Driving only when you need to is the new norm, but there are still journeys judged to be necessary. There are also many people working in essential services who need their cars. Here's a guide to trying to keep your car (or other vehicle) Covid-19 free.

According to Skoda's chief physician, Dr. Jana Parmova, the main rule is to minimise contact with others but if a journey has to be made, then protect yourself.

"Ideally don't go anywhere. If you have to go somewhere, go alone – don’t share the car with anyone. If you have to go with someone, make sure that the person does not have acute symptoms of respiratory illness. Use a respirator or at least a facemask. Make sure you have the contact details of all the other passengers so that you can track them down if you find out you’re infected," she says.

She reminds people that it’s important to keep in mind that even if a car is a kind of mobile isolation unit that allows you to minimise contact with others on necessary journeys like shopping for food, medicine or other essentials, travelling by car is not risk-free. She has the following tips:

DISINFECT:

If you can’t avoid coming into contact with others and going somewhere by car, pay thorough attention to preventive hygiene measures.

"Disinfect all the surfaces you touch before and after the journey, especially if you’re sharing the car with someone or gave someone a lift," Doctor Parmová says.

PARTS OF THE INTERIOR YOU SHOULD DISINFECT.

Take this cleaning very seriously: disinfecting the steering wheel, gearstick, handbrake, door handles, radio and infotainment controls would occur to everyone, but don’t forget the stalks on the steering column (indicators and windscreen wipers, cruise control), elbow rests, seat position controls, door frames and exterior door handles or luggage compartment handle. These principles are even more important for taxi drivers and other drivers who transport passengers.

What should you use to disinfect the car? The Consumer Reports organisation, for example, advises using some of the cleaning products you already have at home. At least seventy per cent alcohol solution is effective against coronavirus, and isopropyl alcohol won’t do the main surfaces in your car any harm. In fact, it’s what carmakers and their subcontractors use to disinfect parts. To increase your peace of mind, Consumer Reports says you can use alcohol to wipe down the seat upholstery and other soft surfaces in the car. But be careful not to soak them through.

Alcohol should not damage either leather or imitation leather upholstery, but excessively intensive cleaning with alcohol can discolour the material: so don’t scrub the seats and other leather surfaces too hard. After cleaning, though, leather surfaces in the car should be treated with leather protection products.

Never use hydrogen peroxide, for example, which will most likely damage the car’s surfaces. Don’t use cleaning products containing ammonium on touch screens in the car, Consumer Reports advises. Micro-fibre cloths are ideal for cleaning all surfaces and for all cleaning methods.

IMMEDIATELY WASH HANDS OR DISINFECT THEM AFTER FILLING YOUR CAR WITH FUEL:

If you absolutely have to go somewhere by car, it's highly likely that you'll need to buy fuel sooner or later. Don’t forget to be very careful about hygiene at petrol stations. Minimise contact with the staff. Choose a self-service filling station if you can. After filling up your car, immediately wash your hands or at least disinfect them with a hand disinfectant solution – you should have a sufficient quantity of these in your car.

Ideally, use one of the modern methods for paying for your fuel: payment by contactless card or mobile phone, for example. Some petrol stations let you use contactless payment methods right at the pump, so you don’t need to go inside the shop.

And incidentally, another way to reduce risk is by making sure the tank is full, so you don’t need to go back to the petrol station soon after.

Although some of the measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus might seem drastic and excessive, care and caution are paramount. The more we respect these measures, the more we reduce the risk of the infection spreading, and the sooner we can get our lives back to normal. So be considerate, minimise contact with others and journeys by car as much as possible, don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly and use disinfectant.

Toyota Ireland says you don't need a full valet to keep your car germ-free and advises that to clean a car without damaging any leather or materials within the car, bleach-free antibacterial wipes are required, ensuring that the packing says it 'kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses’. A pair of gloves and a dry microfibre cloth are also required.

The key thing is to ensure to wipe the area at least twice in a forward and backwards motion to ensure it is cleaned completely. Then the area can be dried with the microfibre cloth.

Toyota advises washing your hands for at least 20 seconds after cleaning your car and has a list of key areas to be cleaned. However, you really should clean any other parts of the car after touching. For example, the oil cap if you have to add oil to the engine.

Areas to clean in your car:

  1. Exterior door handles
  2. Frame of door and roof
  3. Inner door release
  4. Window switches
  5. Interior door handle
  6. Door pocket
  7. Seatbelts
  8. Seatbelt clips
  9. Seat adjust buttons
  10. Steering wheel
  11. Horn
  12. Control stalks
  13. Driver air vents
  14. Dashboard
  15. Power button
  16. Gear shift
  17. Multimedia screen
  18. Central air vents
  19. Heating controls
  20. Glovebox
  21. Log book
  22. Central storage compartment
  23. Cupholders
  24. Rear-view mirror
  25. Interior lights
  26. Grab handle
  27. Key
  28. Head rests
  29. Seat pockets.