Got the Sniffles? Maybe It’s Your Car

October 15, 2014 by: Donna Parshall

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Sometimes it seems like allergies strike from nowhere, but have you considered that your car might be the culprit? Even if you spend only a brief amount of time in your car, collected dust, mold, or other allergens could be the cause of your symptoms. Especially because the interior of your car is a confined space, it’s very important that the air there be clean and allergen-free.

Controlling Allergens

Regular cleaning is the key to keeping the inside of your car free from allergens. You’ll need a vacuum, a rag or microfiber towel, carpet cleaner, and your preferred multi-surface cleaning solution.

– Hard Surfaces

Spray your cleaning fluid onto a rag or microfiber cloth and then wipe down the hard surfaces in your car, including the heating and air conditioning vents and the dashboard. To keep from irritating your allergies further, use perfume-free cleaners.

– Seats & Carpets

As often as you dust and wipe down the hard surfaces of your car, you should also clean your car’s fabric surfaces: seats or seat covers, floor mats, and carpets. Regular vacuuming of fabric surfaces can help keep them clean, but sometimes they need a particularly thorough treatment:

– Especially if you are allergy prone, clean your carpets with an anti-allergen treatment. If the carpets in your car have sustained water damage – anything from flooding to spilled soda – be sure to have them thoroughly cleaned or replaced to get rid of mold. Check under the seats for hidden food or spills that could be growing mold.

– Seat covers can help keep you comfortable while you’re driving, but their soft surfaces quickly collect allergens like flakes of skin, dirt, dust mites, and mold spores. If you have seat covers, wash them regularly. Avoid seat covers that are wooly or furry, as they are more prone to accumulating allergens like the ones listed above.

– Floor Mats

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP, Inc.) Driver Safety recommends that all drivers regularly clean their fabric floor mats, where drivers are most prone to tracking mud and moisture into their cars. Mold loves damp surfaces, so be sure to clean the mats themselves and the carpet underneath them. AARP also recommends that drivers invest in plastic floor mats, which can be cleaned with the same cleaning fluid as the hard surfaces of your car.

– Air Filters

Carcare.org suggests changing air filters every12,000 to 15,000 miles. But if you notice that your allergies have gotten more severe recently, consider checking your air filter. Mold spores may have taken root there. If you have strong pollen allergies, ask your mechanic about special pollen filters that you can use during times of the year with high pollen counts.

– Weather Stripping

Examine the weather stripping on your car. If it’s cracked, consider getting it patched or replaced to keep your car dry on the inside.

– Use the AC

To avoid accumulating allergens inside your car, drive with the windows up. Use the recirculate air option keep clean air in and allergen-laden air out. This tactic is particularly important in pollen season, but is also important when you’re driving in an area with a lot of airborne allergens, like dusty roads.

Regular Maintenance

Frequent dusting and vacuuming can help cut down on the allergens in your car. But the pros can also help keep your car allergen-free. Consider having the inside of your car cleaned professionally every few months to ensure that is thoroughly clean.

Rachel Schramm contributed to this article.