We’re never more aware of germs, bacteria and general nasties, than when we have a baby.  With sterilisation, low immunity and the dread of a sleepless night due to illness at the forefront of our minds, most new mums don’t leave home without some kind of antibacterial wipe, gel or potion to hand!!

Yet whilst you’re worrying about restaurant highchairs, or unpleasant baby changing facilities, has it occurred to you that there’s somewhere that your baby spends a good deal of time that is actually more riddled with germs than your toilet??  Ewwww, yes it’s your child’s car seat!

A recent study* of 2,000 motorists for Continental Tyres, supported by scientists at the University of Birmingham took swabs from 20 cars and homes to compare levels of bacteria and fungi within.  Children’s car seats were found to have twice as many germs as the average toilet….bleuurggh!

Scientists took swabs from safety seats and discovered an average of 100 potentially dangerous bacteria and fungi lurking in each square centimetre.  A toilet, meanwhile, contained around half of that – just 50 germs in the same area.

Bugs found on the car seats included bacteria that can lead to health risks, such as E. coli and Salmonella.  The researchers found that our cars contain more potentially hazardous bacterial and fungal species than anywhere in our homes – not surprisingly when getting from A to B can seem like an expedition when you have little ones in tow!

The study also revealed that almost half of us regularly drive in vehicles full of clutter with one in ten Brits having had an accident or near miss due to the mess in their car.

“Many people are driving around in vehicles which resemble a rubbish tip without realising the hazards.

“To stay safe whilst driving and avoid health risks drivers should regularly clean their cars inside and out. Clutter as well as germs can present a real hazard – for example a can or bottle rolling under a brake pedal would be very serious.”

“Most people wouldn’t dream of using their home as a dumping ground for rubbish as they do with their car. With real safety implications, it’s important car owners perform simple and regular maintenance on the inside, minimising the risks posed by both bacteria and clutter in the cabin.” Mark Griffiths, safety expert at Continental Tyres

The research found that 60 per cent of motorists are totally unaware of the health risks a dirty car poses to them and their passengers.  Around 1 in 5 motorists tidy the inside of their car just once a year, typically prompted by an imminent visit to the garage.  The car footwell was the filthiest area, with several thousand bacteria for every square centimetre.

Dr Anne-Marie Krachler, from the Institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham said: “Cars can play host to a number of potentially harmful bacterial species. These germs can easily spread in cars that are not cleaned often, especially if you eat in the vehicle or leave litter and food.”

However, many Brits do take a dim view of people with dirty cluttered cars, with 40 per cent of us referring to them as ‘slobs’ or ‘lazy’.

Top ten items of clutter we keep in our car:

  1. Broken ice-scraper
  2. Box of tissues
  3. Torch (including broken)
  4. A to Z map
  5. Old blanket
  6. Toolkit
  7. Chamois leather
  8. Chocolate bar wrappers
  9. Out of date map
  10. Old phone charger

We’re willing to be there’s a few children’s books, toys and other baby paraphernalia in yours too!!

*Study September 2014