In 2020, we saw the spread of coronavirus tip the world into a frenzy about preventing the transmission of germs and diseases. Well, it looks like 2021 will be no different - everyone is more cautious than ever while we eagerly wait for a vaccine to be rolled out.. and if you're in a certain age bracket or health category, you'll be waiting a good while longer. Ok so, frequently washing our hands is a key factor to limit transmission of covid-19, but germs can not only survive, but thrive on surfaces for longer periods of time. You’ll be (unpleasantly) surprised to learn that your car is a serious hotbed for all different kinds of gross bacteria, not just coronavirus germs. We go crazy washing our hands and wiping down door handles, but we always neglect our car - and you will not believe how germy they actually are. Read on and we’ll tell you the worst bacteria hotspots in your car, and how you can safely and properly clear them of all the nasty stuff.
From a series of lab test swabs taken on steering wheels, results showed that a steering wheel can hold up to FOUR times more bacteria than an average toilet seat and as a result, these are by far the dirtiest place in your car. While it’s the most obvious area that you’d expect to find bacteria, you might be surprised to learn how nasty it actually is. The steering wheel is constantly touched by our hands and it’s very infrequently cleaned, with most drivers reporting that they only dust their steering wheel once every few weeks, and disinfect it once every six months. Basically, if you haven’t been washing your hands frequently, or cleaning your steering wheel regularly, (and by regularly, we mean every other day), you’re allowing bacteria to build up and you can potentially ingest this and become sick. But hey, it’s just your own germs, right? WRONG. When anyone speaks, coughs or sneezes in your car, miniscule particles spray into the cabin air and settle on surfaces, like your steering wheel. When you eat in your car, you touch the steering wheel, then your food, and then you ingest germs. Also if you’re planning on using a rental car soon, or dropping your car in for a service, think twice before touching the steering wheel unless it's been sanitised. Drivers who share vehicles - beware the steering wheel scum!
Similar to the steering wheel, the gear stick is another area that bacteria builds up on because it is touched multiple times on any journey. While it might be slightly out of the way of sneeze germs, it can also be contaminated with food and drink bacteria. Most drivers will admit to eating or drinking in their car at some point and the gear stick seems to be the target for a lot of spillages due to its central location. It’s also an item that’s frequently cross contaminated - you touch your steering wheel, and then the gearstick, (then your face..?) and back and forth. Gear stick germs quite literally get everywhere!
Car Door Handles are another obvious area for germs, but they are much less harmful than the steering wheel or the gearstick. Why? Well because we touch the door handles much less. On average, you’ll use your door handle twice in a car journey, compared to your steering wheel, which you’re constantly touching.
Car Mats, Carpets and Car Seats
Not only do car mats absorb most of the moisture and debris that comes off our shoes, (this can include really nasty stuff like, er, dog crap) they also catch most of the food and drink that’s dropped from when we eat in our cars. Particles of rotten food will grow bacteria and encourage mould. Pretty nasty stuff!
Your air vents allow air to circulate through your car and help to keep your windows demisted. However, deep down in your air conditioning vents, there could be a ton of bacteria growing, or worse yet, mould, and air vents are not necessarily an area that will ever get cleaned unless you take action. There are sanitizers that cleanse the vent tubes and allow fresh, clean air to circulate through your car once again. Mould is particularly dangerous because inhaling spores can cause issues with our respiratory system. Cleaning your air vents is a good idea, because if someone were to cough or sneeze in your car, bacteria can settle on (and in the vent) and stay alive for a period of time. Once you fire up your engine and start moving, the bacteria particles will become disturbed and float around the cabin of your car before settling on another surface (or up your nose or in your mouth!). Cleaning out your air vents is a commonly overlooked task that really is essential for respiratory health
“Bacteria In My Car Won’t Kill Me”
Yep, you’re mostly right, but we are dealing with a killer virus - you could catch an infection such as Covid-19 from germs spmeone has left in your car and this can be potentially fatal to you and others. On a good day, bacteria from your car can absolutely make you sick. The common cold, Flu, Vomiting bug, Coronavirus, Swine Flu, Sars, Chickenpox, Measles…. There’s so much that can be transferred around that can wreak havoc with your insides. Let’s be honest, nobody wants to catch any one of these, let alone be a spreader to a more vulnerable person. Basic hygiene and regular car cleaning however is your strongest defence to all of this.
How to Properly Clean Bacteria From A Car
Don’t worry, you don’t have to go crazy with bleach and hot water to get rid of nasty bacteria from your car…. (definitely DON'T use bleach!). There’s a few simple ways to clean the surfaces of your car without damaging any leather or plastic finishes. Regular cleaning of your car using the methods below will keep your car (and you) germ free, and will also ensure you protect your interior without using chemicals that are too harsh.
Thoroughly clean interior surfaces with an Anti Bacterial cleaner that is suitable for plastic and vinyl surfaces in your car. We suggest using ArmorAll Anti Bacterial Wipes. These wipes will safely, quickly, and thoroughly clean 99% of bacteria and help to prevent recontamination. Use these on your steering wheel, gear knob, door handles, and all the commonly touched surfaces to blitz bacteria. Keep them in your car, and wipe everything down daily.
Sanitize your Air Con System with an Air Con Cleaner. With antibacterial ingredients, these remove bacteria that’s growing in your air con system and give it a really thorough clean, allowing you to breathe fresh, unpolluted air.
For a full scale deep clean of your car, use the Ring Auto Expel Sanitising Mist Machine. This is particularly useful for taxi drivers, commercial drivers and people who share vehicles. The Sanitising Machine comes with 3 lovely covid killing fragrances that form a dense dry fog which penetrates every surface in your vehicle, completely sanitising the air, surfaces and even the air vents. This is a full scale commercial clean for the home user.
Replace your car mats and your seat covers if they're there a long time, it’s cheap to do and and it’ll save you a ton of energy and time that you might have spent washing them. Theres a fair bit of elbow grease required to properly clean a car mat - and that’s assuming you don’t wreck their shape while doing so. You can pick up tailored car mats for your car for a really reasonable price.
Preventing Bacteria From Building Up In Your Car
No matter how often you sanitize your car, it’s constantly becoming recontaminated with different types of bacteria (stop picking your nose while driving!!!!!!!). Prevention is key, so we suggest that you wear disposable gloves while driving. With gloves on, you will avoid having to constantly touch the steering wheel and other surfaces with your bare hands (plus people are generally less likely to stick their finger in their mouth with a pair of gloves on, right?), so the transmission of germs should be greatly lessened. You should always, always wear gloves while filling your car up with fuel. Ingesting bacteria found on a fuel pump could be lethal as well as completely disgusting. If you don’t use disposable gloves, make sure that you are washing your driving gloves very regularly. If you carry car safe anti bacterial wipes in your car, you should give your car a good wipe down at the end of every journey. Another simple thing is to clean up after you eat, or avoid eating and drinking in your car altogether.
Happy & Healthy Driving!