As children in Arizona gradually head back to their classrooms, parents will again begin leaning on other parents to transport their precious cargo back and forth to school. Any other school year, carpool parents might be concerned with things like establishing rules around whether or not it’s okay to eat food in the vehicle and making sure all children are wearing their seatbelts. They’d typically be aware of timing and ensuring kids are picked up and dropped off before the morning bell rings. This year, however, parents who participate in school carpools have these concerns plus a new concern: carpool sanitization and safety amidst COVID-19.

Parents who are re-engaging in carpool rotations this school year can ease their concerns by following these five suggestions to create a safer riding experience for all of those onboard! 

5 carpool sanitization and safety steps, a checklist for carpool parents

1. Protect yourself. Wear disposable gloves and a face mask while cleaning your vehicle before and after you’ve picked up and dropped off the children at school. Roll all of the windows down during the vehicle sanitization process to keep air circulating and be sure not to touch your face with your disposable glove. Wash your hands after removing the gloves. If you need to fuel up before picking up children, take precaution by using a disposable glove while handling the gas pump and keypads at gas stations or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol afterwards.

2. Apply properly. Make sure to wipe any dirt and debris off before you apply a cleaning product to your vehicle’s interior surfaces. Depending on the surface, you can use disinfectant wipes, a soft cloth or microfiber cloth to dampen with an effective cleaning product. After you’ve finished disinfecting, toss the cloth in your washing machine. Do not use the same cleaning cloth twice.

3. Use appropriate cleaning products. Solutions that contain at least 70% alcohol are effective against coronavirus according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disinfectant wipes work well on the inside surfaces of your vehicle and a mixture of laundry detergent and water can be used on fabric seats. Do not use bleach, hydrogen peroxide, benzene, thinners of other harsh and abrasive cleaners to sanitize the cabin of your vehicle. Although it can be used on other surfaces to get rid of the virus, it will damage the interior of a vehicle.

Since leather and leather-like interiors have a protective coating, over time cleaning it with alcohol can leave the material susceptible to damage and discoloration. You may want to consider a milder solution of soap and water combined with a leather conditioner. For soft or porous surfaces, such as fabric seats, The Centers for Disease Control recommends removing any visible contamination then cleaning with products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19.

4. Spend extra time on high-touch areas. Be sure to thoroughly disinfect high-touch surfaces of your vehicle such as the dashboard, radio knobs, turning signals, gear shift and steering wheel. Give extra cleaning attention to the interior and exterior door handles, power window and lock controls, armrests, HVAC vents, cupholders and seatbelts. You should also frequently sanitize your vehicle key fob with a disinfectant wipe before and after your carpool trips.

5. Ride safe. A properly sanitized vehicle is a solid start to a safer carpool experience for children and parents alike, but don’t forget to follow your cleaning regimen with safe riding practices! You and the onboard children (over the age of two) should wear face coverings, and if possible, crack open the windows of your vehicle during the trip. You should also ensure that your vehicle is not recirculating air, but instead bringing in air from the outdoors. Try using voice recognition instead of touchscreen as another way to keep the virus from reaching surfaces inside your vehicle.

Larry H. Miller Dealerships operates more than 60 dealership locations under 20 automotive brands in seven western states. The group has 13 Arizona locations, including nine in Phoenix and four in Tucson.