I didn’t develop allergies until I was in my 40s, but breathing Southern California’s less-than-stellar air and inhaling pollen seem to have finally caught up with me. I was surprised to learn that allergic reactions inside a car can be more severe than those experienced in the home or workplace. The culprit? Less air volume.

Spilling a cup of coffee or food in your car and failing to clean it up properly can produce mold spores and bacteria. Clean up after every spill, and keep surfaces dry—especially carpets and cup holders. Keep a box of organic disinfecting wipes handy (the ones for yoga mats work great), and regularly wipe off the dashboard, steering wheel and cup holders.

Cabin air filters, a feature found on most vehicles, can also keep pollutants out of your car, according to experts at General Motors. They’re located on the intake side of the air-conditioning system, and they can extract pollen, soot and dust, preventing them from entering your vehicle. Check with your car’s manufacturer to see how often you should change the filter to keep air clean.

Photo courtesy of General Motors