How to disinfect vehicles to stay safe during the COVID-19 outbreak

Written by Nizam Shaikh

COVID-19 has become a global pandemic with over 5 lakh reported cases worldwide and about 750 reported cases in India, Government agencies around the world have imposed a complete lockdown restricting travel and movement among its citizens to help contain and avoid the virus spread. While social distancing has proved to be a key factor in containing the virus there are several measures an individual must take at a personal level to help humanity fight COVID-19. 

Though every individual is practising social distancing and doing their best to stay at home, going out to buy medicine, groceries, food and daily essentials is inevitable which may involve using a personal vehicle. To protect yourself and others from the Corona Virus Disease individuals must keep their cars and motorbikes clean and sanitised after all they are our personal space whenever we are travelling in them no matter how small the distance is. 

Now we understand at this time and hour it is not possible to sanitise vehicles using high-end ozone gas treatments, which are proven to be effective against a broad spectrum of bacterias and viruses, but something is better than nothing and the next best thing that has been proven effective that you can use at home is soap and water. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), simple soap and water solution can kill a wide variety of bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus (CoV2) type.

How soap and water help you may ask? The CoV2 or CoronoVirus is covered with pointy pinnacles underneath which is a layer of lipids (fats), soap helps in dissolving this fragile layer of lipids rendering the virus ineffective as it needs this layer to bind to the human bodies cells in order to infect a person. How soap dissolves the virus layer? It has everything to do with polarity, lipids cannot dissolve in water as they are hydrophobic in nature, but soap has a unique property, it has a polar end (head) and a non-polar end (tail) in the same molecule. Because of this unique property soap can dissolve in water and at the same time, it can dissolve fats (lipids), in case of the coronavirus, its outer protective shell on a microscopic level. 

Now that you know how to render the CoronaVirus ineffective, what parts should one clean thoroughly in their vehicle before and after using it to go out especially in a virus outbreak situation like this? According to a new investigation by the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), coronavirus can survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours which makes cleaning the interiors of your vehicle imperative. 

We recommend cleaning the seats and if possible temporarily covering them with disposable plastic, thoroughly cleaning the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems by using disinfectant sprays, thoroughly cleaning frequently touched surfaces such as exterior door handles, windows, seatbelts, steering wheel, gear selector knob, handbrake (E-Brake), all the control switches and buttons, door pads, interior door levers, grab handles and infotainment systems. 

Some of the parts mentioned above contain sensitive electronics and cannot be cleaned using soap & water but alternatively, these surfaces can be cleaned using alcohol-based disinfectants, which have also been proved to be effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria and viruses. One can also use hand sanitizer or surgical alcohol rubs such as Sterillium available at local pharmacies. A good alcohol based disinfectant has a strength of around 70% weight/volume. 

Motorcycles are fairly easy to clean and can be washed completely using soap & water, but while venturing out to buy daily essentials protect yourself by wearing an N95 rated face mask underneath your helmet and protective gloves at the minimum. Also, clean and sanitise the helmet before and after use especially the chin area and the visor.

To keep yourself protected against COVID-19 we at recommend that you stay home and avoid going out in public unless it is absolutely necessary. Follow instructions from local health care authorities, regularly wash hands with soap & water, take special care and thoroughly disinfect hands before using contact lenses, keep your home sanitised by cleaning frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, refrigerator doors, kitchen tops, table surfaces, light & fan switches, faucets computer keyboards, remote controls, mobile phones etc. 

Team wishes you safety and good health in these trying times.

A quick soap wash