Dirty Dashboards

By Teresa Iqbal

April 3, 2017 5 min read

Our vehicles are constantly being invaded by germs. Cars are used for everything from transporting people and pets to groceries, work supplies and sporting goods, so it's no wonder that they are filled with a multitude of bacteria. There are important steps to take to keep your vehicle clean, so take note if you hope to avoid what can quickly become a very unsanitary ride.

*Don't Let Trash Hit the Floor

When you're in a hurry, it's easy to stuff trash into your car's nooks and crannies, but since vehicles are subjected to extreme temperatures at times, this can create a larger problem than anticipated. Food wrappers and containers in particular can fester bacteria in high temperatures, which can be unhealthy to breath in or simply unappealing to smell. There are a number of automobile trash cans on the market that can keep trash smells contained to one central area and keep unnecessary germs away from the surfaces that you touch. There are also a number of make-shift trash cans that you can pull together quickly if you're looking to avoid spending the extra money. Empty tissue boxes are great places to keep a minimal amount of trash, and they can be tossed once they're full, especially if they've acquired some especially yucky substances over time. An empty plastic cereal container lined with a plastic bag is another great tool for keeping trash and smells contained and their slim design allows them to fit easily in most cars.

*Be Mindful of What Goes In

There are a number of items that have an even larger potential for tracking in dangerous bacteria than others. Perhaps the hardest one to avoid is our shoes. Of course, our shoes encounter a number of surfaces every single day. The simple act of knocking your shoes outside of the car every time before you step into your vehicle can very likely decrease the risk of tracking in some of these germs. You can also switch to rubber foot mats, which are easier to clean and don't trap germs as easily as carpet does. Other things that go into your vehicle and likely bring various types of bacteria with them include raw meat, produce, dirty laundry and sporting goods. It's important to keep these items as separated from the surfaces in your vehicle as possible. Bacteria from something like a gym bag or running shoes can easily transfer onto and contaminate other items such as food or baby items. Being diligent about keeping these kinds of surfaces sanitized is key in keeping bacteria at bay.

*Treat Your Car Like Your House

This means you can't assume that your car is safe from the dangers that you encounter at home. If a family member is sick and spends time in your vehicle, take the time to carefully sanitize any cold germs that may have been left behind. Being in an enclosed space in close proximity to such germs can be particularly detrimental to your health.

*Find the High-Traffic Areas

For many, the steering wheel, trunk, and keys are important areas to pay attention to when it comes to finding the source for germs in your car. Considering the number of germs that we touch on a daily basis, it makes perfect sense that your steering wheel is a breeding ground for a number of germs-some studies claim to have found up to 700 species of bacteria on one steering wheel. This includes staphylococcus-commonly known as staph, which is highly contagious to humans. Keeping hand sanitizer easily accessible and diligently using it can aid in greatly reducing the amount of bacteria that you bring into your car. Considering the number of different items that accumulate near the dashboard, center console, and cup holders, it's suggested by experts that these areas be a focal point for deep cleaning and sanitizing. In particular, the fact that air is almost constantly being pushed across your dashboard, this can allow bacteria to breed more easily. It's recommended that you detoxify your vehicle on occasion. This can be done by leaving the windows down for any period of time, or even driving with the windows down. Allowing fresh, clean air into your vehicle is an easy way to clear your car of built up bacteria or mold.

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