COVID-19 Vehicle Decontamination
While “stay at home” is the operative instruction for all Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, many fleet drivers must risk using their vehicles as an “essential” service or for other urgent needs. Fortunately, there are steps they can take to reduce the risk of a contagion by always remembering to take a few preventive steps.
Here are five simple steps that should be part of a driver safety fleet policy:
Alcohol Wipes/Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers
The most effective weapon against the coronavirus, according to the CDC, is alcohol. Most other chemicals are either too harsh for a car’s interior surface or too toxic to use inside a car’s cabin or both. The CDC specifies concentrations of 70% or higher and ethanol should be 60% or higher. Although hand sanitizers, such as Purelle, have the proper alcohol concentration, they contain glycerin and other ingredients harmful to touchscreens.
Due to the shortage of sanitizing wipes, you can easily make your own hand sanitizer or sanitizer-infused wipes. Mix together 3/4 cup of isopropyl or rubbing alcohol (99 percent); a 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel (NOT for use on vehicle hard plastic surfaces, including touchscreens); and 10 drops of essential oil or lemon juice.
Applying a disinfectant for 30 seconds is the recommended to disinfect a surface; however, leather, porous vinyl, clear plastics, small painted icons on controls, etc., should not be oversaturated or scrubbed to avoid damage. For leather, use a leather conditioner to counteract the disinfectant.
The types of wipes is an important consideration, too. Avoid paper towels, facial tissue or other paper products for cleaning screens, plastics and other interior surfaces. They can leave scratches. Instead, use 100% cotton.
Benzalkonium chloride Antibacterial Wipes kill 99.99% of germs, but the coronavirus isn’t a germ. As a result, the CDC indicates that benzalkonium chloride isn’t as effective as alcohol.
Regardless of the method you choose to disinfect a vehicle, drivers should consider wearing gloves. Nitrile, latex, or vinyl gloves provide an added layer of protection.