Aaron Widmar
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10 Easy Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Car!

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Stop the sneezes this spring by sanitizing and shaping up your sedan (or other vehicle)

Man blowing his nose into a tissue
Do your allergies seem to get worse when you’re in the car? We have 12 solutions!
Photo: William Brawley via CC/Flickr

If you suffer from allergies or live with someone who does, you spend a lot of time cleaning your house for dust, dander, and other irritants. But what about your car?

Cleaning your vehicle to make it allergy-friendly is not as exhaustive as it sounds. Simply follow the 12 steps below to allergy-proof your car. Your sinuses are sure to thank you!

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Vacuum frequently

You track a lot of filth into your car on your clothes and shoes, so it’s crucial to frequently vacuum the carpet, mats, and seats. In addition to removing pollen, dirt, and other allergens, doing so will help remove dust mites and the substances that foster them.

Disinfect seats & carpet

To neutralize anything that’s already set in the upholstery, spray everything down with a disinfectant every month (more often if it’s allergy season) and then apply a fabric cleaner. A lot of sweat, grime, and allergens can fester in the cloth.

To make cleaning the cabin easier, splurge for leather seats in your next car, which are easier to wipe clean. Or, for now, wrap the seats in wipeable or washer-safe seat covers.

Wash inside and out

Wipe the dashboard, steering wheel, controls, door handles, trim, and windows with a car-safe cleaner and paper towel.

Rinse off the exterior of your car after you travel through an area abundant in air pollen (such as rural country roads or smoggy metro areas). Anything still clinging to your car’s body can easily be swept into its cabin.

Replace the cabin air filter

It’s the job of the cabin filter to sift out contaminants from the air being pumped into your car’s interior through the air conditioning system. Over time, this filter becomes dirty and clogged. Replace the cabin air filter at least twice a year. It’s an easy DIY task if you follow these directions.

Replace cloth mats with rubber ones

Toss out the standard, factory-provided cloth floor mats and purchase rubber or plastic mats or floor liners. They don’t hold moisture and house mold like fabric ones do, and they’re much easier to rinse clean.

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Minimize messes

Clean up any spills or messes which occur inside your car as soon as you can to prevent mold from developing. Perform a regular check for anything that may have gotten wedged under the seats or between the cushions. Never keep trash inside your vehicle.

Change your clothes

Since outerwear is usually how allergens are brought into a vehicle, have all your passengers remove these items before sitting in your car: their shoes, jackets, coats, gloves, etc. Store them in a contained, separate area, like the trunk or an air-tight storage tub.

Keep the outside air out

Keep your windows closed during high-allergy season and use the air conditioning to recirculate within the cabin. If you’re not sure how to do that, here’s a guide on understanding your car’s air conditioning buttons.

Check that weather stripping is intact and every window/door shuts properly so allergens don’t leak into your automobile. To help maintain the condition of your car’s weather stripping, follow these recommendations.

Keep pets secure

Whenever you travel with a dog, cat, or other pet, they should always be secured in a carrying case. It’s the safest way for them to travel. An added benefit of securing your pet this way is that it confines fur and dander so it doesn’t spread throughout the cabin.

Don’t use air fresheners

Although an air freshener may seem like an easy way to “freshen” your car, all it does is emit scented chemicals into the air to mask the actual allergens. Avoid adding more chemicals in this manner which only further enflame your sinuses.

If you want to give your car a pleasant scent, consider a chemical-free essential oil diffuser or some other product that’s less likely to cause nasal irritation.

You spend a lot of time in your car every month, from trips to the grocery store to summer road trips to office commuting to visiting relatives during the holidays. Make sure every drive is pleasant for your sinuses.