Cleaning & disinfection guide for Turo hosts

See how to properly clean and disinfect your car before each and every Turo trip

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 a 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 germs.

Gather the supplies recommended for proper cleaning and disinfecting.

Porosity of materials commonly found in automotive interiors



Upholstery fabric

Foam and insulation



Soft plastics & vinyl

Hardwood surfaces




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
  • 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, to avoid contaminating surfaces as you clean. Pay special attention to the frequently touched “hot spots”.

Wipe down 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 effectiveness of the disinfectant.

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. 

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 cleaning checklist (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 the checklist to help guide you as you clean, and leave it in the car afterwards to reassure your guests that it’s been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

Download cleaning checklistDownload mobile checklist

Keep a clean machine

It’s important to share clean cars so your guests can hit the road feeling confident and comfortable. We appreciate your commitment to keeping your cars sparkling clean!

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