Microbiologists find faecal matter, bugs, germs and bacteria lurking on handbrakes and steering wheels

A study has revealed just how dirty the nation’s cars really are.  With the help of the The University of Nottingham’s Microbiology Investigation Centre, car interiors were swabbed and sent for analysis with some shocking results.

Amid the shards of fingernails, pet hairs and crisp packets, the cars of students, parents, office workers and van drivers were all found to be contaminated by an array of microorganisms. This included environmental bacteria, yeasts, moulds and potential E.coli (found in faecal matter or poo to me and you). Additionally, Staphylococcus bacteria, commonly found on the skin, were identified.

Shockingly, one in 14 (7%) drivers have even witnessed their pets having ‘toilet accidents’ in their motor vehicles during a journey. And it’s not just animals that seem to cause drivers problems, with one in ten (10%) Brits revealing that they have had a passenger vomit in their car.

However, whilst passengers can be the bane of many motorists lives, the findings reveal that nearly half of the people surveyed (49%) candidly state they’re responsible for the poor state of their car – citing the foot wells (32%) and boot (22%) as the dirtiest parts. However, others accuse their children (36%) and grubby friends (10%). Almost one in 10 (9%) say they’re reluctant to clean their cars on a regular basis, especially since their kids will mess it up again.

Worryingly, a quarter of motorists (25%) admitted to only cleaning their car interior once every three months, with a further 8% saying they never bother to at all! This is all the more surprising as half of Brits (51%) have dropped food in their car, whilst 35% recall drinks being spilled or muddy clothes being worn (32%).

Almost three in five people (58%) take full responsibility for cleaning their cars themselves, while others are lazier. They prefer to pay for a professional wash (32%) or pass the chore on to their partner (18%) or children (7%). One in eight (13%) blame the expense of visiting the car wash for their dirty ways.

It seems that despite the nation’s dirty habits when it comes to maintaining their own cars, many raise their standards when it comes to purchasing a new set of wheels. Understandably, one in five Brits (20%) would pay less for a car if it appeared unclean. And one in 20 (5%) even said they viewed a used car and was shocked at how dirty it was inside.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com 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.

“The fact that so many say they only clean the interiors of their car once every three months is quite disconcerting. By taking better care of their cars British drivers will help protect their precious cargo from any bacteria and illness but they will also go some way to helping keep the vehicle value when it comes to resale.”