the stale water taken from the air and thrive on the heat from the heater blower.
Normally you will just start noticing a smell, usually a musty or damp aroma that increases when the air is set to recirculate. Depending on the bacteria and virus strain, you can also suffer cold like symptoms, a cough, itchy eyes, breathing difficulties etc.
Basically your car can be giving you germs every time you get in.
How Can I Clean Something I Can't Reach?
Obviously you can't give it a liberal coating of Domestos, you need something to kill airbourne
bacteria and viruses but smells nice, won't affect you and won't damage the car.
The commercial answer comes in a spray can and is available from quite a few different makers.
I bought the 'Comma Air Conditioning Cleaner' from Halfords.
How Does It Work Then?
The instructions babble on about pushing the drivers seat forward and putting the can in
the rear foot well but these instructions are just too generic. We don't have rear footwells.
The idea behind the spray is that the top is pressed in and it locks in place, it is shut in the car with the recirculating blower on full blast. The spray fills the car's interior and eventually makes it through the heater system killing the germs.
So What's The Problem?
The can sprays directly upwards but the recirculation inlet point is under the dashboard,
on the driver side of a RHD. As you can imagine, the whole process is inefficient.
Here you can see the top of the accelerator pedal and the air inlet for the
recirculated air. This vent has two main positions, open and closed.
This is the vent in the closed position, a foam covered flap blocks the vent.
This is the vent open, the flap is pulled back to allow the air in.
How To Clean The Air Conditioning
Ideally, to increase the efficiency of the task, the spray should be directed
straight towards the air inlet. There is a nice place for it to sit as well.
This is a possibility but you have to be extremely careful as there are a lot of connectors and electrics in that area. The spray is very wet so could cause trouble.
It's because of this I chose to follow the instructions a little closer and use the inefficient method.
I figured that the smart is a lot smaller inside than most so it may recirculate the spray quicker.
First thing to do is cover the seats, the keys and the front section of the dash if possible.
Start the car and set the air con to full power.
Select recirculate on the left slider,
Hot on the lower left slider,
Dashboard venting from the lower right slider,
Turn the fan to max on the right slider.
Press the top of the can so it locks, the contents will start to spray out.
Place it in the passenger footwell spraying directly upwards. Make sure it is not spraying against the overhang of the dash, it's also worth angling the dash vents in as they can blow the spray up the windows. When you are happy with the position of it, close the doors.
The can will continue for about 5 minutes, when it has finished just leave the car running for another 5 minutes. This allows the vapour to be recirculated around the car.
When the time is up, switch the car off and bin the spray can.
Get a clean towel or cloth and wipe down any surfaces that show moisture.
Remove all of the covers off the seats and wipe down every surface.
You will have a glistening footwell, wipe it all off and the underside of the dash.
When you are happy that all the residue spray has been wiped up you are done.
The car will have a fresh lemon scent (usually), this subsides in a few days.
No, not at all. Apart from being relatively expensive, the effects were very short lived, it covered everything in spray and worryingly stopped the car from even starting for 24 hours. I can only assume that placing the can in the passenger's footwell allowed the spray to get into the fuse box.
Of course. All you need to do is buy some antibacterial deodourising spray such as:
Oust 3 in 1
Dettol Disinfectant Spray
Bioguard Disinfectant Spray
Oster Spray Disinfectant
These particular products removes odours and kills bacteria on hard and sort surfaces.
Setting the car's heating to recirculate you can spray a short burst directly into the inlet vent meaning it is a lot more efficient and a very quick process. A 3 second spray once every 2 weeks
will keep the bacteria under control and the £3 can will last you all year.
I bought a 5 litre bottle of antibacterial cleaner that smells like juicy fruit chewing gum.
The bottle cost me £15 including delivery from an Ebay seller.
I then bought a little spritzer bottle from the travel section in Boots (UK chemist chain).
This cleaner is watered down to a ratio of 2:1 so I actually get 15 litres once prepared.
1 or 2 sprays a week keep the air conditioning fruity and fresh and I think this bottle
will last the rest of my life. It can obviously used around the home too so worth getting.