Is Your Car Making You Sick?

If you’re constantly on the go, your car can feel like your second home. But your vehicle can be carrying some uninvited passengers: illness-causing bacteria. Do you know what’s riding in your car? Find out how to keep your family healthy on the road and beyond.

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For busy parents, cars are full of kids and groceries, meals and snacks, toys, clothes and sporting goods. Yet within this seemingly-innocuous flurry of activity, your vehicle can also be transporting illness-causing bacteria like diarrhea-causing E.coli, Enterobacteria (feces), Serratia (vomit), and Aspergillus niger, the mold that exacerbates asthma. Dr. Oz explains which areas of your car are hot spots for pathogens, and how to keep your ride safe for caravanning.


Germ Hot Spot #1:
Car Mats. Your shoes track in an array of bacteria from the ground. These germs burrow into the fibers of the mat and can contaminate the bottom of your clothes. Anytime you drop a lipstick or some change and feel around on the mat, you risk contaminating yourself.

Safe Solution: Replace carpet mats with rubber, removable car mats. These are easy to take out of your car and cleanse with soap and water.

Germ Hot Spot #2: The Driver’s Seat (including the steering wheel and interior door handles.) Your steering wheel becomes a repository for anything that’s on your hands. Anytime you eat in the car, your fingers touch food and the steering wheel, directly exposing you to bacteria.

Safe Solution: Regularly wipe off the wheel and seat area using anti-bacterial wipes or a foaming car cleanser, which can be found at local hardware stores.

Germ Hot Spot #3: In Between the Seats. Kids (and adults) can drop food in between the seats, which can burrow into your car’s cracks and crevices. This dark, enclosed area becomes the perfect environment for growing bacteria.

Safe Solution: Keep a small cooler in the car to cut down on food debris. Additionally, clean your car once a week with a vacuum upholstery attachment to reach into the cracks and crevices.

Germ Hot Spot #4: Air Conditioning Vents. When humidity is high, particularly in the summer, water accumulates in the vents. This moisture allows fungi to bloom.

Safe Solution: Eliminate water by using a long brush with a cloth around it that can reach into the vent to clean out spores. You can also kill fungi by putting the heat on for 10 minutes and having a mechanic change your filter every year.