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How to Disinfect a Car: The Complete Guide

The Complete Step-by-Step Guide On How To Disinfect Your Car

how to disinfect a car

Knowing how to disinfect a car is always important. But now, more than ever, it is important to take the necessary precautions to properly clean our surroundings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and maintain our health. Along with social distancing and thoroughly washing your hands for 20 seconds, the CDC recommends properly disinfecting surfaces often. All that to say, taking the time to properly disinfect your car should be on your regular to-do list.

Disinfect A Car In Five Easy Steps.

This article will teach you how to disinfect your car. In it, you’ll learn about the best disinfecting products and the best methods to kill germs and keep your car as clean as possible. With these five easy steps, your car will be disinfected and ready to roll!

Steps for How To Disinfect a Car

Step 1: Acquire Cleaning Supplies

Microfiber towels for disinfecting a car

Let’s get started! When disinfecting a car, you will want to use the proper products and supplies. Before beginning, make sure you have the necessary items on hand.

These items include a car vacuum, three to five microfiber towels, dish soap and water, and isopropyl alcohol or disinfecting wipes. If possible, use disposable gloves.

You probably already have most of these items in your kitchen or your garage. If you need to purchase microfiber towels, a pack of three Meguiar’s X2020 Supreme Shine Microfiber Towels will do the job well.

Step 2: Vacuum the Car

Car vaccum

Before beginning the disinfecting process, vacuum your car.  Vacuuming itself will not disinfect the car, but it will make the disinfecting process easier and more effective.

There are many great car vacuums on Amazon, including the ThisWorx for Car Vacuum Cleaner TWC-01. Check out our list of the best car vacuums for some other great options.

Vacuum the carpets, seats, console, cup holders, dashboard, and any other surfaces that collect dust.

When finished, wash your hands using soap and water or hand sanitizer.

Step 3: Clean Entire Interior with Liquid Dish Soap, Water, and a Microfiber Towel


Dawn dish soap

First, add a few drops of dish soap to a bucket of warm or cold water. Then, dip your microfiber towel into the bucket. Work from the top of your car to the bottom. This will guarantee you get all of the surfaces. Wipe down your sun visors, dashboard, steering wheel, console, door handles, and seat belts.

Use the soap and water sparingly. Too much water could agitate the material on the car seats, whether it is leather or fabric. Avoid excess suds and water and do not scrub hard.

Continue dipping your towel into the bucket to maintain cleanliness. Rinse and ring the microfiber towel. If it begins to look dirty, replace it with a completely clean towel.

Our advice would be to use a new clean towel for each section of the car. Use one for the driver’s seat area. Then, use one for the passenger seat area. When finished with the front of the car, use one or two for the back seats and trunk.

When finished, wash your hands using soap and water or hand sanitizer. Also be sure to throw those microfiber towels in the washing machine, if you plan to reuse them.

Got stains in your car’s interior? We’ve got you covered with great picks for the best car seat cleaners and the best car carpet cleaners on the market.

Step 4: Use 70% Isopropyl Alcohol and Water Solution OR Disinfectant Wipes to Disinfect High-Touch Surfaces

Use alcohol wipes to disinfect a car

During this step, pay attention to the high touch areas in your car. Always scrub gently and circularly to avoid any damage or discoloration.

Isopropyl alcohol is a disinfectant and is safe to use on non-leather seats. If the car has leather seats, alcohol-based cleaners could cause damage or discoloration. With that in mind, the combination of soap and water in Step 3 would be sufficient for the disinfecting process. Alternatively, you can use a leather cleaner after disinfecting the leather with soap and water.

If you are worried about damage or discoloration on other parts of the car, test the disinfectant on a small part of your steering wheel. Then, wipe it off. If there is no damage, continue on!

Use disinfectant wipes or isopropyl alcohol solution with a microfiber towel to clean all the surfaces. Make sure to disinfect the entire steering wheel. This includes navigation, cruise control, stereo control, the gear lever, and the turn signals.

After that, disinfect the center console, armrests, cupholders, air conditioners, display screens, the door handles, grab handles, seat belts, buttons, seat adjusters, and any other areas of the car that you touch frequently.

Step 5: Wash Your Hands Thoroughly After You Finish Disinfecting Your Car

Hand soap

Before touching your face, wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and water, per CDC guidelines. If you do not have soap readily available, use hand sanitizer. In the future, always wash your hands before entering your vehicle. This will help maintain cleanliness.

Now You Know How to Disinfect a Car!

Not only is it now a safer environment to enjoy your motoring adventures in, but it’s also super clean. It’s time to sit back and enjoy the driving experience and/or ride!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?

Cleaning a surface physically removes germs, dirt, and other debris by the process of washing, scrubbing, or rinsing. Disinfecting a surface kills bacteria and viruses. To lower the risk of spreading germs by touch, disinfecting is a vital and necessary step.

Why should I use microfiber towels?

Microfiber towels are gentle and do not scratch surfaces. They capture dirt and dust. On the other hand, paper towels or rags are more abrasive and can easily scratch soft surfaces like plastic or paint.

Will isopropyl alcohol or disinfectant wipes damage the interior of my car?

Alcohol-based disinfectants such as isopropyl alcohol or disinfectant wipes are completely safe to use for non-leather car interiors. If the car has leather seats or a leather interior, alcohol-based disinfectants can possibly remove the protective layer from the leather and cause discoloration. To avoid any damage, you can clean the leather interior with soap and water, just like washing your hands. Use a microfiber cloth and a small amount of soap and water to clean and disinfect the leather.

What if I can't find isopropyl alcohol or disinfecting wipes?

If you cannot find these items, spend extra time cleaning with soap and water. Make sure not to scrub too hard though, as this could cause damage to the interior of your car.

Joybeth Sullivan
About Joybeth Sullivan

Joybeth Sullivan is an accomplished content creator. She does it all as a writer, photographer, and videographer. Her work has been published in local and international outlets. She graduated from the University of Georgia in May of 2020 with a dual-degree in English & Film. Today, she is based out of Denver, CO. When she isn't writing, you can find her on long drives in the mountains with her husky, Newman, riding shotgun.