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Discover India Hicks

Discover India Hicks
Discover India Hicks

If you do ONE thing this week...


If you're like most people you spend at least a few hours a day in the car - whether it's commuting to and from work, running to the grocery store or picking up the kids from a soccer game. Sometimes, the car is an office and sometimes, a closet. With two kids, for me, it's often a dining room.

But though you might think twice before touching the seat on a public bus or holding the rail on the subway, you probably don't think too much about your car's cleanliness. Sure, there are coffee stains from a few weeks ago on your cup holder and an inch of dust coating your dashboard.

But it isn't hurting anybody, is it?

Studies show yes and no. The germs aren't necessarily going to cause serious health concerns but the germs lurking in one's car interior is enough to raise an eyebrow. And hopefully gross you out to the point that you will make time to disinfect and clean out your car this week.

Here are some shockingly gross stats:

Research has found that while 80 bacteria lurk on each square inch of toilet, around 700 harmful bugs inhabit the car's interior.

Surveys show that 42% of motorists regularly dine while driving. Hence why a car is the perfect place for germs to breed, especially if you leave litter or uneaten food around. Which is easy to do when you're busy loading and unloading kids, pets, groceries, etc.

The steering wheel of your car harbours nine times more germs than a public toilet seat.

The dashboard is the second germiest place behind food spills. Air is draw in from the dashboard and bacteria may be impacting the dashboard as the air is drawn in to the air circulation system. The other possibility is that this is the warmest spot in the automobile, i.e., the sun shines directly on the dashboard most of the day.

If you have children, your child's car seat is swimming in germs and MOLD. Studies show hundreds of thousands of bacteria and mold growing by the second. Just think about all the things kids touch and eat throughout their day and bring into the car with them. Yuck.

Radio dials are usually the cleanest item in the car. Theory believes because only one person usually touches them.

Cars are the moldiest form of transportation according to germ expert Dr. Chuck Gerba, a University of Arizona microbiologist. The reason being - germs seem to tend to build up because people aren't really cleaning or disinfecting these areas regularly. Keep in mind that germs travel with us and everybody that travels in that car carries their germs and leaves them in your car.

Grossly only a third of people clean the inside of the car once a year, while 10% said they never bothered to wipe down surfaces or vacuum.

Keep this in mind next time you make a pit stop at a fast food drive thru; One seemingly harmless burrito is all it takes to spread those germs from the gear shift onto your greasy fingers – then onto your food, the dashboard, your steering wheel, the turn signal, and finally into your mouth! If you’re one of the 16% of people who admit spilling food in the car, you’ve now got bacteria bursting all over the floors and seats.

Anthony Hilton, the director of Biology and Biomedical Science at Aston University, says most of the bacteria found in a car isn’t enough to cause serious health problems, but that’s assuming you drive alone. If you frequently drive with pets or children, your risk skyrockets. Why? The Aston University study found traces of fecal matter from pets and dirty diapers tracked all over the typical family car – including the trunk, where most families store their groceries! Eww.

And if you drive with trash on the floor – as HALF of all drivers do – the news gets worse. Not only do you have bacteria growing on the floor, you have fungi growing in your ventilation system, and that fungi gets circulated around the cabin whenever you turn on the air conditioner or the heater. Add everything up, and here’s what the researchers at Aston University concluded: People typically spend three full years of their lives stuck behind the wheel of a car. In that time, they breathe more sickness causing germs in a car than they’d ever find at home on a toilet seat!

Wondering the best way to disinfect? There's really no right or wrong way. Just grab a rag and some disinfectant spray or disinfectant wipes and start with any food stains first. Work your way down to the change holder and steering wheel, the place our hands come into contact with the most. But don't stop just there. Since you're already got your supplies in hand, you might as well wipe down everything; backs of the seats, glove compartment, heater dials. There's nothing better than a clean car - not one that "looks" clean, but really IS clean!

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