Although people are traveling for recreation a little less right now, they still need to get where they need to go. Healthcare, food service, and retail workers need to get to and from shifts, and family members need to check in on loved ones at the hospital. As a TLC driver, you are an essential worker. But essential workers may also be some of the first people exposed to illness. To keep yourself and your passengers safe, we have compiled these tips for sanitizing your car between passengers.
How Illness Spreads
To understand how to best sanitize your car to prevent illness, you first need to understand how illness spreads. Research on COVID-19 is still ongoing, but according to the current research from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, since COVID-19 is a respiratory condition, it primarily spreads through the air on droplets that others can inhale. Although respiratory droplets are the primary transmission source, the virus can also remain on surfaces for hours or even days. This becomes a problem when a person touches a contaminated surface and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes, so the CDC still recommends frequently cleaning surfaces and hands.
With these things in mind, there are several strategies we can recommend to help keep your taxi, limousine, or NYC TLC rental car safe.
It’s worth noting here that “cleaning” a surface is different from “disinfecting” or “sanitizing” one. To clean something is to make it free of trash, dirt, or grime. It involves removing germs from the surface. On the other hand, sanitizing involves destroying the germs that are on the surface. For most TLC drivers, keeping your car free of trash is a given. After all, a driver in a clean car will usually get a higher rating than a driver in a dirty one. If you haven’t already made this a practice, this is the time to start.
Even if you do already keep your car tidy, regularly cleaning surfaces with soap and water to remove dirt is important when it comes to disinfecting. The CDC recommends cleaning a surface before you disinfect it to remove most of the germs before taking the step to kill the germs that remain on your car surfaces. Keeping surfaces clean will make your sanitizing efforts more effective.
Focus and Frequency
As a TLC driver, you have no way of knowing if the person getting in your car is positive for COVID-19 or if they are vulnerable to it. You will want to do your best to protect the latter from the former. With this in mind, and because COVID-19 can remain on your surfaces for extended periods of time, it is necessary to sanitize between every passenger. When you sanitize, you will want to focus on frequently touched areas such as doorknobs, seat belt buckles, dashboards, and even the sides of the doors. You may want to consider cleaning the seats as well. Depending on the material your seat is made of, you may consider using a misting spray to cover your seats easily.
Precautions While Cleaning
Having to disinfect so frequently can be tedious, and it’s easy to become careless while doing so, but it’s important to be alert and take precautions as you clean, such as wearing gloves. Even as you’re wearing gloves, you should understand that, although the gloves prevent germs from touching the skin of your hands, germs will remain on the outside of the gloves themselves. If you don’t change your gloves, you still run the risk of spreading the germs you cleaned to other places. This includes yourself. As we mentioned, the most common way that illness spreads via surfaces is when someone touches an infected surface and then touches their face. If you aren’t mindful of what you’re touching while you’re wearing gloves, you can run the risk of negating their effect.
Keep Cleaning/Sanitizing Supplies in the Car
Because you will be cleaning and sanitizing your car frequently, keep the necessary supplies in your car. If you work for a rideshare service, such as Lyft or Uber, you may be able to get cleaning materials through them. If you are buying your own supplies, keep in mind that not all cleaners work equally well, and not all cleaners are as effective on all surfaces. Your seats may need a different cleaner than your radio or the door handles, for instance. Review the EPA’s list of recommended car disinfectants. The CDC has also recommended diluted bleach solutions and alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, but be sure to read the label of any product to make sure that you are using it correctly.
Also, consider what you are using to clean with. A best practice is to use paper towels to clean so that you can throw them away immediately after you finish using them. If you are using a towel or rag, be aware that germs could still live in it. If you are using towels, keep enough towels to change frequently, and bag towels that you’ve already used. You should always wash and disinfect your hands after cleaning as well.
As we mentioned before, COVID-19 spreads primarily through the air. An underutilized but crucial way of preventing its spread is to think about how air travels in your car. If you can, keep the windows open to allow air to ventilate, and allow the car doors and windows to remain open between passengers while you disinfect to allow the air to circulate out. Also, be mindful of how you set your car’s air vents—try to set them to circulate fresh air into the car instead of recirculating it.
Awareness is the most important thing at times like these. Being aware of how COVID-19 spreads and what is happening in your car will help you make the right choices when it comes to sanitizing your car between passengers. By being diligent in your precautions, you can help slow the spread of COVID-19, keep yourself and your passengers safe, and still perform your essential role in the community.