Uber, Lyft ride-hailing vehicles have more germs than taxis and toilet seats, study says

A new study revealed that Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing vehicles typically host more germs than rental cars, taxis -- and toilet seats.

A study by Netquote, an insurance company, found that ride-hailing vehicles had three times as many germs as rental cars and nearly 220 times as many germs as taxis.

The study said the researchers swabbed surfaces to find the amount of colony-forming units (CFU) per square inch on each surface.

Ride-hailing vehicles had 6,055,963 CFU, rental cars had 2,000,510 CFU, while taxis had 27,593 CFU, all per square inch.

For comparison, a toothbrush holder typically has 2,140,952.90 CFU, a coffee reservoir has 32,635.48 CFU, while a standard toilet seat had the least amount of germs, with 171.61 CFU, all per square inch.

The study measured the amount of germs found in seat belts, door handles and window buttons for both ride-hailing vehicles and taxis.

For vehicles used in ride-hailing services, the most germs were found on window buttons, which hosted 5,054,000 CFU. Seat belts came in next, with 1,000,153 CFU found. The door handles had the least germs, with 1,810 CFU found.

Taxis, overall, played host to fewer germs. The study found 26,000 CFU on seat belts, 1,570 CFU on door handles and only 23 CFU on window buttons.

When the study looked at rental car hygiene, it found that the shifter had the most germs, with 1,00,093 CFU. The steering wheel had almost just as many germs, with 1,000,013 CFU. The seat belt had the least amount of germs, at 403 CFU.

The study called for riders to be more aware of their hygiene when renting a car and taking a ride-hailing service or taxi. Researchers suggested people wipe key surfaces, such as the steering wheel and shifter, when driving a rental car. They also advised those riding in a taxi or ride-hailing vehicle to avoid touching one's face and putting hands in pockets, which could promote the spread of bacteria.

"Once you leave the cab or rideshare, wash your hands as soon as possible - and avoid touching your face until you do," the study said. "Follow these steps, and you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride (or drive) - without worrying too much about the germs riding beside you."