Grab those disinfecting wipes! 

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated June 11, 2019
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Take a guess: what do you think the germiest spot in your car is? According to a recent online survey of 1,271 U.S. adults conducted by CloroxPro, Baby Boomers (65 percent) and Gen Xers (67 percent) were most likely to think that the steering wheel was the germiest spot in their cars. After the steering wheel, most of those surveyed assumed that the driver's side door handle would also be a hotbed of bacteria. While the survey shows that most of us predict that the areas of the car interior we touch most often will be the germiest, a swab test for bacteria, yeast, and mold revealed some very different results. Below are four of the scientifically-proven germiest areas in your car, plus how to disinfect them properly.

Driver's Side Floor Mats

According to the swab test, the #1 germiest spot (measured by bacteria, yeast, and mold) in the car is the floor mat on the driver's side. Luckily, we don't touch this area too often, so we probably don't need to worry too much about keeping it completely germ-free. But for those times when we accidentally drop our keys, follow these steps to keep your floor mats fresh: Remove the mats and shake them out, then sprinkle them with baking soda. Let the baking soda sit for half an hour before vacuuming it up. If there are lingering stains, you may need to bring in some specialized carpet and car mat cleaners.

The Trunk of the Car

After the floor mats, the trunk of the car showed the second highest concentration of germs. If you only stash camping gear and dirty shoes in the back of your car, it makes sense that this area gets germy—but if you ever transport a birthday cake or a potluck dish in the trunk, it may be time to rethink your car cleaning routine. Start by vacuuming up any dirt and debris, and if the trunk has a removable carpet pad, take it out and follow the steps above to refresh them. Really want to make sure this area is germ-free? Opt for a professional car cleaning with interior detailing.

And now that we know how germy this spot gets, it's a smart idea to invest in a mat you can set down when transporting food in the trunk.

Front Seat Cup Holder

Grimy with spilled coffee, food crumbs, and collected dirt, the front seat cup holder came in a close third for the germiest spot in the car (with a whopping 1,179 microbes found). And unlike the floor mat or trunk which we may not touch too often, many of us likely use the cup holder every morning. The easy solution: keep a pack of travel disinfecting wipes in the center console so you can give the cup holders a quick wipe down whenever they get gross.

Dashboard Air Vent

The fourth-germiest spot in the car, the dashboard air vent could be circulating germs around your car. To prevent this, turn off the AC and dust the vents using a foam paintbrush or use a can of compressed air. Run a disinfecting wipe over the vents, being careful not to get any liquid inside the vents, or mist lightly with an aerosol disinfecting spray, while the car windows are rolled down to allow air circulation.