Doctor Oz did a segment called “Is Your Car Making You Sick?” because so many of us are spending hours upon hours in a car that could be making us sick. For a lot of us, our car is like a second home, and our vehicles are like a massive bacteria trap. Dr Oz did an investigation to see what germs are found in our cars. He sent someone to Montclair, NJ to swab 5 random cars in 5 random locations. Dr Oz had them swab the car mats, steering wheel and handles, cracks and crevices between the seats and the air conditioning vents. Then the samples were sent to Dr. Philip Tierno to analyze them for germs and bacteria.
Dr Oz: Germ Hot Spots in Your Car
Germ Hot Spot #1: Car Mats
Dr Philip Tierno told Dr Oz that all sorts of germs were found in the car mats, because you step on sidewalks, in soil, over human feces, vomit and urine… and then this gets deposited on your car floor mats. Tierno found Enterobacteria and Serratia on the car floor mats, which are fecal organisms and indicators that feces was present. Tierno told Dr Oz that these can cause stomach flu viruses among other health problems. One solution is to use rubber floor mats, because these can be cleaned with soap and water periodically, whereas carpets do not release germs as well and are harder to clean.
Germ Hot Spot #2: Steering Wheel & Handles
Tierno told Dr Oz that 80% of all infections are transmitted by contact, and the places you touch most often with your hands are the steering wheel, handles on the door and window opening handle or buttons. Tierno found E. Coli and this is an indication that fecal matter and other bad organisms are present. You can get diarrhea from E. Coli. Possible solutions are to use antibacterial wipes (look for ones that contain chlorine though), foaming car cleaner and rubbing alcohol.
Germ Hot Spot #3: Cracks & Crevices Between Seats
Dr Oz knows that the depository for food and crumbs is in the cracks and crevices between seats. Dr. Tierno found spores of Aspergillus Niger, which can trigger Asthma and Allergies. You should vacuum your car, especially between the seats. Also, it helps if you keep a cooler in the back of your car so that you can compartmentalize food and keep crumbs from spreading all over your car.
Germ Hot Spot #4: Air Conditioning Vents
Most cars have air condition filters, but especially during the summer when the humidity is higher, water can accumulate in the air conditioning vents and you can get fungal blooms. You have two options to fix this. One, you can clean the air conditioning vents with a brush. Two, you can turn the heater on periodically for around 10 minutes to kill off the mold and fungus.