Livin' on the MDedge

Tiny hitchhikers like to ride in the trunk


Junk (germs) in the trunk

It’s been a long drive, and you’ve got a long way to go. You pull into a rest stop to use the bathroom and get some food. Quick, which order do you do those things in?

If you’re not a crazy person, you’d use the bathroom and then get your food. Who would bring food into a dirty bathroom? That’s kind of gross. Most people would take care of business, grab food, then get back in the car, eating along the way. Unfortunately, if you’re searching for a sanitary eating environment, your car may not actually be much better than that bathroom, according to new research from Aston University in Birmingham, England.

Car trunk full of groceries Robert Couse-Baker/PxHere

Let’s start off with the good news. The steering wheels of the five used cars that were swabbed for bacteria were pretty clean. Definitely cleaner than either of the toilet seats analyzed, likely thanks to increased usage of sanitizer, courtesy of the current pandemic. It’s easy to wipe down the steering wheel. Things break down, though, once we look elsewhere. The interiors of the five cars all contained just as much, if not more, bacteria than the toilet seats, with fecal matter commonly appearing on the driver’s seat.

The car interiors were less than sanitary, but they paled in comparison with the real winner here: the trunk. In each of the five cars, bacteria levels there far exceeded those in the toilets, and included everyone’s favorites – Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

So, snacking on a bag of chips as you drive along is probably okay, but the food that popped out of its bag and spent the last 5 minutes rolling around the back? Perhaps less okay. You may want to wash it. Or burn it. Or torch the entire car for good measure like we’re about to do. Next time we’ll buy a car without poop in it.

Shut the lid when you flush

Maybe you’ve never thought about this, but it’s actually extremely important to shut the toilet lid when you flush. Just think of all those germs flying around from the force of the flush. Is your toothbrush anywhere near the toilet? Ew. Those pesky little bacteria and viruses are everywhere, and we know we can’t really escape them, but we should really do our best once we’re made aware of where to find them.

Toilet being flushed Marco Verch/ by 2.0

It seems like a no-brainer these days since we’ve all been really focused on cleanliness during the pandemic, but according to a poll in the United Kingdom, 55% of the 2,000 participants said they don’t put the lid down while flushing.

The OnePoll survey commissioned by Harpic, a company that makes toilet-cleaning products, also advised that toilet water isn’t even completely clean after flushed several times and can still be contaminated with many germs. Company researchers took specialized pictures of flushing toilets and they looked like tiny little Fourth of July fireworks shows, minus the sparklers. The pictures proved that droplets can go all over the place, including on bathroom users.

“There has never been a more important time to take extra care around our homes, although the risks associated with germ spread in unhygienic bathrooms are high, the solution to keeping them clean is simple,” a Harpic researcher said. Since other studies have shown that coronavirus can be found in feces, it’s become increasingly important to keep ourselves and others safe. Fireworks are pretty, but not when they come out of your toilet.


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