The inside of your car is dirtier than the average toilet, study reveals
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A new university study commissioned by Scrap Car Comparison has revealed that the inside of our cars have significantly higher levels of germs on them than the average toilet.
Researchers at Aston University’s School of Biosciences took samples from car interiors with varied ownership histories, to establish bacterial contamination levels within the vehicles, and to highlight just how thoroughly people actually tend to clean their cars.
Despite the newest car tested in the study being just two years old, the results revealed that motorists should be cleaning the inside of their ride a lot more, with harmful bacteria likely to be discovered in most cars out on the road today.
In particular, the trunk plays host to significantly high levels of bacteria, with E.coli likely to be found in every trunk and potentially on your driver’s seat. More commonly known as faecal bacteria, the findings pose a clear concern for anyone that puts their fruit and vegetables in the trunk after a trip to the shops, or enjoys a drive-thru dinner in the driver’s seat.
Beyond the trunk, the other areas tested including the gearstick, dashboard and backseat also saw higher levels of bacterial contamination than is found on, or even inside, the average domestic toilet. The bacteria found included Pseudomonas, a bacterium with strains that can’t easily be treated with antibiotics and Staph Aureus, a germ associated with coughs and sneezes that in some cases is linked to MRSA.
The Filthiest Areas of a Car
Trunk - 1,425 bacteria identified
Driver’s seat - 649 bacteria identified
Gearstick - 407 bacteria identified
Back seat - 323 bacteria identified
Dashboard - 317 bacteria identified
Steering wheel - 146 bacteria identified
There was also a correlation discovered between the age of a car, and the levels of bacteria likely to be found within it. The older cars sampled for the study exhibited higher bacteria loads than those that have been on the road for a shorter amount of time.
However, the study did highlight some good news for drivers, as the researchers found that out of all areas within our cars, the steering wheel is generally the cleanest. This high-contact area saw very low levels of bacterial contamination, which is potentially thanks to the uplift in hand sanitiser use following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Jonathan Cox, Senior Lecturer in Microbiology at Aston University commented: “The results of this study are fascinating, as they help to show that despite cleaning our cars, the older they are, the dirtier they generally are.
This becomes key when thinking about areas such as the trunk or driver’s seat. Many of us have placed loose groceries in our trunk, or dropped the odd crisp onto our seat, before picking it up and eating it.
These results however highlight that we should instead change how we think about our cars and cleanliness. Often, we will clean our cars based on whether they ‘look’ clean versus whether they actually are clean, but you would never even think about eating off of your toilet seat. Upholstery, in particular, should be given deep clean and I for one, will always clean any used car I buy in the future myself!”
Dan Gick, Managing Director at Scrap Car Comparison added: “Taking care of your car, from making sure it’s running well to keeping it clean, all work towards ensuring it has a long life and is a car you love mile after mile.
The last thing you want is for your car to become a risk on the roads, as well as a risk to your health. We hope the results of this study help to highlight the importance of taking good care of your car inside and out.
It’s worth thinking about how often you clean the inside of your house and apply the same thought process to your car, especially if you tend to drive it every day”.