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Why Are Hand Sanitisers and High Factor Sunscreen Bad for Your Car’s Health?

Manufacturers  ·  November 4, 2020

Why Are Hand Sanitisers and High Factor Sunscreen Bad for Your Car’s Health?

With the hottest time of the year approaching and the COVID-19 statistics still rising unrelentingly, the use of high-factor sun protection lotions and hand sanitisers continues to skyrocket uncontrollably. Sanitiser application has almost become a by-the-minute thing. Although they protect humans from germs and microbes, sanitisers are bad for our cars' health. It turns out we don't all want the same thing.

Make no mistake; we aren’t on a campaign to stop you from applying sunscreens or sanitisers. That would be nuts, seeing COVID-19 and skin cancer are genuine threats. However, we'll share a few suggestions on how you can protect your wellbeing and still not damage your car at the same time. Whoever said you couldn't eat your cake and have it! 

Ford Motors Conducts Tests on the Potential Damage to Cars by Suncreens & Sanitisers

Ford carried out research tests on different products' effect on the materials used in the manufacture of their vehicles. The top-tier vehicle manufacturing company did this in a bid to continually improve the standard of the cars and car parts being manufactured. You know, make them last longer, make them fit for any situation—standard R&D stuff.

It was these tests that provided awareness on the damage that hand sanitisers and high-factor sunscreen products can cause to our cars. Chemicals present in these products could react with surfaces, causing them to wear and peel unless special finishes are applied to protect them. When exposed to heat or the sun, these products containing several types of chemical compounds can be a disaster waiting to happen to our vehicles. Okay, maybe not a D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R, but you get the drift; the chemical reaction hastens the weakening of your car's interior and exterior finishes.

The hand sanitiser composition mostly contains ethanol, while the sun protection lotions have titanium oxide as their principal component. These compounds can react with plastics and natural oil found in leather, particularly when they are hot. The Ford team in charge of material strength tested their materials at up to 74°C and extended sun exposure simulations for 48 days to find out the effects of these chemicals.

"Once we knew what it was, we were able to do something about it," said Richard Kyle, a materials engineering team member. This was after an enormous wear rate was noticed in Turkey and traced back to ethanol as a contributing factor.

Mark Montgomery, a senior materials engineer at Ford’s Materials Technology Centre in Europe, observed how consumer trends are evolving, from sanitising, sun-protecting, and insect-repelling stuffs to new products continually being ushered in by changing market demands. Different products have different compositions, and that’s a real challenge. Montgomery added that "Even the most innocuous-seeming product can cause problems when they come into contact with surfaces hundreds and even thousands of times a year."

As of 2019, it was predicted that the European market for hand sanitisers comprising gel, foam, and wipes is expected to rise by 60%. That is a staggering addition of $221.7 million by 2024 to the $371.92 million in 2018. Since those projections were made before the COVID-19 pandemic, then I surmise that the figures are much higher than was predicted. You know what this means: steering wheels are going to suffer. 

As we can see with Ford Motors, car manufacturers have risen to the challenge. So, while they continue to work on ways to reduce the detrimental effects of these everyday products, what do we, as users, do?

How to Stay Safe and Still Protect My Car

First, remember it is much more important to prioritise your safety and that of others over your car. Human lives should mean more in every situation. Only a healthy person would need a car. Disposable gloves can be the perfect solution to lessen contact with high-touch car surfaces. You may also wear long-sleeved clothes and long trousers to prevent sunscreens from rubbing off on your leather seats. To this end, you can get fitting covers for your seats and any other parts applicable.

Bottom Line

Hopefully, this article has made you aware of the fact that cars have allergies too. If it is not too much stress, you should do what you can to preserve your car's beauty and appeal. But, hey, if the recommendations we provided are too much to keep up with, just remember to protect your health and sanity. And make enough money so you’d be able to afford frequent car parts replacements. Whenever you need those spare parts—new or used— has got you! Contact us now or request an auto part!

Really though, these things are bad for your car's health. Try not to damage your vehicle with your own hands. With just a bit of effort, you can eat your cake, and have it too!

By Damilare Olasinde

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