VANCOUVER -- Washing your hands and sanitizing surfaces are important in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

One area you may have overlooked is your car and disinfecting your ride, goes far beyond the steering wheel. Think about how many surfaces in your car get touched on an average trip. The door handles both inside and out, control knobs and buttons, the touch screen, even your directional and wiper control stalks are touched almost every time you drive your vehicle.

Consumer Reports’ automotive editors say that because the interior of most cars is made up of a number of different materials, it’s important to use the right products and techniques to disinfect vehicles.

You definitely want to stay away from using bleach or hydrogen peroxide in your car. Those products could easily damage the upholstery.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol solutions that contain at least 70 per cent alcohol should be effective at killing COVID-19. This means nearly every interior surface of your car can be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol-based cleaners you alreadyuse around the house.

Consumer Reports recommends focusing on disinfecting vehicle hot spots: the steering wheel, door handles, your car’s shifter, window and control buttons, wiper and turn-signals, door armrests, grab handles, and seat adjusters.

If your car has a touch screen, don’t use anything that has ammonia as an ingredient because that can strip off anti-glare and anti-fingerprint coatings.

And if you’re low on isopropyl alcohol-based cleaning supplies, soap and water are also a safe bet for most surfaces. But no matter what you use, a gentle touch is recommended.

The surfaces inside your car are typically more delicate than the countertop in your kitchen, so it’s important to take care when you apply the cleaning products.

Gently wipe down leather with a microfiber cloth; rubbing too vigorously could remove they colour dye.

And when wiping down fabric upholstery, avoid using too much water, because it could end up creating a musty smell or encouraging mould growth in the cushions.

And try to wash your hands before driving. It will drive help keep surfaces clean and help keep surfaces from prematurely wearing out.  

With files from Consumer Reports