Your car is an ideal breeding ground for germs, but do you know which parts of the interior are most riddled with them?
A new study has revealed all, by taking swabs from 20 parts of the inside of a car that you would commonly come into touch with – and the results might be a little surprising.
The samples taken showed that the steering wheel – the most touched part of a car – was one of the most germ-free areas swabbed, while the boot of this particular car that had been used for transporting pets was the area most contaminated.
The other areas with the most visible bacteria were the driver footwell, seatbelt button and handbrake.
Boot bacteria: The vehicle tested (not pictured) found the boot had collected the most germs, mainly because the owner had been transporting pet dogs in the car
The experiment was conducted by auto retailer Motorpoint, which specialises in selling nearly-new second-hand cars – so it knows how disgusting a vehicle interior can get and the importance of a good valet before putting one out onto the forecourt.
Unsurprisingly, the study exposed just how bad slack car cleaning and maintenance could be to your – and your passengers’ – health.
‘Borrowing’ a car that was being used on a day-to-day basis, including ferrying children around and transporting pets, the used-car seller meticulously swabbed each of the 20 areas using agar-filled petri dishes and sealed them to avoid contamination.
The samples were then left to thrive for five days before being analysed and compared.
Results shows that the car boot was the most bacteria-affected area – mainly as a result of the owner’s repeated trips with pet dogs.
Inspection of the samples also revealed that the cup holder, inside door handle, and radio volume button had also accumulated plenty of white and black-coloured mould.
Swabs were taken from 20 areas of the car interior drivers said they most commonly come into touch with
Swabs showed that the boot had the most bacteria build up after the samples had been stored for 5 days. The driver footwell was the next most contaminated area
The seatbelt button in the car showed quite a lot of germ build up by the time the samples were reviewed. As did the handbrake sample
Surprisingly, the three cleanest areas that had the least germs were ones owners come into contact with most frequently.
This included the rear-view mirror, steering wheel rim, and the gear stick – all of which were expected to top the germ charts.
This is the car in question that Motorpoint said it ‘borrowed’ to conduct the germ test
Samples were taken from the interior door handles. As you can see, this vehicle hadn’t been cleaned recently
Swabs were also taken from the seats in front and in the back
Motorpoint said the results wouldn’t have been so disgusting had the owner stuck to a stricter cleaning regime.
According to a survey of 1,050 car owners, Britons only clean the inside of their car an average of ten times a year – approximately once every five weeks.
And considering that 94 per cent of the panel said they eat and drink in the vehicles – and 58 per cent transport pets – it suggests drivers needs to drag out the vacuum and cleaning products more often.
The most commonly-touch part of a car is the steering wheel rim (image is not of tested vehicle). However, the sample showed little trace of germs
The gear stick is another part of the car handled frequently, especially if you own a manual , but the germ count was low. It was a similar story for the interior mirror swab
Alison Weatherley, head of marketing at Motorpoint, said: ‘The results were quite revealing and showed that maybe we need to clean our cars a little more often that we currently think is acceptable.
‘Many drivers eat or drink in their vehicle, as well as chauffeuring young children or pets, and these can also have an impact on dirtiness in cars.
‘To avoid excessive grubbiness, we recommend that people action regular car cleaning – both inside and out!’
A survey of more than 1,000 car owners found that the average person cleans the inside of their car five times a year on average
Almost 10% of the panel admitted to cleaning the inside of their car twice or less in a year
Women were more willing to give the inside of their car a scrub down, while men were found to be more concerned about how sparkling the outside of the motor was
Shockingly, almost one in 10 (9 per cent) of those surveyed said they clean the interior of their car just twice a year or fewer.
When it came to opinions on frequency of car cleaning, typically there was a gender split with men more likely to focus on a gleaming exterior, whereas women were less willing to sitting in a grubby interior.
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