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Don't forget to sanitize your vehicle, especially your steering wheel

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Posted at 1:58 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 14:01:33-04

INDIANAPOLIS — As many Hoosiers sanitize their homes, clothes and even their groceries, they could be forgetting to disinfect their vehicles.

The group KidsAndCars.org is urging drivers to clean and sanitize their vehicles as they do their home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Germs picked up in public places are deposited on your keys, door handles and steering wheel.

“KidsAndCars.org is deeply concerned about these often overlooked 'hot spots' and wants to bring immediate attention to proactive measures Americans can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” warns Janette Fennell, president of KidsAndCars.org.

The dirtiest surface in your vehicle is your steering wheel, experts say.

Steering wheels have four times more germs than a public restroom’s toilet seat, according to Tara LaMonte, associate director of KidsAndCars.org.

“This creates a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses to thrive including COVID-19,” LaMonte said. “Cleaning and sanitizing our vehicles should become a regular practice to protect our families, especially during cold and flu season.”


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The best defense for preventing the spread of COVID-19 is to stay at home and practice social distancing. However, if you have to leave home, KidsAndCars.org provided the following safety tips:

  • Do not ride inside a vehicle with someone who has or suspects they may have COVID-19. The virus can be spread by sharing air space or touching surfaces an infected person has come in contact with. The Journal of Hospital Infection reports that the virus can stay on surfaces found in cars for days.
  • Wearing disposable gloves, use soapy water to clean vehicle surfaces prior to wiping down surfaces with a disinfectant. This removes grease and dirt allowing you to effectively sanitize.
  • Clean and sanitize your vehicle after every trip. That way if you need to use your vehicle in case of an emergency, it will be ready to go.
  • Keep sanitizing wipes/cleaner in your vehicle to regularly clean vehicle surfaces and use while running essential errands, like buying groceries or prescriptions.
  • Always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol) before you drive or ride in a vehicle. Ensure all passengers do the same and help children wash their hands properly.

Use a disinfecting wipe when touching surfaces such as:

  • Gas pumps & key pads
  • Vehicle fuel door & cap
  • Parking meters & tollbooths
  • Drive through ATMS & other touch screens
  • Keep a pen in your vehicle to use at banks, pharmacies, etc. or sanitize the "community pen" if you must use it
  • Public charging stations

Using rideshares, taxis, trains or public buses;

  • Avoid using rideshares or public transportation if alternatives are available
  • Avoid touching as many surfaces as possible & keep your hands off your face
  • Opt for using credit or debit cards instead of cash (money harbors many germs)
  • Sit as far away from other passengers as possible
  • Bring sanitizing wipes and wipe down seat belts, door handles, arm rests, etc.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol
  • Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds as soon as possible after exiting any form of transportation

Top 12 frequently touched vehicle surfaces to pay special attention to:
1. Car keys & fobs
2. Exterior and interior door handles
3. Steering wheel
4. Power ignition button, window switches, radio, GPS, other buttons & dials
5. Gear shift
6. Seat belts & seat belt buckles
7. Car seats & booster seats
8. Air vents
9. Cup holders
10. Grab handles
11. Head rests
12. Seat pockets

The Environmental Protection Agency provides a list of effective disinfecting products, but most household disinfectants should be effective.

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