The coronavirus is changing the way we live, drive and transport ourselves. If you are wondering if it is safe to buy a used car and how to disinfect vehicles, we have answers for you. Here is some guidance from experts on how to protect against coronavirus Covid-19 and how disinfection may become a differentiator for mobility and used-car sales.
How Can You Disinfect a Car Against Covid-19?
The minute you open a car door or window it allows germs to enter your vehicle. What happens if you have to transport a sick friend or family member to medical care?
“If a vehicle has been used to transport someone with the flu or coronavirus, it’s not a bad idea to disinfect specific surfaces they touched (like the seat belt buckle) or any surfaces they coughed or sneezed on (like the dash). Disinfecting the entire vehicle is probably overkill,” says Erica Marie Hartmann, PhD, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Northwestern University and environmental microbiologist.
The best way to disinfect surfaces is with 70% alcohol. Be careful with other cleaning products (like bleach, which may cause discolouration of fabrics or corrosion of metals) reports Hartmann.
Finding a 70% solution of alcohol, however, may be a problem, a bottle that normally sells for around a dollar to two dollars is being sold online at Amazon against price gouging laws for over $14.00 while eBay sellers are showing near retail prices but adding on $8.00-$25.00 shipping fees.
Most online drugstores and local drugstores are out of stock for alcohol in the Los Angeles area.
What Auto Service Disinfects Coronavirus?
The good news is that in the U.S., AutoNation service centres are offering a service that disinfects car interiors. The sanitizing service is called PrecisionCare Powered by Clorox Total 360 and costs $29.99.
According to the CloroxPro website Clorox Total 360 Disinfectant Cleaner is eligible to be used against coronavirus causing COVID-19 based on the EPA’s Emerging Viral Pathogen Guidance. The precision sprayer charges the droplets causing them to stick to surfaces with a force greater than gravity. The disinfectant spreads over and around surfaces.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Clorox increased production of Total 360 devices and Total 360 Disinfectant Cleaner.
A service centre technician at an AutoNation service centre told Auto Futures “Once customers find out about the service they want it. It’s odourless and dries quickly.”
The service covers the interior of the vehicle including steering wheel, cup holders, seatbelts, gearshifts, infotainment system, dashboard, handle buttons and child car seat. It also reduces odours. It is available at many AutoNation service centres with a Los Angeles-based centre reporting a recent steady flow of customers. The service can also be performed on vehicles not purchased at AutoNation retailers.
Why You Should Stick with Electrostatic Disinfection
Another provider of electrostatic spraying equipment is EMist.
“Spraying and wiping is not effective. Basically, what happens is you can’t see if every area has been wiped and then the same cloth is being used again to wipe another area and may infect the other area.” says Doug Morrell, Chief Marketing, Officer EMist, “With electrostatic spraying, opposites attract and it actually wraps around areas.”
“It’s like the chemical is on steroids and it’s much more effective. It sticks better to surfaces when it’s electrostatic. EMist also allows for better coverage,” adds Morrell.
EMist sprayers features water-soluble products including over 270 chemicals listed by the EPA for coronavirus disinfection. They provide disinfection at the rate of up to 54,000 square feet per hour.
There is a great demand for EMist products, EMist sprayers are being used from Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. to the State of Washington. The good news is that since the devices are made domestically as of March 18, they will have a product available April 16th when the EMist EPix 360 an 8-Ounce hand sprayer that is about the size of a drill will be available, says Morrell.
The company also offers the EMist EM360 BackPack and Roller Cart Electrostatic Sprayers. Many airlines and EMS providers and one of the largest groups that perform live concerts are interested in EMist. The founder of EMist, Mike Sides, has spoken to conferences at the World Health Organization about electrostatic disinfection.
“Bacteria and viruses are everywhere in vehicles, but most of them are not bad and some may even be good.”
Germs are very prevalent in cars and even more in rideshare vehicles. Rideshares averaged almost three times more germs than a toothbrush holder. Toilet seats and coffee reservoirs both contained fewer microorganisms than rideshares and rental cars, reported a study by NetQuote.
In fact, Uber and Lyft, in response to the pandemic, have suspended their carpooling features.
Electrostatic disinfection can be a differentiator for used vehicle sales as well as mobility services, says Roger C. Lanctot, Director of Automotive Connected Mobility at Strategy Analytics.
“People who are buying a car are predisposed to want to have their own space. Including disinfection in the sales offer will be a higher attractor to a buyer than a clear coat package or other add-ons,” says Lanctot.
“Everybody has the willies, it’s not a rational thing, since the coronavirus and if a mobility company were to offer disinfection as part of their product it would be a great marketing opportunity,” adds Lanctot.
The cost of the electrostatic systems, however, could be an obstacle: the cordless handheld EPIX360 Electrostatic Disinfectant Sprayer sells for $1495 and the EMist backpack and roller cart are priced $4195. The Clorox Total 360 electrostatic sprayer is being sold through cleaning distributors for $5999.
In the meantime, the cheapest safety option for drivers, passengers and riders is still hand washing.
“Bacteria and viruses are everywhere in vehicles, but most of them are not bad and some may even be good. However, if you are sick, it is always a good idea to exercise precaution to avoid spreading an infection. If you must travel, wash your hands frequently and cover your coughs and sneezes,” advises Hartmann.