How clean do you think the inside of your car is?
Most people think their car is cleaner than most other everyday items, but cars can get filthy and germy. According to research out of the UK, car interiors were found to be 50% dirtier than appliances such as keyboards or smartphones. Swabs collected from handbrakes and other frequently-touched areas in the car carried a higher density of bacteria than smartphone screens or even computer keyboards.
Despite this research, many drivers believe their cars are one of the cleanest things they own, yet out of 2,000 people questioned, 80% cleaned the inside of their cars once a month or less.
Dr. Lisa Ackerly, known as The Hygiene Doctor in the UK, says, “When you think of all the unhygienic things you see people doing while driving, like picking their noses, coughing onto the steering wheel, and eating food, we really ought to be cleaning the insides of our cars more, particularly the hand contact surfaces.”
Besides the dubious hygiene practices people practice in their cars, as noted by Dr. Ackerly, there are a few other ways our cars pick up dirt and germs. A study by Kimberly-Clark in 2015 investigating bacterial hot spots in the workplace pointed to gas pumps as one of the unhealthiest things you can handle. It’s probably no great surprise that gas pump handles, and buttons aren’t exactly pristine – as a matter of fact, 71% of all gas pump handles and buttons sampled were “highly contaminated” with the sorts of microbes most highly associated with illness and disease. In addition to the chemical contamination that comes from the gasoline itself, think about the sheer number of people endlessly grabbing the pump, often after returning from a pit stop from a gas station bathroom of dubious cleanliness.
A study by Kimberly-Clark in 2015 investigating bacterial hot spots in the workplace pointed to gas pumps as one of the unhealthiest things you can handle.
Does the type of gas you select safeguard you in any way? To a small degree, yes. The sampling showed that the buttons for regular gas contained the most soil, as you would expect, while the more expensive types of gases had progressively less. Since a typical visit to the gas station involves pressing the gas button as well as lifting the pump handle, that means you are picking up a lot of potential bad germs on your hands. This study suggests a bottle of hand sanitizer in the glove compartment isn’t such a bad idea.
Electric car owners, rejoice! Typical car chargers contained significantly less soil and germs than gas pump buttons and handles.
If you want to minimize your exposure to gas pump germs, use a paper towel to hold the handle and push the button, keep that hand sanitizer or wet naps pack close and wash your hands after filling up.
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