The COVID-19 pandemic has arguably made each and every one of us more conscious of the surfaces that we touch. After all, viruses and bacteria aren’t visible to the naked eye. But just how disgusting are our car’s interiors? Much more than you probably have ever imagined.
This study was commissioned by Scrap Car Comparison in partnership with researchers from Aston University’s School of Biosciences. Based on the samples they gathered from five cars, including one that’s only two years old, your car’s interior is actually a haven for bacteria.
Oh, and by bacteria, we actually mean the kind you find in fecal matter. Yeah, you better have second thoughts now when you eat the piece of potato chip that dropped in your seat. After all, the driver’s seat was determined by the study to have the second-highest concentration of fecal bacteria inside your vehicle. Slightly lower concentrations of fecal bacteria were found in the shifter, back seats, and dashboard. Should we also mention that the amount is on par with your average toilet seat? Gross!
If you really want to know which part of the vehicle has the highest concentration of fecal bacteria, that would be the trunk. As a matter of fact, the amount of fecal bacteria in your car’s trunk exceeds the amount in your average toilet! Researchers pointed out that this is where most people store their groceries.
Dr. Jonathan Cox says: “The boot (trunk) is often where we put our groceries when we go to the supermarket – and with a reduction in the use of carrier bags, there’s a much greater potential of throwing loose items into the boot of a car to travel home. With this in mind, we should be mindful of reducing the risk of this food by making sure to sufficiently clean any fruit, vegetables, or other produce before eating it.”
What’s surprising is that, while the steering wheel is the most frequently-touched surface in a vehicle, this study found out that it also has the least amount of bacteria. This is probably due to the widespread use of alcohol and hand sanitizers.
Dr. Jonathan Cox commented: “Due to increased sanitizer use since the COVID-19 pandemic, the driver contact surfaces generally didn’t have the level of bacteria that we were expecting, meaning that areas such as the steering wheel were not as contaminated as they might have been a few years back.”
Because of this, it is important to know that while your car’s interior may look visually clean, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s biologically clean. Here’s the complete list of surfaces that were tested along with their bacterial concentrations:
- Trunk – 1,425 bacteria identified
- Driver’s seat – 649 bacteria identified
- Gear lever – 407 bacteria identified
- Back seat – 323 bacteria identified
- Dashboard – 317 bacteria identified
- Steering wheel – 146 bacteria identified