WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- We Americans take pride in our cars, and who doesn't love one that is all spick-and-span?
But don't let that squeaky clean look deceive you! Hitching on for a ride can be all sorts of bacteria, mold, viruses, and dust mites. This can really make a difference during the peak flu and allergy seasons.
Infection Preventionist Jill Holdsworth is the President of the DC Metro Chapter of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). She says the car can be a very big place to pass bacteria back and forth if you are not careful.
Holdsworth says, "The number one hotspots would be anywhere that you touch with your hands." These areas include the steering wheel, radio, gear shift, cup holders and car seats.
Car interiors are often overlooked for disinfecting and deep cleaning.
A study conducted several years ago by experts at Queen Mary University in London shows an average of 700 different kinds of bacteria within car interiors, compared to 60 types in the average public toilet.
Holdsworth says, "I would always keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer, I would always keep a disinfectant wipe."
Keep wipes in the car and wipe down the common areas regularly (steering wheel, radio, gear shift).
If you don't disinfect, those germs in your car can easily spread the cold and flu viruses along with gastrointestinal illnesses like norovirus.
APIC just launched a "Infection Prevention and You" website to provide information about preventing infections: www.apic.org/infectionpreventionandyou. The site provides lots of consumer tips for infection prevention at home, in public, and in healthcare facilities.
Jill conducted a car interior germ test with WUSA9 and the results will astound you, check the video link above.