By Michael LaMotta, Contributing Writer
We have all been increasing the frequency at which we sterilize high contact areas in our homes. What about our vehicles? What about the vehicles your shop works on?
Even before the coronavirus pandemic heightened our collective consciousness of germs, there was some disturbing data disclosed by CarRentals.com comparing the colony-forming units (CFUs) on parts of a vehicle’s interior to other common “high touch” areas. Leading the list of gag-inducing statistics: your steering wheel is up to four times dirtier than a public toilet seat! You remember that thing you used to wrap your bare hands around multiple times a day, often while carrying your morning coffee up to your mouth?
Gear shift handles and trunks are even worse, and not far behind the steering wheel in bacteria-laden CFUs is the cupholder. These interior vehicle surfaces, on average, are six times dirtier than an average cell phone screen. You’ve likely been wiping that down more often in recent months, as well.
High-touch points in our vehicles extend far beyond the steering wheel. We touch the door handles, the radio, the glove box, the seatbelts, the arm rest and more. There are countless surfaces where the hazards of contamination create risk.
As such, we are seeing a surge in antimicrobial treatment sales.
Germs can be found on a car’s buttons and knobs. It settles in the vents and works its way into the crevices and cracks that you can’t get to with normal detailing equipment. Steam cleaning a vehicle can remove upholstery stains and terrible odors, but what about the germs — those nasty CFUs? Applied to new and pre-owned vehicle interiors, antimicrobial treatments are designed to eliminate and protect against pathogens and fungi that can transmit illnesses.
Antimicrobial treatments must become a priority. As an industry, we need to take every precaution to ensure the health and safety of our employees and customers. Customers want to know their vehicle is safe to drive off and fill with their families.
We owe it to our customers to ensure that we are doing our part to help keep them safe, but that doesn’t mean we need to use dangerous chemicals to keep germs at bay. Make sure the protection you provide is an antimicrobial surface protectant that permanently bonds to treated surfaces and provides long-term, chemical-free protection.
There is a rush to meet this growing need in the industry, and a wide variety of products becoming available. Make sure your shop uses a product that is EPA-registered as a Category IV low-toxicity disinfectant, requiring no warning labels and no PPE. This type of broad-spectrum antimicrobial is economical, ready-to-use and lets you disinfect and deodorize — all in one easy step.
Harmful microbes and bacteria can remain on some surfaces for 24+ hours, or even days if wet. Thus, a durable coating that is bonded to the surface and physically kills microbes indiscriminately is valuable to a front-line defense against harmful microbes and the next wave of new or mutating harmful microbes. While a topical interior cleaning has always been a good car-care practice, it is now imperative to make sure the vehicles being worked on are free from any viruses so we can get drivers back on the open road safely.