Carseats have twice as many germs as a toilet

Most parents know their child's carseat is not always squeaky clean, but they might not realise just how dirty it really is.
Most parents know their child's carseat is not always squeaky clean, but they might not realise just how dirty it really is. Photo: Getty Images

If you found your baby or toddler playing in the toilet, chances are you would probably wash their hands pretty quickly. But it turns out a child's carseat is actually home to more germs than the average household loo.

This fact might not come as a surprise to any parent who has lifted their child's seat out of the car only to discover an array of stale snacks, old Happy Meal toys, broken matchbox cars and discarded hairbands living underneath - but now there is a study to prove it.

Birmingham University researchers discovered children's carseats actually have twice the amount of potentially dangerous germs found on a household toilet. 

After swabbing 20 homes and cars and comparing the results they found children's carseats contained an average of 100 bacteria and fungi in each square centimetre. This compared to 50 germs per square centimetre on a toilet. 

Bugs found on the childseats included bacteria that can lead to illnesses, such as E. coli and salmonella.

But before you blame the kids for all the mess, researchers also found plenty of germs throughout the rest of the car. The car footwell was the dirtiest area with several thousand bacteria in every square centimetre of space - not to mention the junk and mess, such as take-away food boxes, used tissues, maps and broken torches.

According to an earlier study conducted in the US, cars have 17,000 times more bacteria than a home.

Shockingly, a car's cup holder was found to have 228 per cent more bacteria than the average toilet seat. 

The study also found married people have more bacteria in their cars than single people, while women have more bacteria in their cars than males. 

Not surprisingly, cars which transport children on a regular basis were found to have more bacteria than cars which did not transport children. 

Dr Anne-Marie Krachler, from the Institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham, said much of the bacteria had the potential to be harmful.

"These germs can easily spread in cars that are not cleaned often, especially if you eat in the vehicle or leave litter and food," she told UK's Daily Mail.

"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."

The UK researchers found 60 per cent of people were unaware of the health risks associated with having a dirty car.