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Dirty Car Interiors Making us Sick


Dirty Car Interiors Making us Sick
Photo credit: bsabarnowl / Flickr

Some drivers spend almost as many hours each week in the family car as they do at home. Washing the exterior of the vehicle to make sure that it looks nice on the road does not address the health issues lurking inside. Neglect of the interior surfaces can be the cause of recurring illnesses.

Anyone who struggles to recover from respiratory illnesses should consider the reason behind this phenomenon. Enclosed car interiors rely on mechanized air movement to create a false sense of freshness when the heater and air conditioner are operating. Dust mites, mold and germs will circulate throughout the car interior without frequent intervention.

Vinyl and Leather Surfaces

Steering wheels, dashboards and door handles are touched constantly whenever someone enters or leaves the vehicle. Scientists have conducted tests on the interior of many different vehicle surfaces in recent studies, like the one at Queen Mary University in London. On average, tests revealed the presence of 700 different bacterial strains.

Solution: Vinyl and leather surfaces require gentle cleaning to retain the protective coating that sustains the integrity of the covering against heat, cold and sunshine. Refrain from using bleach-based cleaners on these fragile surfaces. Years of life can be stolen from the car interior with improper cleaning methods according to Samarins.

Cloth Upholstery

Spills on the cloth seats are difficult to control because of the movement of the vehicle when the spill occurs. Maintaining a steady supply of towels for quick cleanup will reduce the amount of foreign matter that collects in the cloth. Dust mites feed on these substances. People who suffer from allergies will experience discomfort when riding in a vehicle where dust mites have found a healthy food source.

Solution: Upholstery cleaning is important in the car just as it is in the family room in the house. Some car washes offer this service for a reasonable fee. Strong suction from the steam cleaners at the car wash will remove most of the moisture from the seats. Cleaning agents should be designed to address stains on fabrics.


Germs accumulate in the floor mats, trunk lining and carpet that lines the interior of most vehicles. All of these areas are used throughout the normal week of family life. According to the AOL Autos Staff, continuous exposure to these germs can increase the occurrence of colds and flu for the entire family.

Solution: Cleaning the carpet inside the car is essential to reduce the presence of germs that can be passed between people. Addressing the cleanliness of the carpet improves the appearance, but more importantly, the closed environment inside the vehicle will be healthier for every passenger and the driver. According to Samarins, the same cleaning agents that are used on the upholstery will remove stains from automobile carpets.


A visit to the car wash might address the condition of the exterior window glass. Most people do not spend enough time shining up the inside surface of the glass. Touching the glass happens constantly without the car occupants realizing the habit of touching the glass. Germs and bacteria are left behind with each unintentional touch. Reducing the number of germs inside the car starts with clean surfaces on the most reachable portion of each door.

Solution: Attention to the interior glass improves the view through the glass and reduces the occurrence of illness for the occupants. Samarins recommends glass cleaners for the external auto glass that will remove streaks. Interior cleaners must not have harsh odors since many people are allergic to ammonia and other cleaning agents.

Frequent Cleaning is Easier

Too many drivers claim to be too busy to address the state of the car interior. Weekly cleaning sessions should be conducted on each of the family cars regardless of the season. Thorough cleaning will reduce the frequency of illness for the primary occupant of the car. Anyone who drives around town constantly will want to invest in the proper tools required to clean the crevices in the vehicle. Professionals will address the large areas, but attention to detail is important when the automobile owner is waging war against microscopic enemies.

Deep Cleaning Requires Patience

Popular Mechanics offers 34 detailed steps for cleaning the interior of any vehicle. Drivers will find suggestions for many common problems, such as melted crayons, ground in soil and grimy crevices. During allergy and flu seasons, additional attention should be paid to cleaning the car interior frequently. Hand sanitizer should be present in the car to allow each person to have cleaner hands and leave fewer germs.

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