Is It Safe to Use Disinfectant Wipes on Your Car’s Interior?

With concerns for sickness prevention at a peak, many are turning to vigilant cleaning practices to safeguard from coronavirus. When it comes down to it, disinfectant wipes (like Lysol or Clorox wipes) are a safe option for sanitizing high contact surfaces such as steering wheels, door handles, trim panels and gear shifters. In fact, it’s the cleaner most manufacturers use today. But if you’re looking to keep your car’s interior in tip-top condition, there are some safer household alternatives to keep in mind.

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In general, disinfectant wipes are a fine option for light, short-term use. But if your goal is to keep your vehicle pristine, the key is good old-fashioned detergent-based cleaners like liquid hand soaps or dish soaps. Not only is soap less abrasive, but it also works to degrade coronavirus quickly. Basic automotive cleaning wipes (i.e. Armor All) are another safe alternative, and most contain a mild detergent good for killing off viruses.

If you’re looking to go the disinfectant wipe route, choose your cleaner carefully. Automotive experts advise against using any cleaners with bleach or hydrogen peroxide, as both will cause more damage to the vinyl, plastics and other materials often used in car interiors.

How to Disinfect Leather Car Seats & Trim

In terms of leather surfaces, you may want to set that canister of Clorox wipes aside. Most leathers and imitation leathers are treated with a protective coating, but that barrier will break down from disinfectant use over time. Both alcohol- and detergent-based cleaners can sap the natural oils out of leather surfaces, causing them to become dry and brittle. To keep your upholstery in top condition, your best bet is to use a specialized leather cleaning solution.

If your main focus is a complete germ annihilation, you can mitigate the harsh effects of disinfectants with leather conditioners. These will help to replenish the oils lost in the cleaning process. Makeup removal wipes are another great household alternative, as they often have disinfecting properties and contain moisturizers that are good for organic trim materials.

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