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These 3 Steps Can Make Your Car a Pollen-Free Zone

Keeping your car clean inside and out is key to defeating at least one pollen battleground this season.

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It’s that time of the year when pollen makes a lot of us throw up our hands in frustration. Not only does it make allergy sufferers miserable, it makes keeping your car clean an almost impossible task. But, don’t surrender just yet! With a few simple steps, you can breathe a bit easier and your car can look better during this season of swirling yellow dust—inside and out.

Begin with the outside.

Keeping the outside as clean as possible is imperative to keeping the inside clean. Every time you open the door or roll down the window, you are letting pollen into your interior. You cannot do anything about pollen swirling around in the air, but the less pollen on your car, the less you are transferring into your car every time you open the door. Not only that, but pollen is abrasive. It looks ugly on your car, but it can cause ugly scratches, as well, every time it is wiped off or leaned on! Wash your car well, wax, and then rinse off at least weekly, to keep the nasty stuff under control.

Roll up your windows.

It seems obvious, but many of us just do not think about how much pollen is getting into our car when we ride with the windows down. Using your A/C is a good idea, and setting air to recirculate an even better one. Even if your car is just parked in the yard, it’s gathering dust and pollen all over the outside and if those windows are down, so is the interior of the car. Using a damp cloth, wipe down the interior of the car, and vacuum it well to get as much pollen out of the carpet and off of cloth interior as you can—it’s not a bad idea to wear a particle mask, or just tie a bandanna over your mouth and nose, while doing these things, especially if you have a sensitivity to pollen. Now that you have a good, clean car, inside and out, take the last step in the war against pollen.

Clean your cabin air filter

If your car was built around 2000 or later, you likely have an air filter for your interior. This filter screens pollen and other pollutants, but it needs to be changed to keep working at its best. Check your owner’s manual to see if your car has one of these filters. Also, just check to be sure that your car has the filter installed, regardless of whether or not it is equipped for one. Some models actually do have the capacity for a filter, but may not actually have the filter installed if it was a lower-end model. Typically, these filters can be changed by the owner, and most should be changed once a year, more often in high dust or pollutant areas. Typically, a filter can be purchased for $10-35, according to Consumer Reports, although they indicate some higher-end models may have a more expensive filter, as well. If you decide to take it to the dealer to be changed? Expect to pay more for the service of course, as much as $100 or more, in some cases.

Pollen can be frustrating and miserable, and you cannot do anything about it swirling around you this time of year. But, with these simple steps, at least your car can be a little less of a battleground.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Mechele Dillard    May 2, 2014 - 3:51PM

In reply to by Parks McCants

Here in Georgia, the pollen is like snow sometimes, honestly; it's just obnoxiously floating in the air, landing on everything. When I come in from walking, it's all in my hair--it's a mess! As much time as some people spend in their cars, I thought it was something to think about; for me, getting out and actually maintaining my clean-up is the hard part!

John Goreham    May 3, 2014 - 11:02AM

Mechele, you and I are definitely in synch. One of the very few things I can do myself is change my cabin air cleaner element. I drove into a Toyota dealership yesterday and at the parts counter the element cost just $25. All I had to do was open and unlatch the glove box, pull out the element assembly (neatly marked "Up" to make it idiot proof) replace the paper element, and put the cartridge back in. Easy-peasy. If you want to feel like a pretend mechanic a good thing to try yourself.

Jackie Ferrara (not verified)    May 3, 2014 - 11:41AM

Here in the Las Vegas Valley, bad air in the top ten in the nation, the pollen and dust just swirls around and around since there's no rain to wash it away and it doesn't blow over the mountains. Everything is covered in yellow dust.