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Cars are very filthy and that’s not only because of the environmental pollution they cause, according to a new study.

Scientists found that vehicles are more unhygienic than toilet seats and rife with various bacteria, including E. coli, Deutsche Welle reported.

For the study, a research team swabbed the insides of five used cars and compared them to samples taken from two toilet seats. They found that the filthiest part of the car was the trunk, while the steering wheel was the cleanest.

Researchers said the trunk had large traces of E. coli, a bacterium that causes food poisoning. They explained that the microbe’s prevalence stems from people transporting pets or muddy shoes in the trunks of their cars – and rarely cleaning them.

“We tend to care a little bit less about the cleanliness in the (trunk) of our cars because it’s the main place we put things to transport them from A to B,” said lead author Jonathan Cox.

As for the steering wheel, Cox noted that the increased use of hand sanitizer during the coronavirus pandemic has prevented microorganisms from occupying the vehicle’s most used part.

The team said they used toilets as a comparison because other studies did so and therefore provided good comparative value: Previous findings have found that phones also host more microorganisms than toilet seats.

The study serves as a reminder that just because a surface appears clean, it isn’t necessarily so.

“Most of us bleach our toilets, probably on a daily basis, but when do we ever bleach our cars? We don’t,” Cox added.

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