Many UK drivers fall into the dirty habit of forgoing a regular deep clean for their vehicles, but a new study highlighting hidden germs in our cars may make you think twice about keeping on top of your vehicle’s cleanliness. 

The experiment, conducted by personal car leasing specialists ZenAuto, swabbed twelve areas of the car of a dog owner, which had been used for both commuting and social purposes, with agar filled petri dishes, which were then sealed and left to thrive for a period of five days in order to find out where bacteria was most likely to thrive.

The results for each section of the vehicle were then visually compared in order to rank and determine which areas of the car are the most germ-ridden.

The petri dishes showed that each area tested showed signs of germ growth over the five-day period, with some proving to be significantly worse than others. However, it was the driver’s footwell, followed by the car boot, which proved to be the worst offenders.

Most bacteria-ridden areas of the car:
1. Driver Footwell
2. Boot
3. Cup Holder
4. Front Passenger Footwell
5. Passenger Seat

A survey, also run by ZenAuto, found that 15% of UK motorists admit to eating and drinking in their car every single day, something that understandably contributes to the dirt and germs in the interior of our vehicle, however, the majority will only clean both the interior and exterior of their vehicles every couple of months at best (35% and 37% respectively).

Despite being revealed to be the dirtiest area of the average car, a quarter of UK adults (25%) admitted they would retrieve and eat food (such as crisps or sandwiches) that they had dropped in to the footwell of their vehicle; something which could have potentially negative implications on our health thanks to the unseen germs and bacteria that could be growing there. Ergh!

Whilst not illegal, eating and drinking when driving should be avoided as it could land you with penalty points and a fine2 due to the distraction it could cause. This aside, all passengers can contribute to the build-up of germs and bacteria in a vehicle, so experts advise regular cleaning both inside and out.


Following the results of the test, Dr Asif Munaf, medical doctor and founder of wellness company, Endorance, shared his advice around the importance of cleaning our vehicles regularly; “In terms of cleanliness of cars, we should aim to wipe down our dashboards, seats and steering wheels with wet cleansing wipes at least once a week; vacuum clean every 2-4 weeks; and valet clean every 2-3 months.

“The effects of not doing this can range from worsening of dust allergy and allergic rhinitis, all the way to skin infections and worsening of asthma. There can be eye and sinus infections as well as chest infections especially when the radiator is not cleaned.”

So you’ve been warned. Stop being a dirty fecker and get cleaning!


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