The Hidden Health Benefits of Auto Detailing

The Hidden Health Benefits of Auto Detailing

The Hidden Health Benefits of Auto Detailing - Photo of a young woman holding her nose and looking distinctly displeased while sitting in the driver seat of a car.

As the saying goes, “We live in our cars,” and a recent study by the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety has proven it true. They found that 87 percent of Americans drive and on average spend an hour and half a day in their vehicles. That’s a lot of time behind the wheel, and in that time most of us eat, drink, and give rides to pets, children and other carriers of germs and allergens. We clean and vacuum the surfaces inside our vehicles, but we seldom think about the air quality. Reports have shown that harmful allergens live and thrive inside the ventilation system and passenger cabin of almost every vehicle on the road. Considering the amount of time we spend in our vehicles, this can translate into a real health risk. In this article, we’ll explore the effects of these microscopic hitchhikers on air quality, and we’ll learn how air quality can be improved with professional interior auto detailing.

Sick Car Syndrome

Studies conducted by the University of Michigan concluded that automobiles are some of the dirtiest environments we encounter in everyday life. University of Arizona microbiologist Chuck Gerba identified pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella and MRSA in samples taken from cup holders, dashboards, seats and steering wheels. That’s because every time you turn on a fan, harmful mold spores and microorganisms are spread throughout the nooks and crannies of the passenger compartment. “Cars are the moldiest of all forms of transportation,” reports Dr. Gerba, “because people aren’t really cleaning or disinfecting these areas.” Everyday toxins, mold spores, road dust, germs, and other pollutants are drawn into the car through the fresh air vents. Once inside, fungus and bacteria can grow in the interior evaporator of the air conditioning system. Not only can odors emerge when the air conditioning is turned on, but so can germs and dust, causing passengers to experience cold-like symptoms, whether from allergies or actual germs. This occurrence is commonly known as “sick car syndrome,” and symptoms can include eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, sinus inflammation, fatigue, and asthma attacks. The same studies have found that the air inside our cars is often worse than the air we breathe at work or at home. With modern ventilation systems, which create air-tight passenger cabins, a vehicle can be a perfect incubator for germs. Researchers have discovered that climate control air blowers further increase passenger levels of germ exposure because the dark, damp environments of ventilation systems are perfect places for mold, bacteria, and viruses to thrive. The amount of mold and the length of exposure determine the potential severity of adverse health effects. Getting rid of all the germs is the only for sure way to prevent sick car syndrome.

Interior Detailing is the Answer

Regular deep cleanings and interior detailing can remove these contaminants. Interior detail specialists can reach spots inside vents and in the seams of the interior where dirt and microorganisms flourish. They also apply protectants that make it much harder for germs to get a foothold in the vehicle.

Coatings and Protectants

Coatings and protectants used by detailing shops are effective at protecting interior vehicle surfaces, not only from stains and spills but also microbes, for up to 90 days. If you apply your own protectants, be sure to use only water-based products, as silicone-based protectants leave oily residues that actually attract dust, which can harbor microbes and defeat the purpose of cleaning.

The Hidden Health Benefits of Auto Detailing - Graphic illustrating that germ and mold cell membranes are physically ruptured upon direct contact with protectant-treated surfaces.

Pet Hair Removal

It’s worth the money to have a specialist deep clean your vehicle’s interior if you have a pet that frequently rides with you. Pets carry germs on their paws, fur, mouths and other openings, so every time they go for a car ride, they leave microscopic invaders behind. UK researchers have revealed that cars used to transport children and pets have much higher bacteria counts than those that don’t. Ironically, children and pets have the greatest risk of potential infection when riding inside contaminated vehicles. Detailing shops provide specialized tools to remove pet hair in even the most difficult-to-reach spots.

Odor Elimination

Odors usually indicate the presence of germs or mold and should be dealt with swiftly to prevent microbes from finding their way onto—or into—your body. Professional detailers use industrial deodorizers to permeate fabrics and penetrate air passages to eliminate the sources of odors. For deeply ingrained smells, including strong pet odors, technicians employ ozone purification machines that entirely eradicate bacteria, mildew, mold, and offensive smells from the car’s upholstery and ventilation systems. When the job is done, the ozone harmlessly dissipates, leaving no toxic fumes in the vehicle.

Drive Safe and Stay Healthy

Air pollution inside vehicles is recognized as a major threat to human health by the World Health Organization. If you have noticed any offensive smells when you turn on the air conditioning, or you’ve experienced any of the symptoms of sick car syndrome, professional interior detailing will cure the problem. To keep your vehicle air quality safe all the time, we recommend detailing every four to six months. This keeps germs from establishing cultures, and the “new-car feeling” you get after a professional detailing job makes your drive time even more pleasant.

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