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Spots to NEVER Touch on a Plane

Spots to NEVER Touch on a Plane

When you think about it, airplanes are pretty gross. Every corner of the plane doesn’t get scrubbed down and disinfected in between flights. It isn’t shocking that 20% of passengers will get a respiratory infection after one week of flying on a plane! We have put together a list of spots to never touch on a plane so you can stock up on wipes and hand sanitizer and scrub away!

Throughout the list are some recommendations on how to stay healthy and free of germs (as much as possible) while on the airplane. 

No one wants to start or end a vacation with a new cold or infection, so stay informed, clean the right areas, and stay on top of your health! Continue reading for more on spots to never touch on a plane!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

The dirtiest place on an airplane

Tray Tables

airplane tray table and seat back pocket with bag

Tray tables are among THE grossest spots to never touch on a plane. Flight attendants don’t have time to wipe down every single tray in between flights, so it is no wonder they get dirty. Think of all the hands (and feet) that have been all over the table. Gross.

Here’s a gross fact for you:

The airplane flush button has 265 bacteria colony-forming units (CFU), per square inch. The same study found the tray table to have 2,155 CFU per square inch. That’s 8X MORE! 

So, in other words, keep your hands off the tray table unless you have personally wiped it down. 

Stay Clean: Keep a stash of disinfecting wipes in your carry on, and wipe down the tray table before placing food on it or using it for other items. Additionally, you can get your own tray table cover, for ultimate germ protection! 

Seatbelt Buckle

airplane seatbelt on person's lap

It should be no surprise that seatbelt buckles are among the top spots to never touch on a plane. Passengers touch them at least 2-3 times per flight, and if tray tables aren’t being cleaned regularly, we know seat buckles sure aren’t! 

Seatbelt buckles on airplanes have roughly 230 CFU per square inch, just under that of the airplane flush button. Again, gross.

We all know you must wear your seatbelt on a plane, so you’re only way around them is to simply wipe them down. I like these packs of antibacterial wipes, as they are small enough to travel with! If you don’t have any wipes with you, try to refrain from touching it as much as possible!

When you are able to take your seat belt off, here are some simple exercises for long flights! 

Seat Back Pocket

airplane tray table and seat back pocket with bag

How many of you think airlines sanitize the seat pockets and all the magazines in them between each flight? Exactly. 

Think about how many people use the seat pocket to store their garbage, dirty tissues, rest their feet, or … puke bags?

One study found a particular bacteria strand of E. coli lingered on the cloth of the seat pocket for ONE WEEK. That’s just ONE exposure to the bacteria. Think about how many people touch it just in one day, then multiply that by 7 days… gross.

There is not much you can really do to clean the cloth material of the pocket, so your best bet is to just try your best not to touch it. However, you can get your own seatback pocket organizer, which is pretty awesome! Here is a list of carry on essentials!

Arm Rests

People Sitting on Plane Chairs

Now, passengers don’t typically rub their dirty hands all over the armrests, but they are still heavily used, making them one of the grossest spots to never touch on a plane

Bacteria can linger on the armrest for up to 4 DAYS. Think of it this way: a sick person uses the armrest on their flight, and 4 days later you can still pick up their germs. EW. 

Again, your best bet with this one is to simply wipe them down with antibacterial wipes. Refrain from touching the armrest with your hands, although elbows are ok. If you are feeling really fancy, you can get these armrest pads for ultimate comfort! Just be sure to wash them once you get home!

Head Rests

back of seat inside airplane with tv hanging from ceiling

Some studies suggest the headrest might be one of the grossest spots to never touch on a plane, many testing positive for E. coli bacteria. 

I didn’t even mean to take a picture of this dirty headrest, but look at all that grime! 

The good news is, you can simply place a small blanket over the headrest, to protect you from the germs. Neck pillows are also a great idea, as they prop your neck forward, so your head isn’t on the headrest as much! 

I like to wear a hoody on the plane so I can put the hood over my head to avoid touching the headrest. 

Tips to staying healthy on the airplane

Consider getting this all in one airplane disinfecting kit! Instead of buying all the pieces separately, this bundle is the perfect way to keep germs away when flying! 

This airplane travel mist is TSA approved and can be sprayed directly on surfaces to disinfect, or in the air! This is a great way to quickly get rid of some germs, no mater where you are. Do a quick spray of your airplane seat to help kill some of those nasty germs. This is a great product to pack in your carry on!

You can even cover your entire airplane seat with this airplane seat cover!

This can be a great idea for traveling with kids, as we all know they can be a little messy sometimes! Or, if you are worried about your toddler having an accident in the seat, you can ease your worries. This doesn’t have to be used just on the airplane either- it can fit over other seats as well! Here are some other tips for traveling with kids! 

If the thought of the tray table still grosses you out, even after wiping it down, simply get your own tray table! This tray table snaps onto the airplane table, and now you don’t have to worry about all the germs!

This is also a great product for kids, so they have their own space to color, eat, or play. You won’t have to worry about your child drawing on the tray table or making a huge mess in the airplane. You can simply snap it off, wipe it down, and pack away in your carry on!

We didn’t discuss the airplane bathroom because, well, you all just know its dirty. But, you can buy your own disposable travel toilet seat covers, which are great for the plane, or in case you ever find yourself in a not so clean bathroom situation! You could also use these in any bathroom, in case you find yourself in a gross porta-potty situation. 

Leave a comment below!

Anyone else feel like they need a shower after that one? Yikes. I’m sure you’ll never look at a plane the same way again, I know I won’t! Be prepared with the right products, and you should be able to dodge some sicknesses! 

We hope you enjoyed reading spots to never touch on a plane. I’d love to hear your reactions- leave a comment below!

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Yolanda G

Friday 25th of August 2023

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