Published: 24/08/2020
  • New research using contamination tests by reveal how cars are harbouring dirt
  • Car stereos are nearly four times (371%) dirtier than a toilet seat, followed by the gear stick which harbours over three times (331%) more dirt
  • Family car interiors may be twice as dirty (196%) as a worker’s van

21 August 2020 – New research by reveals how parts of our cars are harbouring disturbing amounts of dirt, with the stereo unveiled as the area containing the most bacteria. With people spending an average of four years of their life in a car, and being in clean environments more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, swabbed ten key touchpoints in ten different vehicles to discover whether our cars are as clean as we think they are. 

Following the testing, reveals that the five dirtiest areas of cars are as follows: 

Rank Area of car
1 Stero
2 Gear stick
3 Indicator 
4 Steering wheel
5 Handbrake


To provide a comparison, also swabbed an office toilet seat to determine how the levels of bacteria compared to that of inside cars. This revealed that car stereos are on average 371%  –  nearly four times – dirtier than a toilet seat. Gear sticks were also revealed to be over three times, or 331%, dirtier than a toilet seat. 
The research also compared parts of a family car to that of a worker’s van. Surprisingly, parts of the family car were shown to be twice as dirty as the work van. The inside door handle of the family car had 196% more dirt than the van, while the car mirror was 52% dirtier. 

Dan Hutson, head of motor insurance at, said:

“During the COVID-19- pandemic, it has never been more important to uphold good hygiene standards, such as washing your hands thoroughly and disinfecting surfaces. As our research shows, it is important that people don’t forget to disinfect their cars, as they can harbour far more bacteria than one might expect. It is good practice to clean the inside of cars with chemical cleaning products, microfibre cloths, and a vacuum cleaner. Wiping down car surfaces in the same way that you may clean your kitchen or door handles in the home is paramount in order to avoid the spread of germs and bacteria.” 
“On top of this, dirty cars aren’t just health issues: they can also lead to accidents. For example, a dirty windscreen or mess on the dashboard can impair vision and make it harder to see upcoming objects on the road. In fact, in extreme cases, a dirty and untidy car could even invalidate your car insurance if you are in an accident.”

To find out more about the research, go to: 


Swabs undertaken in July 2020.  
Swabs were taken using hygiena’s UltraSnap Surface ATP Test and EnSURE Touch monitoring system to determine RLU results. 
The dirtiest areas of vehicles are based on RLU (Relative Light Units). The RLU reading is based on the amount of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) collected from the sample. The relationship between the amount of ATP on the sample and the RLU result reading is simple: High contamination (improper cleaning) = large amount of ATP = more light produced in reaction= high RLU reading on EnSURE. 
The following ten vehicles were analysed: Corsa, Ford Fiesta, Fiat Punto, Vauxhall Vivaro (work van), BMW, Nissan, Audi, Range Rover, Kia Rio (family car), and Mitsubishi.  
The following ten interiors were swabbed: stereo, gearstick, indicator, steering wheel, handbrake, driver seatbelt and seat, inside door handle, windscreen, and mirror.    
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