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Your Car and a Public Restroom Have Far Too Much in Common

Hey, you!

Pink plastic bucket containing cleaning products, including cloths, sponge, and disinfectant bottles

Car wash, yeah.

Have you embarked on any spring cleaning projects yet this year? We highly recommend you set aside that well-meaning mattress flip or that grout line reseal and move this one straight to the top of your to-do list, because … your car … it’s just gross.

When’s the last time you cleaned the inside of your car? Like really cleaned it? Even if you’re good about keeping trash and other items from accumulating inside your car, chances are you aren’t the best about germs.

We spend a lot of time in our cars, but don’t give them the attention they need when it comes to cleanup. We do our laundry, wash our dishes, wipe down our tables and counters at home, all while our car sits sullied in the driveway. Researchers at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom tested the insides of 15 vehicles, taking samples from “high-traffic” areas like the steering wheel, carpets, seats, gear shift, and parking brake.

The results weren’t pretty.

Yeast, mold, and a bevy of bacteria, among them staphylococcus, a common cause of food poisoning. Forget your cell phone—your steering wheel has nine times the germs you would find in a public restroom.

If you have kids, or pets, or you eat in your car (which is dangerous as much as dirty)—or you’re simply among the 100 percent who have to come into contact with their cars in order to drive them—it may be time to broaden your horizons on what “car wash” truly means.

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