It may come as a big and uncomfortable surprise to learn that a steering wheel is actually the breeding ground for over 11 times more bacteria than a public toilet! Research has proved that a typical steering wheel had an average of 700 kinds of bacteria compared to the 60 types found on a public toilet seat.
In a recent study carried out in the U.K., microbiologists randomly tested 25 cars. They checked both the interiors and the trunks, and found that the typical British automobile contained around 285 types of bacteria in every square inch of the vehicle. They also found that most of the bacteria came from dead skin cells and soil on shoes, hands, or animal paws.
Anthony Hilton, the microbiologist from Ashton University who led the research, said: “Our study found organisms in a car that are not uncommon to be found around a toilet. If someone gave you some food to eat while you were sitting on the toilet, you would be repulsed.”
However, the fact is that people eat and drink in their cars as a matter of routine, and never consider the consequences.
Food is not the only source of bacterial infection; microbes can also enter the vehicle through the air and heating vents. However, motor manufacturers are beginning to address that problem, and many of the latest models have more sophisticated ventilation systems with pollen or bacteriological filters to block airborne particles.
Of course, the problem of bacteria is not confined to British cars. American cars aren’t any cleaner. Microbiologist Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona conducted a larger study in 2006, checking out 100 vehicles in five states. He and his colleagues swabbed the interiors of 100 automobiles and took samples from 11 different areas in each car. They found the top spots for germs were dashboards, change holders, cup holders and childrens’ car seats. A major source of bacteria came from food spills in various locations. Obviously, the areas touched with the hands housed the most germs.
There’s no doubt that one of the main reasons a car gathers germs is because few people clean the interiors well or disinfect them. The potential dangers of sitting in a vehicle surrounded by bacteria has created a demand for products to deal with the problem.
A spokesperson for Xzilon, which was one of the first companies to recognize the need for a solution, said: “People don’t understand, but a car can be one of the best places for bacteria to thrive. You transfer so many bacteria to your steering wheel for instance, and don’t even know it. Think of all the things you do in the privacy of your car. Eat, bite your nails, put on mascara.
“You’re constantly coming into contact with those bacteria, and with 700 different kinds living on your steering wheel, there’s a good chance you’re indirectly placing them in your mouth or eyes. It’s important to constantly disinfect, and a product like Xzilon Microbe Protect, gives you the protection you need.”
Jill Holdsworth is an infection preventionist and president of the DC Metro Chapter of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. She confirmed that the confined space in a car is a potential breeding ground for bacteria to pass back and forth if you don’t take care.
“The No. 1 hot spots would be anywhere that you touch with your hands,” Holdsworth said. These areas include the steering wheel, radio, gear shift, cup holders and car seats.
Defending yourself and your family from exposure to the danger of infection is relatively simple. For example, using a product from the range of Xzilon protective automotive applications can protect the interior and ventilation system of cars against the effects of germs arising from all sources.
Now that you know what is really going on in your car, do you think you will be able to look at your steering wheel in the same way ever again?
Featured image: preparednessPro