Is It Safe to Rent a Car Right Now?

Summer is traditionally the best time to travel long distances. Whether you’re visiting family and friends, heading to a theme park, or just getting away from it all, there is nothing like a car trip. Even this year, with summer approaching and states starting to lift travel restrictions, you might consider running away from home in the coming months. But what if you usually rent a car for your vacation? Is renting a safe option now?

What to ask before renting

There are several questions you should ask your car rental company. You need to make sure cars are not only cleaned, but cleaned after each use and possibly left between buyers – for days or weeks.

John Marroni, owner and president of National Restoration , told Business Insider what to ask about when renting a car:

  • What products do you use? Baby wipes won’t damage it – the rental agency must use products recommended by the CDC for disinfection.
  • How often are cars washed and disinfected? (You are looking for “after every customer” here.)
  • When was the machine last disinfected and how often? Again, “constantly” would be a good answer.

Car rental company cleaning policy

Each car rental company has its own rules, so it is important to read them before renting. Here are the cleaning rules for the top three car rental companies:


It is Avis’s policy that they have refined the methods used to clean every vehicle during the pandemic, with particular attention to the points that customers come into contact with the most, including seats, steering wheels, doorknobs and other hard surfaces. They do not state what cleaning products they use, but they do state that they are using EPA recommended products . They also encourage all of their employees to wash their hands and stay home if they feel unwell.


In their Complete Clean Pledge Enterprise, they describe how they disinfect their vehicles. This commitment includes specific details about which parts of the car they devote to washing, vacuuming, wiping, and disinfecting.


Hertz introduced what they call “Hertz Gold Standard Clean” . According to Hertz, this 15-point cleaning and disinfection process follows the guidelines of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Their cleaning regime includes the exterior, interior and compartments of the vehicle, as well as odor removal and disinfection. Any team member who is involved in vehicle cleaning must be “certified” before being allowed to clean.

Choosing a car

When choosing the car you want to rent, ask when it was last rented. Due to the small number of rented cars (and also because companies like Hertz are filing for bankruptcy ), it can be much easier to rent a car that has not been used by another customer for 14 days.

Be sure to contact your customer service representative if you prefer to use a vehicle that has not been rented in the recent past.

If in doubt, disinfect

While your car rental company may use the cleaning methods listed above (or similar), it is always a good idea to disinfect the vehicle yourself using CDC recommended products.

You can also prepare a disinfectant solution yourself:

  1. Use out-of-date household bleach and dilute 5 tablespoons (a glass) to 1 gallon of water. Or:
  2. Use an alcohol solution containing 70% alcohol.

Here is a complete guide to disinfection .

  • Use disinfectant wipes on all door handles, including the trunk latch.
  • Wipe off the steering wheel and seat belts (buckles, retractor, webbing).
  • Spray / wipe down the dashboard, radio console, gear lever and glove box.

These are the areas that touch the most in the car and are therefore the best places to start. We also recommend vacuuming the car interior and washing the rubber mats. When cleaning, wear a mask and disposable gloves (if available) and keep windows down.


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