COVID-19: disinfecting a vehicle or machine after an inspection

Keeping surfaces clean plays an important role in minimizing the spreading of the COVID-19 coronavirus. This includes any surfaces on your vehicle or machine. Find out more about keeping your inventory clean during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

How long the coronavirus survives on surfaces

It has been established that the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive outside the body. How long the virus survives depends on the surface it touches. For example, COVID-19 is believed to survive up to four hours on copper and 24 hours on cardboard. However, on stainless steel and plastics the coronavirus can survive up to three days. That’s why it’s so important to keep the surfaces in your vehicle or machine clean.

Selecting the right cleaning products for your equipment

Before you start cleaning, it’s good to know which products can be applied on which surfaces. Here are a couple of products that may come in handy.

Isopropyl alcohol: best for hard surfaces

Solutions that contain 70 percent or more alcohol are effective against most bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19. They can also help remove most stains and smudges. In plants where automotive parts are produced, this solution is often used to clean parts. Just about any vehicle interior surface can be cleaned using this solution – except leather.

Soap and water: best for leather, cloth, and exterior

A good old scrub with a cloth and some soapy water will  help get rid of a lot of the germs on your leather or cloth seats. You can also use it for other surfaces in the interior and on the exterior. Don’t use too much water on the seats. If water is soaked up by the seat cushion, it can cause mold to grow and leave a nasty smell. Also always use a soft cloth and scrub surfaces gently to make sure they don’t damage. Remove any residual water or soap afterwards.

Hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes

If needed, hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes will also do the trick. When used properly, they can rid your hands of harmful bacteria and viruses, so why not your equipment? Especially in an interior or on a control panel, they’re great for a quick (but thorough!) wipedown. Just make sure that the products you use contain no chemicals that may harm the materials you’re cleaning.

What not to use

In addition to the recommended cleaning products, there are some definite no-go options out there. Here are some examples:

  • Bleach
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Ammonia
  • Rough brushes or cloths

These are just a few examples. The best advice here is to use your common sense and always read labels before applying a product.


To get maximum results with minimum effort, here are some tips to help you clean.

Start with high-touch areas

You don’t need to clean an entire vehicle or machine every time someone has taken a closer look at it. If you’ve been around to see what the potential buyer touched, you can stick to only cleaning that. If not, start with high-touch areas and work your way from there. Some surfaces to clean in particular (depending on the machine or vehicle):

  • Steering wheel, steering wheel stalks, and/or other controls;
  • radio and/or touchscreens;
  • center console armrests;
  • dashboard and center console knobs, levers, and switches;
  • door, glove compartment, and other storage compartment handles;
  • steering wheel and seat adjusters;
  • cupholders;
  • gear and handbrake levers, and
  • other switches, knobs, levers, and controls on the inside and outside.

A wipedown of the dashboard, door upholstery, center console, and seats is also a good idea after a test drive.

Be gentle

Of course you want to make sure every surface you clean will be spotless. However, as stated before, rub surfaces gently. Also use soft cloths to avoid damaging any coating or leaving scratches.

What about the air conditioner?

It’s believed that the COVID-19 coronavirus stays alive in the air for about three hours. This means it can recirculate repeatedly through an air conditioning system. Although some vehicles may be fitted with HEPA filters that may help, most aren’t. Consider using the air recirculation function as little as possible – or rather not at all. This prevents the (infected) interior air from being sucked out and blown back in the interior over and over.

Other precautions for inspections

You know how they always say that prevention is better than cure? To make your work easier and to minimize the risk of spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus, take the following precautions:

  • Tell buyers to wash their hands before an inspection.
  • Kindly request that the buyer only touches the surfaces necessary to perform a machine or vehicle inspection.
  • Does the buyer show symptoms of COVID-19? Don’t allow the buyer on your property for your own and other peoples’ safety.
  • Also read the tips for smart and safe selling in times of COVID-19.

Stay safe and healthy

Of course there’s more to fending off the COVID-19 coronavirus than keeping your inventory clean. Use these general tips to stay as safe as possible:

  • Wash or disinfect your hands regularly (preferably every hour) and after touching any surfaces.
  • Keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters from customers and coworkers, and avoid physical contact.
  • Touch your face (especially eyes, nose, and mouth) as little as possible.
  • Cough or sneeze in your elbow.
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.
  • Try to have your staff do as much work from home as possible.
  • Make sure any staff that needs to come to work follows the same procedures to prevent spreading.
  • Wipe off high-touch areas in your building, such as door handles and light switches, regularly.
  • Stay up to date on any new advice or guidelines from healthcare providers and authorities.

More on trading heavy machinery during the COVID-19 pandemic

As the smarter heavy machinery marketplace, we often provide trading tips to improve your business. In these times, we offer extra help with our COVID-19 Updates. Stay informed and stay safe!

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