How to Avoid Coronavirus Germs at the Gas Station

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man in mask buys gas at the pump
Deliris /

Every time you grab a pump handle at the gas station, you could be transferring germs from dozens of other drivers’ hands to your own skin.

Most of the year, you probably give that reality little thought. But the spread of the coronavirus should make you pause the next time you fill up your tank.

The coronavirus has been found to live for hours and even days on some surfaces. That means touching a gas pump — or a keypad to pay for your gasoline — could put you at risk for coming into contact with the coronavirus.

So, how can you stay safe? Most importantly, do not touch your face after filling up unless and until you have thoroughly washed your hands. We have tips for doing this correctly in “Beware These 7 Hand-Washing Mistakes.”

Consumer Reports and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer a few more tips for steering clear of the coronavirus when you fill up. They include:

  • Wearing disposable nitrile or latex gloves when gripping pump handles and using keypads. In a pinch, using a paper towel to cover your hand will provide some protection.
  • Using disinfectant wipes to wipe down pump handles, buttons and keypads before you use them.
  • Using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands before getting back into the car.

Gabriel Shenhar, associate director of Consumer Reports’ auto test program, says taking these steps can help keep you from coming into contact with germs — and transferring them to other surfaces or people:

“This process ensures that I’m not inadvertently transferring the virus from a high-touch surface like a gas pump to my vehicle’s door handle, and from there into the interior.”

Looking for more ways to avoid catching the virus that causes COVID-19 while on the go? Check out “This Is the Best Way to Kill Coronavirus in Your Car.”

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