As Malaysians spend a great deal of time in their cars, it is in their best interest not only to keep their cars clean but also to sanitise them in view of the clear and present danger of the new coronavirus rampaging across the globe.
CarSifu spoke to two car detailers on how to keep harmful germs at bay.
Darren Chang runs the AutoDetailer Studio here. His company has made disinfecting car interiors one of the core components of its detailing programme for the past 16 years.
The car sanitisation and disinfection services are priced from RM350 (decreases in cost for more recurring sessions), using the Cyclone Medic-Aid HVAC Disinfectant System.
Cyclone Medic-Aid works through the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system using Nano Fusion Delivery Technology to deploy millions of microscopic cleaning particles disinfecting the entire vehicle interior from the seats, carpets, dashboards, and doors.
"Our sterilisation treatment has been certified 100% non-toxic by TUV, SGS and CHEMLAB and is safe for children and pets (most available fumigation systems are not)," said Chang, who also restores cars and is an avid photographer.
"Due to its nano-particle size, it works to sterilise the HVAC filters and components at the same time, thus ensuring the air that you breathe is disinfected."
He said a comprehensive option would be to combine the use of vapour heat via a machine which produces high-pressure superheated steam at 135 degree Celsius to completely disintegrate any bacteria or virus.
"Heat is an effective way to kill viruses, according to the WHO (World Health Organisation). Once the superheated steam has eliminated surface bacteria/viruses, the Cyclone Medic-Aid is then deployed through the HVAC system. This is the most effective way to ensure your vehicle’s cabin is completely disinfected."
Cyclone Medic-Aid is a HVAC rapid dispersion system and only takes 25 minutes per treatment on any passenger vehicle.
However, for maximum sterilisation, the vehicle’s interior will have to undergo high-pressure superheated steam beforehand, which can take 3 to 4 hours.
Chang emphasised that Cyclone Medic-Aid is highly effective in terms of area coverage.
"Because Cyclone Medic-Aid HVAC Disinfectant System uses Nano Fusion Delivery, the microscopic cleaning particles are deployed even to hidden recesses of a vehicle interior. The same concept works when we are using high-pressure with superheated steam to eliminate bacteria and viruses," said Chang, adding that a recommended practice is to ensure that sanitising and disinfecting efforts are done with reasonable frequency to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Chang said AutoDetailer Studio personnel spend time doing research on evolving technology, and the company's services are constantly updated. The company also work with the top manufacturers from around the world including carrying out real-world testing of their products and equipment in controlled environments.
"The data we gather enables them to develop better products. A lot of what we learnt started from how I would care for my own car. It’s something that my parents guided me from a young age. I simply took the know-how and honed them into skills which are then applied to our clients' cars."
He said he believes there would be more demand for car sanitisation and disinfection services in the future, due to a spike in awareness and health concerns.
"Also, over the last 16 years, we’ve invested into building awareness among our clients and social media followers about the importance of a comprehensive detailing programme with reasonable frequency."
Meanwhile, Horus Premium Tints & Detailing Studio managing director Mark Wee said there is a difference between bacterial and viral disinfectants.
For starters, Horus already has anti-bacterial solutions that can be applied in the cabin and air-conditioning vents which it claims lasts up to three months and kills 98% of bacteria.
For disinfecting a car against a virus however, it involves a different solution.
"If you want to kill a virus, you need to have a solution which contains at least 75% isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide in it. But it should only be applied to parts of the car you touch such as the steering wheel, seatbelt, door handles, arm rest, gear knobs, power windows, door handle, infotainment system and air-conditioning system.
"An antibacterial solution which is fumigated into the cabin to kill the bacteria involves parts such as car aircon blower, dashboards, floor mats, seats and roof lining," said Wee.
Wee pointed out that it is also not as simple as just applying or spraying the solution in your car as it has to be done by professionals to avoid damaging the different surfaces and materials in a car.
"The antibacterial solution requires the use of Horus Antibacterial Fumigator. So, that's done at our dealers.
"The treatment to disinfect the parts of the car where we touch is a different solution. That is also done by our dealers in view of Covid-19. Our guys use this as they have to handle customer cars. We make sure our guys stay safe so they are advised to disinfect themselves before and after working on a car."
With the constant threat of Covid-19, the detailers at Horus have quickly adapted the way they work.
"We have made it mandatory to use gloves and masks now and disinfect parts of the car which people touch before and after working on our customer's cars. We clean the interior with a cleaner specifically for that and then we disinfect the car with the solution which is a World Health Organization (WHO) recommended product. We allow the wet solution to dry in 30 minutes. After that we will wipe off any residue before we apply the interior coating (for cars that come in for coating), then we put the antibacterial fumigation machine in the car and spray the antibacterial spray.
"After that, we buff off any overspray in the interior before handing over the car to the customer," said Wee.
Wee said products with alcohol have to be used selectively. Leathers, for example, are sensitive to alcohol as it degrades it, he said, adding that some customers may also object to products with alcoholic content being used on their cars. — THOMAS HUONG and RIZAL JOHAN