Protect Yourself Against Covid-19 When Pumping Gas

Pump handles and keypads can be contaminated, so take precautions to avoid exposure

Despite social distancing and shuttered venues—moves designed to staunch the spread of the novel coronavirus—People still need to drive to places for food, medicine, and other supplies and services.

For many, that means the occasional trip to the gas station is inevitable, as is touching the pump handle and payment keypad. Pump handles and credit card keypads, which are high-touch areas, may have the virus present, which experts are still trying to define how long the virus can survive on those surfaces. We just don’t know.

Defensive Driving

Your best protection overall is to wash your hands regularly and to refrain from touching your face with unwashed hands. But there are a few things you can do that will help you stay safe when you have to pump gas.

Consumer Report’s auto experts suggest several ways to approach this task.

• Consider carrying some disposable nitrile or latex gloves in your car to use when gripping the pump handle. Short of that, you can try to use paper towels that are sometimes available at the pump or have some with you to cover your hands when you grip the handle.

• Do the same to isolate yourself from the keypad when entering payment information.

• Invert the gloves and throw them away, and also any paper towels you might have used. Use hand sanitizer to make sure your hands are clean after you’re done and before you get back into your car.

• Cleaning your hands after you’re done seems like the quickest, easiest precaution. But some drivers might want to have disinfectant wipes handy for wiping down the gas pump handle and the payment keypad before pumping.

Whichever method you prefer, our best advice is to be prepared ahead of time because washing your hands properly with soap and water at a gas station is not always an easy or feasible option.

And as you would after any trip outside your home during this unusual time, remember to wash your hands before touching anything at home. The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and failing that, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.