When it comes to maintaining your vehicle, you might diligently adhere to regular oil changes, tire pressure checks, and fluid top-ups. However, there are overlooked aspects that could potentially jeopardize your health. Could your car unknowingly be impacting your well-being?
Consider the instances of runny noses you’ve wiped, drinks spilled on floor mats, and crumbs tucked away in corners. These situations reveal more than meets the eye.
Even with meticulous car cleaning practices, certain health risks could be lurking beneath the surface. Could it be time for your car to undergo a comprehensive checkup? Discover the potential health hazards within your vehicle and the steps you can take to address them.
1. Your Car: A Mobile Petri Dish
While you may be vigilant about disinfecting high-touch surfaces in your home, have you extended the same attention to your car’s interior? Shockingly, car interiors can host a multitude of germs. A study by CarRentals.com revealed that the average vehicle is home to around 700 strains of bacteria. For instance, the average steering wheel harbors approximately 629 colony-forming units (CFU) per square centimeter. To put this in perspective, a steering wheel is six times dirtier than a typical cell phone screen (100 CFU) and four times dirtier than a public toilet seat (172 CFU).
Remedy: Keep a pack of disinfecting wipes in your car to ensure swift clean-ups on the go. Regularly disinfect your car’s interior using antibacterial wipes or disinfectant spray, coupled with a microfiber cloth. Target all touchpoints, including the steering wheel, seat belt buckle, gear shift, cup holders, door handles, dashboard, buttons, and touchscreens.
2. The Importance of a Clean Air Filter
Your car’s air filter serves as a barrier against contaminants, preventing them from entering your vehicle’s HVAC system and ultimately your lungs. A clogged air filter can permit particles like dust, dirt, and pollen to infiltrate, particularly impacting those with allergies or breathing difficulties. Symptoms such as a sore throat, congestion, or sneezing could be indicators of a compromised air filter.
Remedy: Replace your cabin air filter annually, ideally just before allergy season, to reduce your exposure to allergens and contaminants.
3. Combatting Mold in A/C Vents
Mold and mildew thrive within air conditioning vents, particularly during high humidity periods like summer. These spores can be dispersed into your car’s cabin when you activate the A/C or heat, potentially leading to irritation, coughing, and sneezing.
Remedy: To mitigate mold growth, run your car’s heat with the vents closed for approximately 10 minutes. Employ a long brush to clean vents and remove mold. If moldy odors persist, consult a mechanic for professional cleaning and mold treatment.
4. Contaminant Infiltration
Despite your air filter’s efforts, exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke, and other pollutants can still permeate your cabin. These contaminants may trigger symptoms such as coughing, a sore throat, or headaches.
Remedy: Recirculate cabin air by using the A/C controls’ recirculation symbol or arrow-turning button, keeping outside contaminants at bay.
5. Driving Comfort and Health
Your driving posture can significantly impact your well-being, potentially leading to discomfort or pain in areas like your neck, back, shoulders, or sciatic region.
Remedy: Adopt proper driving posture and take breaks to stretch your body, especially during long journeys.
Prioritizing your vehicle’s health can unearth previously unnoticed health risks. By addressing these concerns, you can create a safer and healthier environment for your travels.