Every year, the average American driver spends 17,600 minutes behind the wheel. That statistic, provided by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, doesn’t really matter so much. Sure, Americans drive a lot, right? So consider that for all of those minutes, you are being exposed to about 700 different bacteria strains. CarRentals.com released their dirty car survey and the results will not only shock you, but it’ll all lower your faith in humanity. Because if Americans are actually driving for what is the equivalent of seven 40-hour work weeks, then consider all of the Lyfts, Ubers, and taxis you take when you don’t want to drive. That is really why this study matters.
CarRentals wanted to figure out just how gross and germy the inside of our cars are. No, this is something a car wash won’t fix y’all. The team surveyed 1,000 drivers and found that “a shocking 32 percent of drivers rarely clean out the inside of their vehicle.” Worse than that? “Another 12 percent responded that they never even clean the inside of their car.”
While not all 700 germs can be linked to food, crumbs and dropped edibles are certainly the cause for some of the grime. You know exactly what I mean: scraping off the syrupy residue of a spilled Coca-Cola from your console with the corner of your credit card. The survey also found that about 20 percent of drivers eat in their cars on a weekly basis, despite knowing just how gross it might be. CarRentals went even further and determined the numbers for the average amount of bacteria per square centimeter. These are known as colony-forming units (CFU) and the numbers will make you never want to sit in the front seat or touch your seatbelt buckle again.
Per CarRentals, your steering wheel is six times dirtier than the average cellphone screen. It’s four times dirtier than a public toilet seat, and it’s two times dirtier than a public elevator. The average gas pump handle is 6,428 times dirtier than public elevator buttons and 11,835 times dirtier than a public toilet seat.
So yes, your car is screaming, “Wash me!” Show your wheels some love and actually clean your interior this weekend. I’m betting it’s already reached a new level of grime, and don’t forget to Windex the inside of your car windows. Even your rear window, y’all!