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• Steering wheels are filthy! Just think about how many times you've sneezed into your hands, or touched a dirty surface, then grabbed your steering wheel. According to a study conducted by researchers at the Queen Mary University in London, steering wheels are teeming with bacteria. As a matter of fact, steering wheels can harbor roughly nine times as many germs as you might encounter on a public toilet seat. Have mercy! "Most people clean their homes but many are neglecting to clean their cars and are driving around in vehicles which resemble a rubbish bin," says lead study author Dr. Ron Culter. Wipe down your steering wheel daily with a bleach-free, disinfecting wipe that can be used on hard, nonporous surfaces, one that kills viruses and bacteria. Keeping not only your steering wheel clean but any knobs, handbrakes, levers, buttons, and door handles as well is particularly important during cold and flu season.
• Food spills can give you the sniffles. Spilled food in a vehicle only results in a festering of germs and dangerous bacteria like E.coli and staphylococcus. Reportedly, more than half of car owners have dropped food onto seats, carpets, seatbelts and nooks and crannies and one in 20 have stumbled upon grossly rotting food. The spilled morsels in vehicles make for a nice welcoming environment for bugs and mold. Vacuuming up all car food spills, then following up with a bleach-free disinfectant wipe and letting the area dry completely will keep organisms like mold from growing. For allergy sufferers, keeping the hand vac ready and giving a vehicle a once-over often will help suck up sneeze inducers like pollen brought into the car.
• Got a dirty car seat? Kids and car seats equal germs that can run amuck. Little ones do everything in their car seats that can make germaphobes want to gulp down sanitizer nonstop! Children poop, pee, drop food, heave, and spill milk in their car seats. Luckily, car seat manufacturers make the covers removable so that they can be tossed in the washer. The question remains however, how many parents bother to regularly wash their children's car seats? Well, a study conducted by Dr. Charles P. Gerba, professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona and a leading authority on germs, found that car seats have enough bacteria on them to make a child sick with an ear infection or even strep throat. Gerba recommends, car seat covers be washed a few times a month. He also stresses, parents should not forget to wash the seat's plastic shell and harness weekly with mild soapy water, more often if the child is sick. Shaking out and vacuuming the car seat regularly to rid it of food particles is also a smart, illness prevention measure.