Automotive Guide on How to Clean Leather, Upholstery, and Plastic for COVID

July 15, 2020

The coronavirus can be transmitted by surface contact, which is a real pickle for auto dealers, rideshare drivers, and car rental companies. The risk of COVID-19 has increased the extent to which any shared vehicles must be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Learn how to clean leather upholstery and interior surfaces of your automobiles, to help stop the spread of coronavirus. 

Learn everything you need to know about how to clean and disinfect your car and keep yourself, your customers, and your friends and family healthy. Identify common pitfalls in the leather cleaning process, as well as professional COVID-19 cleaning solutions for automotive fleets and commercial vehicles.  

Complete Guide to How to Clean Leather and Disinfect Your Car 2020

More than ever before, Americans are hyper-aware of their everyday hygiene habits. How many surfaces do you touch before putting your hands on the steering wheel? If you want to protect yourself and your passengers from the risk of getting infected with COVID-19, you have to know how to clean leather, metal, plastic, and fabric.

SARS-CoV-2 lives on surfaces for up to three days. Your door handles, seat belt, seat adjuster, gear shifter, air conditioner buttons, radio dial, sunshade, steering wheel – etc. – are all surfaces that can remain infectious for up to three days. And, the compounding factor, is that the car is on the frontlines of everything you can’t control. 

Whether it’s the gas station, the grocery store, automotive shop, or doctor's office – wherever life takes you amid this pandemic, the next stop is the car. The interior elements of automobiles are frontline workers, and they must be treated with the same hygienic diligence as the one driving it. So, since everything and anything your fingers touch is a possible surface for transmission, make a regular daily habit of performing some advanced sanitation steps on the interior of your car. 

Use Cloth – Not Paper for Cleaning Leather and Interior Surfaces

Whether it concerns how to clean leather, plastic, metal, or fabric – don’t use paper towels, napkins, or toilet paper on interior surfaces of a vehicle. Paper materials, such as these, can be counterproductive and make dirt, grim, and germs harder to clean. Instead of removing dust and germs, paper products pack the dirt tightly into crevices and fabrics.

Microfiber cloth is ideal for cleaning interior surfaces like leather upholstery, plastic dashboards, and metal seatbelts. The engineering of microfiber is perfectly suited to removing surface dirt, instead of smashing it into corners. It is designed with tiny loops that scoop out surface dirt and trap it in the micro-folds of the cloth.

Clean Leather, Upholstery, Metal, and Plastic Surfaces Before Disinfecting

According to CDC guidelines on reopening, before disinfecting, it is crucial to clean the interior surfaces of the car with soap and water. This does not apply, however, for how to clean leather or microsuede fabric. Use standard dish soap and a brush to thoroughly scrub all plastic and metal interior surfaces before whipping away any excess with a clean damp cloth

Scrubbing is a crucial part of how to clean car surfaces of coronavirus. The virus, itself, is covered in extrusions, like little arms, which latch onto surfaces. Only scrubbing with soap acts to destroy these extrusions and keep the virus from sticking to the surface. 

Be Careful with Liquid Cleaners and Follow the Instructions 

Your tendency might be to go overboard and enlist the help of bleach, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or ammonia. Do not use any of these products directly on your car's leather or fabric upholstery. And, using these products on LCD screens and touchscreens, in newer vehicles, breaks down the protective outer layer of the screen. 

If you don’t know how to clean leather upholstery and other fabric, chances are that you will err on the side of using too many disinfectant products. Too much liquid disinfectant can leave unattractive marks on the upholstery, dry and crack the leather, and produce mold and mildew over time. So, make sure you are using a COVID-19 cleanup product that is registered with the EPA, and read the instructions for diluting and applying the product to interior surfaces of the vehicle.

The Do’s and Don’ts for How to Clean Leather Seats and Upholstery

Leather is not like the hard surfaces of your car's interior. Leather requires special care and attention if you want it to retain its integrity and appeal. And, scrubbing leather often removes the dye coloring applied during the manufacturing or leather repair process. 

For leather seats and upholstery, use a warm water and soap mixture – making sure not to soak the leather. Using a clean cloth, soak up any extra soap and water solution to keep it from pooling. Once the leather is clean of dust and surface contaminants, lightly spray down the surface with an all-natural liquid disinfectant and sanitizer.

Finally, use a commercial-grade leather conditioner to prevent the leather from drying out and cracking. Degradation of leather is a serious risk when cleaning and disinfecting your car's interior on a regular or daily basis. 

Always vacuum the area to remove dust and grime that can prevent your cleaning solution from reaching the surface to be disinfected. Before treating a large area with leather cleaner, isolate a small area that is not prominently visible. Use this area to test the effects of your cleaning process. 

If you are cleaning your car's leather seats regularly, be careful not to over-condition the upholstery. The leather interior only needs to be conditioned every three to four cleanings. A good rule of thumb is to aim your cleaning schedule to dictate weekly leather conditioning. 

Make Cleaning Your Car's Interior a New Habit to Help Stop the Spread

Always test an area before cleaning a large swath of the surface. And, when scrubbing any surface, it is better to start with a gentle touch and work your way to scrubbing more forcefully, testing the durability of the material. Learning how to clean leather, plastic, and other surfaces in your car's interior are essential to stopping the spread of coronavirus through surface contact in vehicles. 

If you want to learn more about professional cleaning services for COVID-19 reopening, contact a mobile cleaner, today. And, help others learn how to clean leather and other vehicle surfaces to help stop the spread of COVID-19.