We all clean our bathrooms and kitchens. We all change our sheets and vacuum our carpets. And since we’re all avid readers of UFE, we now know to regularly disinfect surfaces like phones and keyboards that we use every day. So here’s another one to add to your weekly wipe-down: your car.
Most of us use our cars daily, yet when it comes to cleaning we don’t give it the same attention we do other areas. Kitchens and bathrooms are easy to clean because we know they’re dirty, and the same goes for the rest of the house. Functionality alone motivates us to tidy up, put things away – some of us can’t concentrate if even one item is out of place. When it comes to our car, though, we’re much less faithful in our cleanings. And for some of us, this can be a major UFE problem.
When it comes to car cleanliness, there are two kinds of people: the ones that keep their cars pristine, and the ones that…well, don’t. The I’ll-clean-it-when-it-needs-it type. Which then becomes I’ll-clean-it-when-I-get-the-time. Which eventually leads to What-is-that-horrible-smell-I-guess-I-have-to-clean-my-car-now. Whether your car is immaculate, or it’s harboring two week old French fries on the passenger floor, there are some surfaces that are as contaminated in a messy car as they are in a clean one.
Think about when you’re in your car. Your shoes track in water, causing the carpet to mildew and mold. You may be getting off the phone, using the same hand that just touched your feces-riddled touchscreen to turn on the radio. You sneeze all over your dashboard. Your unwashed hands touch the keys, the ignition, the gear shift, and the main offender: the steering wheel. Studies have found steering wheels harbor nine times more germs than a public toilet seat. The trunk of the car is even worse, with almost 13 times more bacteria than a public toilet seat. One of the bacteria, bacillus cereus, can cause food poisoning, so hopefully you aren’t putting your groceries in the trunk.
In an episode of the popular U.K. television program Top Gear, hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond all had their newly-purchased used cars examined by a forensic team. What were the findings? Skin, scabs, blood, mucus, saliva, and – you guessed it – feces.
When you think of how much time the average person spends in their car, it’s a wonder it doesn’t get more sanitary attention. For some, more time is spent in the car than in the house. The same survey that researched the steering wheel contamination also discovered at least 42% of drivers eat while in their car, yet only a third of those drivers clean their car’s interior once a year. Ten percent claimed they do absolutely nothing to clean or sanitize their cars. That’s years worth of dirt and bacteria and mucus and feces building and growing in your car.
So, what do you do? For starters, disinfect. Regularly wipe down your steering wheel, your dashboard, gear shifts, buttons, handles, mirrors – anything and everything you can. Be careful with your garbage – keep it contained, don’t just throw it on the floor. Vacuum often to clean debris tracked in from shoes and garbage. If you can, use seat covers, rugs, and mats that can be washed regularly. In the fast-paced world we live in, our cars have become extensions of our houses and offices, and they should be treated with the same sanitary attention we pay the rest of our environment.