surface after cleaning further reduces any risk of spreading infection.
Reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission for guests and hosts
There are two main routes of transmission of the COVID-19 virus: respiratory and contact. Turo’s enhanced cleaning and disinfection guidelines focus on minimizing the possibility of transmission through contact, specifically on frequently touched automotive surfaces such as keys, exterior door handles and trunk latches and vehicle interiors. It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but a recent study published by the NIH suggests that SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) can last two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Therefore, to reduce transmission it is vitally important that all frequently touched vehicle surfaces be properly cleaned and disinfected before and between trips.
How to clean and disinfect
The CDC has published broad guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting non-porous and porous surfaces, as well as surfaces frequently found on electronics, such as the controls and touchscreens commonly used in automobiles. However, because the CDC guidelines leave room for interpretation and recommend disinfectants that may discolor or damage delicate materials found in automotive interiors, Turo is offering supplemental instruction on how to properly clean and disinfect vehicle interiors.
Step-by-step cleaning and disinfection of vehicle interiors
The subsequent step-by-step cleaning and disinfecting recommendations were compiled from CDC, EPA and car detailing experts.
Before you start
- Protect yourself by wearing disposable gloves and an approved mask, and avoid touching your face during the cleaning process.
- Familiarize yourself with the porosity of common materials found in automotive interiors so that you can follow the appropriate cleaning and disinfection practices.
- Acquaint yourself with the list of vehicle “hot spots”; frequently touched vehicle surfaces with increased surface transmission risk. Special care should be taken to clean and disinfect these areas thoroughly to reduce the spread and transmission of COVID-19.
- Gather the recommended cleaning and disinfectant supplies.
Vehicle “hot spots” (frequently touched surfaces)
- Exterior door handles and trunk latches
- Interior door handles
- Sun visors
- Rear-view mirror
- Steering wheel
- Cup holder
- Seat belts
- Gear selector
- Infotainment and temperature controls
- All other switches (seat and mirror adjustments, windows, lights, turn signals, etc)
- Keys and key fob
Recommended cleaning and disinfectant supplies
- Disposable gloves
- Approved face covering
- Soap and water based interior cleaning spray (consult your manufacturer’s instructions for recommended cleaning solutions)
- Soft bristle brushes (example)
- Scrubber sponge
- Paper towels
- Microfiber towels
- Shop vac
- Portable upholstery cleaner (optional) (example)
Diluted alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, or EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. Although the CDC recommends using diluted bleach solutions for disinfecting, be aware that these can discolor and damage delicate vehicle interior materials and should be avoided for most car interiors. Please consult your manufacturer’s instructions for more details on recommended disinfectants.
Step 1: Clean
- Open the vehicle’s doors and windows to allow for ventilation before you begin the cleaning process, and leave doors and windows open during the cleaning process if possible.
- Clean from top to bottom, starting with sun visors, rear-view mirror, etc. moving down toward the dash, steering wheel, center console, seats and then items near the floor to avoid contaminating surfaces as you clean. Pay special attention to “hot spots” as these frequently touched surfaces have an increased chance of transmitting COVID-19.
- Clean interior non-porous and semi-porous surfaces by using soap and water. Spray a soap and water mixture directly onto non-porous and semi-porous materials. Once applied gently agitate with a small soft-bristled brush to create a lather, then wipe up excess lather with a microfiber towel until dry and repeat the process as necessary. Do not spray soap and water cleaners directly onto radios, gauges or any electrical components, instead spray the cleaner on a microfiber towel and then wipe the object until clean.
- Clean interior porous surfaces using an automotive upholstery cleaner, scrub gently and blot dry using a microfiber towel. Take special care when cleaning delicate headliner materials. If you have access to a portable upholstery cleaner, using it can be helpful to speed up the cleaning process and remove excess moisture from the porous surfaces.
- Be careful with leather and fabrics. If you’re using high-strength cleaners or products with alcohol, you should be careful which products you’re using on different surfaces so that you don’t damage them. That being said, there are plenty of safe multipurpose interior cleaners available at auto parts stores or online. Just build a habit of always reading labels.
- Don’t forget carpets and headliners. When it comes to headliners it’s best to avoid using a vacuum; you can end up either cutting a hole in it or pulling the fabric away from the adhesive underneath. Instead, use a rag and your multi purpose interior cleaner or a fabric/carpet cleaner like Angelwax Absolution. A carpet cleaner or shampoo with a scrubbing brush is a great combo for getting any stains or deep-set dirt out of fabric seats and carpet.
Step 2: Disinfect
- Make sure your vehicle interior is cool before applying any disinfectant. Applying disinfectant to warm or hot surfaces increases evaporation and reduces the “wet” or “dwell/contact time” of the disinfectant, thereby negating its ability to kill viruses.
- Refer to the “contact time” or “dwell time” on the disinfectant’s instructions; to kill the virus the surface must stay wet for the entire dwell or contact time.
- Moving from top to bottom, apply the disinfectant according to the instruction label. Pay special attention to “hot spots” as these frequently touched surfaces have an increased chance of transmitting COVID-19. If using disinfecting surface wipes, note that they dry out over time and must remain wet to be effective. Also, “Cleaning” wipes (that are not clearly marked “disinfecting”) do not kill viruses, do not disinfect and are not registered by the EPA.
Step 3: Finish up
- Clean and disinfect the key/key fob and place it on a clean surface
- Remove gloves and any other protective gear and properly dispose of it in the trash. Gloves should not be re-used.
- Clean your hands immediately after removing gloves, by washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
For your guests
We recommend that you keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol content) and a package of disinfecting wipes for use throughout the trip to minimize the spread of germs during the trip, as well as when returning the vehicle.