Why your car is a breeding ground for bugs and dangerous bacteria, including eColi

  • New research finds eColi, Staphylococcus and mould living in Brits’ cars
  • University of Nottingham’s microbiology experts investigate state of the nation’s car hygiene
  • A quarter of Brits (25%) admit to only cleaning their car once every three months
  • Despite incidents of vomiting (10%) and pet ‘accidents’ (7%), nearly two thirds (60%) admit they still eat food in their car

The UK’s cars are a breeding ground for bugs and dangerous bacteria, including staphylococcus and eColi, according to new research from car buying and selling website Carfused.com.

After undertaking research which revealed that nearly one in 10 Brits (8%) admit to having a “dirty” car, Carfused tasked the University of Nottingham to dig deeper and find out what lies beneath the darker recesses of our cars. The Micro-Biology department at the University took swabs from steering wheels, foot wells and seats to find out just what was lurking underneath.

It’s perhaps no surprise that further investigation found bugs like eColi and Staphylococcus, when Brits’ admit to treating their car as a bit of a dumping ground for rubbish. More than half of Brits’ (51%) admit to dropping food in their car and more than a third admit to spilling drinks (35%). A further one in 10 (8%) admit to simply throwing rubbish under their seat without a second thought.

Perhaps even more horrifying is that one in 10 (10%) say someone has vomited in their car, with a similar number of people (7%) admitting that a pet has had an ‘accident’ in their vehicle. Despite these incidents, three-fifths of motorists (60%) say they still eat food in their car – which may explain why just over one in 20 (6%) admit that they have found rotting food in their vehicle.

With all this happening in the cars of Britain, it’s easy to see how cars can become a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. Especially as a quarter (25%) say they only clean their car interior once every three months.

Carfused.com teamed up with Kim Woodburn, one half of cleaning duo Kim & Aggie of TV’s ‘How Clean is Your House’, to take a look at the hidden dangers of using your car as a rubbish bin, and wake the nation up to the risks of having a dirty motor.

Kim Woodburn says: “It feels as if so many Brits don’t think twice about chucking their half-drunk bottles of pop under the seat or leaving tissues which they’ve blown their snotty noses in the foot well of their vehicles. I was absolutely horrified to find some of the gunk that was hidden under some drivers’ seats – and it was really worrying to find the presence of a pathogen that could lead to eColi.”

Whilst nearly half (49%) of Brits take responsibility for the state of their car, more than a third (36%) say their messy motor is the fault of their children.

Even though some parents say they clean their car regularly, nearly one in five (18%) say they see no point in cleaning their car because their kids mess it up every day. And with nearly half (48%) of parents saying a drink has been spilled in their car compared to under a third (29%) of non-parents, it’s no wonder many parents might be exasperated by constantly cleaning their car.

It’s not just children who are getting the blame for the mess – more than one in 10 (11%) blame their friends for making a mess whilst a slightly smaller number (8%) blame their pets.

Kate Rose, Carfused.com spokesperson, says: “You normally hear stories of people taking real pride in their car, cleaning it every weekend and ensuring it’s immaculate at all times. It’s really worrying to see, then, just how dirty people are letting their cars get. We were expecting to find some bad stuff from the University of Nottingham’s testing but we didn’t expect to find bacteria relating to eColi in there.

“With people across the UK using their cars to transport children and friends, it’s worrying to see that they would let their cars get in such a state. The fact that so many say they only clean the interiors of their car once every three months is really worrying. Brits should be taking better care of their cars. By doing so, they will help protect their precious cargo from any bacteria and illness but they will also go some way to helping keep the vehicle’s value when it comes to resale.”