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Healthy Habits: How-Tos

The Worst Germ Hot Spots in Your Car

Do you know what they are? Read this before you hit the road this summer and fall.

Your car is a germ magnet. So if you're gearing up for summer and fall road trips, read on for the top spots where germs like to hang out in your car -- and be sure to wipe them down and stay safe and healthy!

1. Your cup holder.
According to research conducted by Charles P. Gerba, Ph.D., professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, the No. 1 bacteria-ridden spot in your car is your cup holder. Keep a tube of antibacterial wipes in one of your cup holders to remind yourself to disinfect this space regularly. “We found that if people have them handy, they’ll use them,” says Gerba.

2. The steering wheel.
While cup holders were contaminated with the most bacteria, Gerba’s research showed that steering wheels had the highest frequency of staphylococcus aureus, a particular variety of bacteria that can cause antibiotic-resistant staph infections. Since you can’t avoid touching the steering wheel, wipe it down frequently.

3. Seat belts.
After the steering wheel, seat belts were found to have the highest incidence of staphylococcus aureus. Make sure to use a cleaning product designated for seat belts, such as C-28 Seat Belt Cleaner and Spot Remover. This type of product will remove bacteria without compromising the quality of your seat belt.

4. Everything else you touch often.
Other places you should wipe down regularly: your dashboard, the window openers, door handles, radio knobs and any children’s car seats you use. While you may not think to clean these areas, they’re ones you touch most regularly, so  bacteria accumulates quickly.

Tip: Put on hand sanitizer as soon as you get in your car.
You’ll be less likely to track in germs from the outside. If you’re on carpool duty, have everyone use hand sanitizer too as soon as they take their seats. “Kids’ hands get full of germs when they’re playing,” Gerba says. “They can carry cold or flu virus and contaminate surfaces in the car.”

Robin Hilmantel is an associate editor at Food Network Magazine. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, USA Today and Maxim, among other publications. She is a frequent contributor to Completely You.

Also read: Quiz: Are You Brushing Your Teeth Wrong?

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