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HEALTH| 16.11.2020

Coronavirus: how to keep your car air conditioning system clean and healthy

Marta Villalba

Esteban Viso

Cleaning is a vital factor in combating the coronavirus pandemic. On a personal level, hand hygiene (washing and disinfection), wearing a mask and social distancing are the three key steps to protect yourself from the spread of the virus.

In addition, it is essential to maintain the cleanliness of your home and workplace, as well as public facilities including public transport vehicles, in order to minimize the risks when we leave the home. Moreover, just as important is the need to thoroughly clean your car.

When cleaning your car, you must be careful to keep your vehicle clean both outside and inside, making sure to include all surfaces you have direct contact with (such as the dashboard, steering wheel and car controls, doors, seats and upholstery, and any others). In addition, one area you must pay particular attention to is the air conditioning system.

The car’s climate control system (or air conditioning system), as well as all the circuits and vents within it, are a common place for dirt to build up. The air conditioning system, with all its vents and ducts, can be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Now, with the spread of COVID-19, keeping it clean could be a critical factor in protecting the health of the driver and passengers.

The pandemic has made us all more aware of the need to keep everyday objects properly sanitized. With your car, it’s not just a case of keeping it clean inside and outside—as would be expected—you also need to spend time every now and again doing a deep clean of many of the inner parts, especially the air conditioning or climate control system, making sure to disinfect these properly.

 

Disinfecting the air conditioning system

Naturally, the air conditioning system circulates air around the passenger compartment, so passengers will be exposed to any viruses present (along with any bacteria or fungi) as these are also circulated. That’s why it is necessary to disinfect the vents and ducts at least every six months.

These systems are not the most accessible so they can be tricky to clean by yourself. However, with enough patience, time and the right product, you can do a good job of it by yourself without having to get specialist help.

It is very important to use the appropriate products for each task. Just as you wouldn’t use bleach or similar products to clean the plastic surfaces or upholstery inside the car, you also need to be careful to choose the right product for cleaning the air vents.

A step-by-step guide to disinfecting the air conditioning system

To begin the disinfection process, you must first clean any dust or dirt that has built up inside the air vents. Do this using a foam brush and a mixture of warm water and white vinegar. Armed with the foam brush, you then need to patiently clean all the fan vent grilles.

The next step, before disinfecting, is to completely dry the car (in other words, remove as much moisture as possible from the environment, especially from the internal components). To do this, run the heater at a high temperature for a few minutes. Then, it’s best to get out of the car until you turn the heater back off.

There are two options for applying disinfectant. Firstly, you can buy a canister of disinfectant with a very long nozzle, which is perfect for reaching the product as deeply as possible into the air conditioning vents.

To apply the disinfectant properly, you should first remove the interior or anti-pollen filter and replace them with new ones, as the old ones could be a potential source of infection. After removing the old filters, put the covers back on. Don’t install the new filters until the end of the process.

In order to close the circuit as much as possible, we must switch on the air recirculation system and close all the grilles. Next, turn off the system and open only the central grilles (the main ones, just to be clear), as this is where we will apply the product, trying to get it as deep as possible. Then, close each grille and move on to the next one, until you have disinfected all the air vents.

When that’s done, leave the product to work for the time indicated by the manufacturer (at most half an hour), and then it’s time to evaporate the product. To do this, start the engine and set the air conditioning or climate control system to the highest possible temperature with all the vents open as far as possible. The disinfectant will then evaporate and the process is finished.

After a few minutes, when everything has fully evaporated, you will need to properly ventilate the car, opening the windows and allowing the outside air to fully circulate (you can now turn off the engine). All that is left to do is fit the new filters, and your car’s ventilation system will be disinfected.

If you decide to use a spray product, which is the other type available to buy, all you have to do is closely follow the instructions provided with the product. The most common instructions are to apply the product inside the car and turn on the air conditioning (without the heater) on full power, then ensure that all the doors and windows are fully closed for the length of time indicated by the manufacturer’s instructions. Obviously, you should not remain inside the vehicle during this stage.

Next, you have to ventilate the vehicle well, leaving the doors and/or windows open. Once this is done, the process is complete.

The specialized repair shop, a place you can trust

En los tiempos que corren, muchas personas tienen dudas acerca de la seguridad que pueden encontrar en diversos locales, desde tiendas de barrio, pasando por supermercados o grandes superficies, hasta los talleres de reparaciones.

Para arrojar luz sobre cómo se adaptan los talleres a las nuevas circunstancias de la pandemia, Cesvimap publicó recientemente un extenso artículo en el que se explican muy bien todas las medidas y protocolos aplicados en el sector, «protocolos diseñados específicamente para hacer compatibles las diferentes actividades del negocio y el cuidado de la salud».

Aparte de que los protocolos existan y se apliquen de manera efectiva, los clientes deben poder comprobar, de un vistazo, que en dicho taller se ejecutan las medidas oportunas porque esa es la clave para generar confianza.