Airplanes are gross. Like any form of public transportation, they’re a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria. So when you board a flight to see family this holiday season, it’s mission-critical to know where germs tend to colonize so you can disinfect properly.
So what’s the most disgusting spot on an airplane? With the holiday travel season upon us, we thought it’d be a good time to share the findings of travel site Travelmath.com, who sent biologists to find out. They took 26 samples at five U.S. airports from flights by two major (unspecified) carriers. And their conclusion may surprise you. While airplane bathrooms are indeed foul, it’s tray tables that are the germiest. Those tested had an average of 2,155 colony-forming units per square inch. (Colony-forming units, or CFUs, are a measure of viable bacterial or fungal cells in a certain area). Barf.
So what is there to do? Disinfect the heck out of it. That should do the trick, but even so, if a stray peanut falls onto the tray surface, that’s one to toss. To be even more vigilant, you might even think about laying a cloth napkin over the table when you’re using it. “A clear takeaway from this is to eliminate any direct contact your food has with the tray table,” says Travelmath of the findings.
According to the study, here are the top 6 germiest spots in airplanes and airports.
View the Grossest Places
Tray tables. This is the germiest spot on an airplane. Tables tested had an average of 2,155 colony-forming units per square inch.
Airport drinking fountain buttons. Maybe just don’t? Drinking fountain buttons had 1,240 CFU per sq. in. Opt for water bottles.
Overhead air vents. While not nearly as bad as tray tables or drinking fountains, these things had an average 284 CFU per square inch. Disinfect them before you use them.
Lavatory flush buttons. Large planes have roughly one lavatory for every 50 passengers. So go armed with disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. And don’t touch anything directly. Use your disinfectant wipe to flush (flush buttons have 265 CFU per square inch) and on the toilet seat and faucet. And please please please close the toilet seat before flushing because…sick.
Seatbelt buckle. Before you “please fasten your seatbelt for takeoff,” disinfect it. They have 230 CFU per square inch.
Bathroom stall locks. The stall locks in airport bathrooms have 70 CFUs per square inch. Again, don’t touch them directly and wash your hands vigorously after you use the facilities.
Notice a trend here? Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect. The good news is that though the Travelmath study didn’t specify the types of bacteria they found, they reported that all the samples were negative for the presence of fecal coliforms such as E. coli, which can be infectious. But E. coli isn’t the only type of bacteria that can make you sick. So while there’s no need to cancel that flight to see the family, you should always pay attention to what you’re touching when you travel.
Here’s a list of some of our favorite sanitizing products:
- Everyone Hand Sanitizer Spray
- Cleanwell All Natural Hand Sanitizing Pocket Pack Wipes
- Yes to Baby Carrots Wipes
- Clean Antibacterial Hand Cream
- Thymes Essentials Instant Hand Cleanser
And remember, if you happen to get a cold from traveling (it happen to the best of us), you can make a last-minute doctor’s appointment with a reputable healthcare provider on Solv.