Drivers are supposed to pick up passengers, not germs. A little cleaning goes a long way in keeping your taxi free from dirt and bacteria. Your customers will thank you for it and you’ll feel better for having a clean, fresh work environment.
So how do you go about keeping a taxi germ free?
You might shower every day and clean your home regularly, but most vehicle interiors are cleaned much less.
The average UK motorist cleans their car interior just 8 times a year – 18% only clean it three times a year and a worrying 9% clean their car interiors twice a year or less.
An American study found that steering wheels have more bacteria per square centimetre than many sites we think of as dirty.
The average steering wheel was found to be six times dirtier than the average mobile phone screen, four times dirtier than a public toilet seat and two times dirtier than the buttons on a public lift.
When you think of how much more use a taxi gets than the average private car, it’s even more important to have a cleaning routine to keep the filth at bay.
The parts of a car that you touch frequently are those with the most potential to become bacteria villages – think of door handles, volume buttons, the steering wheel, handbrake and gear stick, seat belt buttons and the rear-view mirror.
A professional car cleaner for Toyota put together a helpful list of 40 germ hotspots that should be on your cleaning radar:
1 Exterior door handles
2 Frame of door and roof
3 Interior door release
4 Window switches
5 Interior door handle
6 Door pocket
8 Seatbelt clips
9 Seat adjust buttons
10 Steering wheel
12 Control stalks
13 Driver air vents
15 Power button
16 Gear shift
17 Multimedia screen
18 Central air vents
19 Heating controls
21 Log book
22 Central storage compartment
24 Rear-view mirror
25 Interior lights
26 Grab handle
28 Head rests
29 Seat pockets
30 Rear central tab
31 Fuel cap
32 Wheel valves
33 Boot lid
34 Parcel shelf
35 Boot floor tab
36 Boot close button
37 Bonnet lid
38 Washer cap
40 Oil cap
Germs can linger for up to three days inside a car, so it’s important to clean it regularly, especially if you’re carrying multiple passengers every day.
Windscreen fans can stir up dust and debris and deposit them on the dashboard.
If you take front seat passengers, it can mix up with their sticky fingerprints, sneeze deposits and so forth, making the dashboard a prime site for germs to breed.
Make sure you clean the dashboard regularly to help reduce the risk.
Keeping the windscreen and windows free from dirt and grease is also important – just think of how your taxi insurance premiums would be impacted by a collision due to reduced vision.
Different passengers make different kinds of mess. If you work late at night transporting drinkers and clubbers, you’re likely to experience messes like vomit, drink spills and food spills.
Transporting children will see you cleaning biscuit crumbs, juice spills and the odd crayon mark off your seats.
If you drive people with compromised immune systems, for example older people or those travelling for hospital treatment, it is even more important to keep your vehicle clean and free from build-up.
Even if you put aside public health considerations, a smelly vehicle with sticky seats and smeary windows is going to make a bad impression on your passengers, resulting in lower customer loyalty and reduced tipping.
You should take care to always give passengers a pleasant, hygienic experience when driving them from place to place.
What’s more, if customers feel a taxi is clean when they enter, they are much more likely to treat it with respect. A whiffy, dirty taxi will make passengers less careful about containing their mess.
It’s not really practical to clean a taxi after every passenger, but a quick daily wipe down should be achievable for every driver, with a more thorough clean every so often.
It is up to you to decide how regularly you should do a deep clean, based on passenger levels and whether recent customers have been particularly messy.
There are special car cleaning wipes which will prevent damage to your car interior, but a simple swipe with a bleach-free antibacterial wipe followed by wiping with a dry microfibre cloth will also do the job.
Wearing disposable gloves while cleaning and washing your hands thoroughly afterwards will help you to avoid picking up any bugs yourself.
Be careful about using disinfectants in a cab – these can damage leather and upholstery.
Mild soap and warm water should work perfectly well, plus airing the vehicle. Leather conditioner used after cleaning will help to protect the interior.
Check the terms of your taxi insurance so you know what policy terms and conditions apply in respect of damage to the interior.
Of course, you can use professional services for cleaning if you can’t face doing it yourself, but this will eat into your profits.
It’s usually best in terms of business to do the regular cleaning yourself, opting for a deep-clean by a pro every now and then.
It’s not always possible to avoid mess, but you can go a long way towards it by having some house rules (or should that be cab rules?) that you and your passengers follow.
Firstly, no eating or drinking in the taxi – this includes you!
Food and drink are smelly, they spill and result in greasy fingers that then touch surfaces within the vehicle. If you need a snack, get out and stretch your legs.
If a customer has food, ask them to consume it before entering the vehicle.
Keeping your cab free from clutter is another way to avoid germs. Old maps and wrappers not only look unsightly, but they also make it harder to keep the vehicle clean and could harbour dirt and bacteria.
There’s a reason why car mats are removable – you’re meant to shake them out every so often. Failure to do so means they get covered in dust and mud, which can be transferred to other surfaces within the car.
Taking pride in your taxi fleet and making sure your vehicles are clean and tidy is just one step in running a successful taxi business. Another is getting the right taxi insurance in place.
Do you need taxi insurance to support your business? Why not get a quick quote from Taxi Insurer today?