Germ-Free Transportation

by Jen Kachadourian
Finance Advisor
We Drive

With the rise of COVID-19 cases around the country, everyone is becoming more aware of every surface that they come in contact with.  Most of us are focused on cleaning and disinfecting our households, offices, and devices.  One place that we don’t want to overlook is our car!  If not properly cleaned, vehicles can become a harbor of unknown germs that we are bringing in and out!

Although it seems obvious and redundant, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to keep your hands clean!  Wash your hands before leaving your home and when you return.  Have hand sanitizer handy when you get back in the car after a trip to the store.  One bit of advice here:  Don’t keep a bottle of sanitizer in your car.  Heat buildup, especially here in South Florida, may cause the alcohol in the sanitizer to “boil”.  This will result in bottle expansion which may then result in a big mess that will require quite the cleaning effort!

You should always have disinfecting wipes handy to wipe the interior of your car and any other area that could be considered a high-touch area.  Disinfectant wipes work best in your vehicles cabin and are used by most vehicle manufacturers today.  Door handles, lock and window buttons, belt buckles, radio and climate control buttons all need a wipe down.  One area you really need to focus on is the steering wheel.  Studies have shown that a steering wheel can have four times the amount of germs found on a toilet seat!  This includes controls on the steering wheel for radio, voice control, cruise control, navigation, and paddle shifters.  Don’t forget about those two stalks that stick out (turn signal/headlights).

Having trouble finding disinfecting wipes?  Soap and water can be used also, just be careful not to scrub too hard, as you may remove some surface coating or dyes.  You should not use any type of bleach, or hydrogen peroxide.  Although they will put a welcome end to the coronavirus, they will also damage the vinyl and plastics used in most vehicles today.  Never use ammonia-based cleaners (Blue-Glass cleaners).  Ammonia breaks down vinyl and other substances making it sticky after being in heat and light.  If you use any cleaner on leather surfaces, try to apply a leather conditioner after to restore moisture.  When in doubt, ask someone at your local auto supply shop or look up what is best to use online.

While most of our friendly advice at We Drive is auto-related; boats, trains, and planes are frequent means of transportation here in beautiful South Florida.  We want to make sure you are protected no matter your vehicle of choice!  If you have a personal aircraft or watercraft, you want to follow the same rules as your car.  Focus on the high touch areas with disinfecting wipes.  Steering wheels, handles, all control panels, belt buckles, etc.  On a boat you want to give it a healthy spray of clean water to remove any loose debris or grime.  After this, spray a vinyl cleaning material or other boat-approved surface cleaner, rinse again with clean water, and dry.  Just as your car, if you are unsure of what cleaners to use, check with your local boat supply store for approved products or do research online.  If you are traveling on a major airline, or train, these companies should be completely and rigorously disinfecting cabin surfaces and customer contact areas.  Seats, tray tables, bathrooms, and floors are their main focus.  Even though they are taking extra precautions, you should also!  Wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer) when you get to your seat.  Then use a disinfecting wipe to wipe down all areas you commonly touch.  After sanitizing, wash your hands (or sanitize) again!  Going to put that water bottle and cross word puzzle in the seatback pocket?  DON’T!!!  It has been found that one of the highest concentration of germs hides there!  Instead, I recommend that you look into a seatback pocket accessory that is made for you to hang from the seatback tray table latch!  Most are machine washable, so when you arrive at your destination it can be cleaned.  If you are worried about the seat itself, consider buying a reusable/washable seat cover.  They also make them for tray tables and head rests!

With easy access to major ports, many of us have the luxury of hopping on a cruise ship for a quick getaway.  While these companies are also taking many extra sanitizing precautions there are also things you should be mindful of.  Don’t put your luggage down on the bed or sofa, there is an extra thick luggage mat provided in the cabin specifically for your bags that is cleaned regularly.  When you first get into your cabin, wash your hands, and then wipe any hard surface!  Wipe remotes, the phone, all door handles, balcony furniture, bathroom faucets, toilet seats, and flushers.  Wash any glassware provided with soap and water.  Although bed linens are changed and washed frequently, decorative pillows and bed spreads may not be, remove these!

These tips and cleaning advice will help keep you germ free no matter the mode of transportation.  Remember to clean your hands regularly.  This is our best defense to assure we are driving, flying or sailing germ-free and safely.

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