The inside of your car is dirtier than the average toilet – with most driver’s seats and boots playing host to faecal matter, a new study by Aston University reveals.
The study 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.
Rather disgustingly, faecal bacteria in the form of e.coli was found on most driver’s seats, and in the boot. Don’t want to know how it gets in there, but it seems to be quite common. Maybe it’s time to start washing the fruits and veges after a supermarket run?
Beyond the boot, 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.
What is the dirtiest part of a car? How many germs are in your car?
- Boot – 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
Other 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.
There was also a correlation between the age of the car and the amount of bacteria likely found within. The study looked at five different cars, ranging from a 17-year-old Peugeot 307 from a home with pets and one previous owner, to a two-year-old Peugeot 308.
The other cars included a VW Golf (five years old, animals and children, two previous owners), a Ford Focus (13 years old, animals and children, one previous owner), and a Honda Jazz (9 years old, animals and children, two previous owners).
Unsurprisingly, those older cars sampled showed higher bacteria loads than those that have been on the road for a shorter amount of time.
Gearsticks were bad offenders, with the findings showing they tended to dirtier than a toilet flush, and in most cases dirtier than a toilet seat.
That paints a pretty gross picture, considering the gearstick showed an average of 407 bacteria identified, while the boot had more than 1400 bacteria.
One piece of good news from the research is that the steering wheel, where the most contact in a car happens, is generally the cleanest. This could be due to an uptick in hand sanitiser use during 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 boot or driver’s seat. Many of us have placed loose groceries in our boot, 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 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!”