Enhanced cleaning & disinfection guide for Turo hosts

Share your car safely while limiting the spread of COVID-19 — see how to clean & disinfect your car thoroughly before each and every Turo trip

Reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission for guests and hosts

There are two main routes of transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19: respiratory and contact. These enhanced cleaning and disinfection guidelines focus on minimizing transmission through contact, specifically on frequently touched automotive surfaces such as keys, exterior door handles, trunk latches, and vehicle interiors. 

While it is not currently known with certainty how long the coronavirus survives on surfaces, a recent study published by the National Institutes of Health suggests that SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19) can last up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Therefore, to reduce transmission, it is vitally important that all frequently touched vehicle surfaces be properly cleaned and disinfected before and between trips.

The difference between cleaning & disinfecting

According to the Centers for Disease Control

Cleaning refers to the removal of dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces. Cleaning alone does not kill germs, but removing germs decreases their volume and therefore the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting works by using chemicals, like EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. Disinfecting doesn’t necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but killing germs remaining on a surface after cleaning further reduces the risk of spreading infection.

How to clean & disinfect your car’s interior

The CDC has published broad guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting various types of surfaces — porous, semi-porous, and non-porous — but because some of the guidelines recommend disinfectants that may discolor or damage delicate materials found in automotive interiors, Turo has compiled recommendations from the CDC, EPA, and car detailing experts on how to safely clean and disinfect vehicle interiors.

Before you start

Protect yourself by wearing disposable gloves and an approved face covering, and avoid touching your face during the cleaning process.

Familiarize yourself with the porosity of common materials found in automotive interiors so that you can clean and disinfect them appropriately.

Get acquainted with frequently touched “hot spots” in a vehicle — surfaces with increased risk of contact transmission. Take special care to clean and disinfect these areas thoroughly to reduce the spread and transmission of COVID-19.

Gather the supplies recommended for proper cleaning and disinfecting.

Porosity of materials commonly found in automotive interiors

Porous

Carpeting

Upholstery fabric

Foam and insulation

Leather

Semi-porous

Soft plastics & vinyl

Hardwood surfaces

Non-porous

Glass

Metal

Hard plastics

Vinyl flooring

Most painted surfaces

Most automotive rubber

Vehicle “hot spots” (frequently touched surfaces)

  • Exterior door handles & trunk latches
  • Interior door handles
  • Sun visors
  • Rearview mirror
  • Steering wheel
  • Cup holder
  • Seat belts
  • Gear selector
  • Infotainment & temperature controls
  • All other switches (seat and mirror adjustments, windows, lights, turn signals, etc.)
  • Air vents
  • Gas cap
  • Keys & key fob

Recommended cleaning and disinfectant supplies

Cleaning supplies

  • Disposable gloves
  • Approved face covering
  • Soap-and-water based interior cleaning spray (consult your manufacturer's instructions for recommended cleaning solutions)
  • Soft bristle brushes
  • Scrubber sponge
  • Paper towels
  • Microfiber towels
  • Shop vac
  • Portable upholstery cleaner (optional)

Disinfectant supplies

Diluted alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, or EPA-registered household disinfectants. Although the CDC recommends using diluted bleach solutions for disinfecting, these solutions can discolor and damage delicate vehicle interior materials and should be avoided for most car interiors. Please consult your manufacturer’s instructions for more details on recommended disinfectants.

Step 1: Clean

Open the vehicle’s doors and windows to air out the car before you start cleaning, and leave them open during the cleaning process if you can.

Clean from top to bottom, starting with sun visors, rearview mirror, etc., moving down toward the dash, steering wheel, center console, and seats, and then down to the floor to avoid contaminating surfaces as you clean. Pay special attention to the frequently touched “hot spots”.

Clean interior non-porous and semi-porous surfaces with soap and water, being careful to avoid radios, gauges, or any electrical components — wipe those down with your multipurpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth.

Vacuum interior porous surfaces like car seats and carpet, or use car upholstery cleaner.

Be careful with leather and fabrics. 

Always read labels and be mindful of using high-strength cleaners or products with alcohol on delicate materials. Keep an eye out for safe multipurpose interior cleaners available at auto parts stores or online.

Don't forget headliners. 

When it comes to cleaning headliners, avoid using a vacuum — you could accidentally cut a hole or detach the fabric from the adhesive underneath. Try using a rag and your multipurpose interior cleaner or a fabric/carpet cleaner like Angelwax Absolution.

Do a deep-clean shampooing periodically.

Spray your soap and water mixture directly onto non-porous and semi-porous materials and gently agitate with a small soft-bristled brush to create a lather, then wipe up excess lather with a microfiber towel until dry and repeat as necessary. Clean interior porous surfaces with an automotive upholstery cleaner, scrub gently and blot dry using a microfiber towel. If available, use a portable upholstery cleaner to speed up the cleaning process and remove excess moisture from the porous surfaces.

Step 2: Disinfect

Make sure your vehicle interior is cool before applying any disinfectant. Applying disinfectant to warm or hot surfaces increases evaporation and reduces the “wet” or “dwell/contact time” of the disinfectant, reducing its ability to kill viruses.

Refer to the "contact time" or "dwell time" on the disinfectant’s instructions; the surface must stay wet for the entire dwell or contact time to kill germs effectively.

Apply the disinfectant, moving from top to bottom, according to the instruction label, paying special attention to frequently touched “hot spots”.

Don’t let wipes dry out. 

Disinfecting surface wipes can dry out over time and must be wet to be effective.

Be sure to use disinfecting — not “cleaning” — wipes. 

"Cleaning" wipes (that are not clearly marked “disinfecting”) neither disinfect nor kill viruses, and are not registered by the EPA.

Step 3: Finish up

Clean and disinfect the key/key fob and place it on a clean surface.

Remove gloves and any other protective gear and properly dispose of it in the trash. Gloves should not be reused.

Wash your hands immediately after removing gloves with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

For your guests*

Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer (with at least 70% alcohol content) and a package of disinfecting wipes for use throughout the trip to minimize the spread of germs.

Download and print the "Guest card" (available in the "Resources" section below) and leave one in your car after you clean and disinfect and before each trip to help make your guests feel safe and confident in your car.

* Please note these are recommendations, not requirements.

A pro detailer's guide to disinfecting car interiors

The pro detailers at AMMO NYC aggregate tips and best practices from the EPA, CDC, and WHO on how to clean and disinfect car interiors without damaging them.

Resource center

Download this hot spot checklist to help guide you as you clean. Also, be sure to download the guest card to leave in the car after you clean to reassure your guests that it’s been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

Download hot spot checklistDownload mobile checklistDownload guest card

Stay safe, stay healthy

Turo strongly recommends that hosts follow these guidelines to promote healthy car sharing practices for the whole Turo community.

Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities — Interim Recommendations for U.S. Community Facilities with Suspected/Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

EPA Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 — List of products on this list meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

EPA Coronavirus Site — All EPA recommendations for COVID-19

NIH Coronavirus Site — The latest research information from the National Institutes of Health

World Health Organization — Coronavirus site

The following resources were consulted to formulate these official guidelines for Turo hosts.

Sources
  • Disinfecting spray
  • Disinfecting wipes