Sorry, but your car is a breeding ground for germs.
We wouldn’t leave our pets or babies in a hot car and research shows that perhaps we would be better off not leaving accessories behind either.
A study conducted by the microbiology team at London Metropolitan University, on behalf of the car leasing company Leasing Options, has found that dangerous germs begin to breed on everyday items within days.
With a summer that has been hotter than average, surpassing Greece’s weather in July, temperatures inside cars have reached a scorching 33C.
And with greater heat comes greater germs.
Researchers looked at 16 items in total and found fungi on sunglasses, toxic mould on carrier bags and life-threatening bacteria on coins.
While many people leave drinks or snacks in the car, it turns out non-food items can harbour more harmful bacteria.
Sunglasses, gym clothes, receipts and loose change were revealed to contain bacteria that can cause infections and difficulty for people with catheters or other surgical implants.
Meanwhile it is suggested that glasses are often highly contaminated with the staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria, which can cause an infection for those with weakened immune systems.
Dog toys can be essential for long journeys or visits to the park but leaving them in your car might not be the best idea.
The germs serratia marcescens, often found in damp conditions – like a wet dog toy – can cause disease after entering the human body and resists common antibiotics.
The bacteria found on carrier bags contain grown green mould which is a toxic substance that can be dangerous to our respiratory health, particularly if you have asthma or allergies.
In the study, sweaty gym clothes and dirty trainers also produced significant amounts of bacteria.
After just a couple of days, these petri dishes produced a variety of germs, showing just how dirty our workout gear can be.
Fortunately, sweat bacteria is normally harmless (apart from the smell).
But trainers are riskier, especially if you like running or outdoor gym classes and can contain faecal pieces (think dog poo) or even E.coli.
Additionally, the microbiology team found that loose change harbours life-threatening bacteria linked with superbugs.
Coins are apparently a ‘breeding ground for harmful bacteria’ with ‘many microorganisms thriving on metal’.
Mould also grows on our leftover shopping receipts, which can produce toxic substances that irritate allergies and asthma, so make sure to bin your receipts when you no longer need them.
And a swab from a dummy (or pacifier) left in a car indicated signs of a yeast bacteria, which is common for babies who can get oral thrush (it’s normally harmless and can be treated with medicine).
Many people are also guilty of leaving water bottles in their car, however you should refrain from drinking any leftover liquid.
Not only will it be warm and gross – which should be reason enough – but plastic in heat can be dangerous as it might release toxic chemicals in hotter conditions.
It might be time to check what you’ve got lurking around inside your car and get rid of it for good.
How to keep your car germ-free
If you are guilty of leaving things behind in the car, Leasing Options has a list of things you can do to prevent bacteria breeding in your vehicle.
1. Have a clear out – dispose of your rubbish and tidy away anything you want to keep.
2. Recycle as much as possible, including food packaging, water bottles and coffee cups.
3. Remove your floor mats and clean them with hot soapy water, and then allow to dry.
4. Vacuum any crumbs or dirt from the floor and on the seats.
5. Wipe the windows with cleaning solution and a microfibre cloth.
6. Clean the dashboard and steering wheel thoroughly with antibacterial wipes.
7. Check your door pockets for forgotten items and wipe away any grime.
8. Clean the handles, seatbelts and window switches with antibacterial wipes.
9. Wipe down anything you might like to keep in the car, like a child’s toy.
10. Keep a handy hygiene kit in the glove box, including antibacterial wipes and hand gel.
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