Our car or vehicle is where we spend a lot of time. It’s inevitable there’s some germs in there so here’s some tips on how to clean and disinfect your car, truck or SUV interior.

sanitize car interior

Car disinfectant

An easy solution if you can find some. At the time of writing this, during the coronavirus pandemic, you will be lucky to find any of this. It does exist though. There are car disinfectant bombs and foggers available (if you can find one in stock).

Soap and water

Nappa recommends using soap and water. Just as we are being advised to wash our hands with soap and water. Soap and water is able to break down the virus. 

Here’s why soap works;

“…because the virus is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. Soap dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and dies – or rather, we should say it becomes inactive as viruses aren’t really alive”
Pall Thordarson
Professor in Chemistry at the University of New South Wales, Sydney

Be savvy with how much water you use. You don’t want to soak anything, including electronics which could cause water damage. Scrubbing with a damp soapy cloth is recommended. 

Disinfectant wipes / spray

It is possible to use disinfectant wipes or spray to clean and disinfect your car. However, some of these harsh chemicals can damage car interior’s and fabrics. They may work on plastic surfaces ok, but you may want to do a spot test first to make sure. 


It is not recommended you use any disinfectant product that contains alcohol on leather surfaces. It will most likely damage the leather. 

Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol at least 70%)

Consumer Reports interviewed Jeff Stout, executive director global innovation at Yangfeng Automotive Interiors, here’s what he says. 

“We will use that to clean smudges or any kind of last minute details before we ship the product…all the company’s products – from plastic trim to painted chrome to imitation leather – have been tested to ensure they don’t degrade when exposed to pure isopropyl alcohol”.

Consumer reports goes on to say, 

Do not use: ammonia based cleaners on car touch screens and do not use bleach or hydrogen peroxide. These chemicals may kill a virus, but will also likely damage you car interior. 

Where to clean in your car

When trying to clean and disinfect your car, it can easy to forget some areas that are touched the most. Here’s a list to make it easier;

  1. Steering wheel
  2. Door handles, inside and out, on all doors and truck tailgate
  3. Transmission shifter
  4. Frequently used buttons
  5. Radio and infotainment system buttons. You can turn it off the screen so you don’t accidentally mess up your settings. 
  6. Turn signal and wiper stalks
  7. Arm rests on the doors and center console
  8. Grab handles
  9. Child car seats (these usually have a removable cover that can be put in the washing machine, but check label first)
  10. Seat levers, especially if you have a 3-row vehicle and pull the lever to let kids in
  11. Photo charger cable
  12. Inside the windows
  13. Seats and fabrics

Hopefully these tips can help you clean and disinfect your car without damaging it!

Wash your hands after you’re done and stay safe!

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