Your Car’s Cup Holders Are Gross—But This Quick Sock Trick Will Clean Them in 10 Seconds

published Jul 21, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

We all know how germ-ridden our homes are, thanks to germs lingering in cracks and crevices that often go uncleaned. But who knew the average car is just as dirty—if not even dirtier—than the messiest areas of your home? That’s right: According to a study conducted in 2011 by experts at Queen Mary University in London, an average of 700 kinds of bacteria could be lurking in car interiors, compared to the 60 types of bacteria most commonly present in the average public toilet.

While steering wheels and gear shifts are obvious offenders, given how commonly they come in contact with your hands, there’s another area you probably haven’t cleaned in your car: the cup holders.

Not only are they perfectly positioned to catch crumbs and other debris, your cup holders also probably house the same microbes you would find on the parts you touch with your hands, since germs can transfer from your fingers to a mug or cup. (And some viruses and bacteria can live on hard, non-porous surfaces for up to a week.)

To make cleaning this often-forgotten part of your car interior easier—and so much faster—we have a simple trick: Just dampen an old sock, stretch it over a glass, twist it in the cupholder area to pick up any dirt or messes that might be hanging out there, then throw the now-extra-dirty sock into the wash.

If you want to go the extra mile and kill some germs along the way, you could even spray the sock with some antibacterial, all-purpose cleaner first.

Once your vehicle’s cup holders are spotless, you can also use the sock-and-glass trick in your camping chair cup holder or a car or booster seat cup holder—just make sure you double check the diameter of the glass you’re going to use beforehand, since some cups (like mason jars) might be too wide.