The Average Steering Wheel Is 4 Times Filthier Than a Public Toilet Seat: Study

That pump handle at the gas station, meanwhile, is almost 12,000 times dirtier than the typical porcelain throne.

byChris Tsui|
Culture photo


Ready for another study that highlights how filthy and horrible we all are? According to a recent test conducted by, the insides of our cars are absolutely disgusting. 

The outlet surveyed 1,000 American motorists about how often they wash and sanitize their car's interiors. Surprise, surprise—it doesn't happen very often. A good 32 percent of respondents said they only clean the inside of their vehicles once a year while 12 percent admitted to never cleaning their interiors.

If you happen to be part of the sizable group of drivers who don't scrub their dashboards as much as they probably should, you may want to grab some disinfectant wipes and get to work. The study reveals some alarming facts about just how many germs get built up on your car interior's touch points. At 629 bacteria per square centimeter, also known as colony-forming units or CFU, the average steering wheel is over six times dirtier than your phone screen, plays host to double the filth found on public elevator buttons, and most revoltingly, is four times grimier than a public toilet seat.

Despite this, 20 percent of those surveyed reported eating in their car on a weekly basis. Animals, the lot of ya.

via Getty Images

Even if you happen to keep a container of Lysol in your cup holders and disinfect your steering wheel, gear shifter, and volumes knobs daily, there's an unavoidable aspect of driving that will always be downright filthy: the pump handle at the gas station. Like you may have suspected, that sucker might as well be the door handle of a strip club men's room. With a CFU figure in the seven digits, the average gas pump handle is precisely 6,428 times dirtier than elevator buttons and a whopping 11,835 times dirtier than that toilet seat. Nasty.

Might want to bring a pair of disposable latex gloves to the gas station from here on out.

The rest of the study goes into more detail about how much bacteria lives on different surfaces of the inside of your car as well as the different types of germs found and what diseases they cause. It's definitely worth reading and sharing to freak out your germophobe friends.