Steering wheels can be dirtier than a public toilet? How dirty can a car get & how to deep clean it

While most of us opt for car washes every once in a while, to ensure a glossy exterior and to keep the interiors hygienic, there is more to maintaining a car than its annual servicing.

December 7, 2020 1:31 PM
3m car cleaning disinfection

From the daily commute to first dates, road trips, and celebrations, cars are an essential part of our lives. With a significant part of our daily routine spent in the vehicle, it is a given that the cleanliness of car interiors is crucial to our health and safety. While most of us opt for car washes every once in a while, to ensure a glossy exterior and to keep the interiors hygienic, there is more to maintaining a car than its annual servicing. After all, clean car interiors provide a safe environment for us and our loved ones.

Older cars need more attention

A well-maintained car does not always guarantee good upkeep of interiors. Even if you are a stickler for cleanliness, it is common to skip over the hard-to-reach (or seemingly clean) areas – such as headliners, crevices in seats, air vents – as it is often difficult for a non-professional to keep it pristine

However, the problem is compounded in the case of used cars. In fact, according to the Capgemini Research Institute, hygiene is a vital consideration for 75% of prospective car buyers.1 (Winkler, et al., 2020) While an older car might look well-maintained and as good as new, it is vital to consider the hygiene standards practiced by the previous owner. According to a survey by the car rental website,, around a third of car owners rarely clean their cars on the inside, while 10% of owners don’t even do that! Hence, considering the ongoing public health situation, maintaining car hygiene and cleanliness becomes a critical issue.2

3m car cleaning disinfection image

Just how dirty can a car get?

Did you know car steering wheels are 6 times dirtier than an average cell phone screen; 4 times dirtier than a public toilet seat; and 2 times dirtier than public elevator buttons3? Irregular cleaning of vehicle interiors, surfaces, and the upholstery can lead to large amounts of dirt, grime, and heavy deposits of contaminants accumulating in the car, making it a hotbed for mold and bacteria to proliferate. This is especially significant in the present times when most people are working from home or staying indoors, with their cars parked for longer periods.

Mold growth on car seats, carpets, and interiors pose a serious health issue, especially in coastal areas, or if your car is not that frequently used. It can lead to headaches and other respiratory ailments, while dust can aggravate allergies. Keeping a car clean is a difficult task – the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies accumulate everything from food crumbs to mud and grime. Air-conditioning systems can be a pain point as well, as anyone who has ever complained about foul smells from the vents will corroborate!

How do you deep-clean your car?

You can choose from a variety of vehicle cleaning products and services to enjoy the comfort and safety of a hygienic and safe car. One option is to pick up cleaning products from your local car care store and do-it-yourself (DIY). But this can be a rather time-consuming task, and it can be difficult to tackle all problem areas. Alternatively, you can check out the wide range of treatments offered by leading car care brands.

When it comes to cabin cleanliness and hygiene, you can choose from a range of interior care treatments for thorough cleaning to tackle stains, dirt, and grime collected over years of usage. But for the highest level of cleansing, it is a good idea to choose a deep-cleaning treatment such as Interior GermKleen and Car Air Care treatment from 3M, which uses specially formulated deep-foaming anti-microbial preparations that can kill 99% of germs and bacteria*. Interior cleaning solution like Car Air-Care treatment from 3M is also recommended to help deep clean your car’s air-conditioning system and ensure all critical components, such as the evaporator and vents, are duly cleaned and hygienic.

Also read: Now get your Hyundai car sanitised at company’s workshops: Prices, benefits listed!

Exterior car care treatments can make your car look and feel as good as new. Popular offerings usually include scratch and swirl removal, paint treatments, as well as polishing and waxing to get that ‘just out of the showroom’ look. In addition, you can opt for advanced paint protection coatings such as Advanced Paint Sealant, Trizact treatment, paint shine, and shield coating from 3M. For those living close to the coast or in a high-rainfall area, it’s advisable to get an underbody anti-rust treatment by 3M for years of hassle-free operation. Other treatments such as UV Protect by 3M also protect your car’s paint from getting damaged by prolonged exposure to the harsh sun.

Stay safe with a clean car

Your family deserves a clean, safe environment, whether at home or on a family road trip. Deep cleaning car interior has long been part of essential car-care. Whether it is your car, or a pre-owned one, cleaning the interiors will help in curbing any risk of contamination and especially protect children and the elderly from dust allergies and other ailments. With a wide range of car care treatments on offer today, you can simply sit back and relax, while your vehicle is washed sparkling clean to safeguard your health and safety.

*Based on internal lab tests, actual results may vary

Author: Krishna Gowdaman A, Global Platform Application Engineer- Pro care, Automotive Aftermarket Division, 3M India

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not represent those of The Indian Express Group or its employees.

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