Is My Car Making Me Sick?
Yes, your car could be making your sick. The inside of your car could contain some of the dirtiest air you will breathe all day. This contaminated air can have a very negative impact on your health and the health of your family members.
Americans spend on average about one hour per day in their automobile. Over a year’s time, that adds up to almost 400 hours spent trapped inside your car with all sorts of pollutants including, car exhaust gases, pollen and other allergens, road dust, smog, and VOC’s emanating from your car’s inside surfaces.
Clean Your Car’s Interior First
There are several steps you can take to try to improve the air inside your car. This goes without saying, but the first thing you need to do is a thorough cleaning. Dust, dirt, allergens, VOC’s, exhaust gases, cigarette smoke, and many other contaminates build up over time. These pollutants stick to all the inside surfaces of your car and bury themselves into the carpeting and upholstery fabrics.
The inside surface of windshield and cabin interior roof are often overlooked areas when it comes to cleaning inside your car. You want to clean ALL surfaces to get as many contaminates out of your car as possible.
Check this article out for green cleaning techniques on various surfaces:
8 Tips to Keep Your Car from Making You Sick
After you have done a complete clean on your car’s interior, here are a few things that you can do to help keep it clean.
Clean Tip #1 – Drive with windows up. Almost everything bad for you inside your car came from outside your car. By keeping your windows closed, you prevent outside pollutants from re-coating your auto’s interior surfaces. It is a good practice to open your windows for a few moments to ventilate the interior from time to time on long drives but keep your windows closed in heavy, stop-and-go traffic.
Clean Tip #2 – Change your car’s cabin air filter. Almost all modern automobiles have a cabin air filter. This important little filter removes dust, pollen, and other particulate matter from the air as it is brought in from the outside via your vehicle’s ventilation system.
Most of the time, they will be located just behind the glove box. Check your owner’s manual if you are not sure where your filter is located.
It pays to purchase a higher-end filter and to change it regularly. How often? At a minimum, once a year unless you are very sensitive to pollen and dust. Have your auto service dealer change it at every oil change if you fall into that later category.
Clean Tip #3 – Don’t use air fresheners of any kind. All of these types of products put chemicals into air that you don’t need to be breathing and could be making you sick. This includes essential oils. You can read about how essential oils should be avoided in this article:
Clean Tip #4 – Don’t let anyone smoke in your car. Cigarettes spew out a ton of dangerous contaminates that tend to stick to any surface they come into contact with. To really be thorough about keeping your car’s air as clean as possible, try to avoid smokers altogether. They carry smoke particles and other VOCs all over their clothing. These pollutants can easily transfer to your car’s surfaces and negatively affect the air quality inside your car.
Clean Tip #5 – Use rubber or plastic floor mats and clean them regularly. You really can’t avoid bringing into your car all manner of dirt and pollutants by way of your shoes. Carpet floor mats just soak up all that contaminant as it is wiped from your shoes as you get in and out of the car, sitting in the car, and as you are driving.
Rubber floor mats are easy to remove and clean. They are much easier to clean than those carpet mats folks enjoy so much. There are some very good quality auto floor mats on the market these days. Invest in a good set to improve air quality in your car.
Cleaning floor mats regularly, no matter what type you have, will play a big part in keeping dirt and other particulate from building up in your vehicle. Routine cleaning is key here.
Clean Tip #6 – Keep carpets dry to prevent mold. Water can enter your vehicle in several ways, through the windows left down in a rainstorm, wet shoes, spilled drinks, etc. One source of water that you may not have considered in through the air conditioner condenser inside the dash of your car.
Normally, water that condenses on the cold coils of the AC system is directed outside of your car. If these pathways become clogged, that water can end up inside your car’s interior and under your carpet.
Water leaks from the heater core are not uncommon either with the results being the same. Wet carpet can foster mold growth. Periodically check for dampness, particularly up under the dash areas.
Clean Tip #7 – Keep pets out of your car. Pets are notorious for their dander. Pet dander is a major source of allergic reactions in humans. Their fur can collect and redeposit contaminates inside your car if they are given free rein to run about inside your auto.
If you do need to transport a pet, there are a couple of things you can do to mitigate the negative effects on your car’s interior air quality. First, if it is possible, give your pet a bath before the trip. Brush them down at a minimum. Second, use a properly sized pet carrier to prevent them from romping around inside your vehicle.
After the trip, vacuum all the surfaces with which your pet came into contact. This will eliminate residual pet dander before it can do any harm.
Clean Tip #8 – Use an air purifier designed for automobile use. Air purifiers are the ultimate tool for reducing airborne contaminates. You can read more about air purifiers in this article: