Anyone who’s taken to the open skies has passed through an airport. These hubs are full of people scrambling to make their flight or just waiting around until its time to take off. Unfortunately, where there are teems of people, there are also teems of germs and grime. You may think that airport bathrooms, with their sticky floors and unpleasant smells, are the worst of the worst when it comes to dirty spots in your airport. However, you’ll be surprised to learn that these locales aren’t even in the top five dirtiest places.
With all the foot traffic, it’s no wonder that airports and airplanes quickly become giant Petri dishes. So, before you plan your next air travel, be forewarned — some spots are just not cleaned often enough. Here are the top 10 germiest and dirtiest places in your airport.
1. Self-Check-In Screens
Self-check-in stations make getting ready for your flight a cinch. However, if you want to take advantage of this convenient feature, you may want to bring your hand sanitizer along. Self-check-in screens are, by far, the dirtiest spots at any given airport. Rarely cleaned, these stations see hundreds, if not thousands, of hands each day. Touch screens have about 1,500 times more bacteria, viruses and fungal cells per square inch than your common toilet.
2. Gate Bench Armrests
If you’re hoping to take a snooze before your flight, you may want to think again about using a gate bench armrest as your pillow. Not only do they teem with bacteria and other bugs, but researchers have also even found E. coli.
3. Water Fountain Buttons
As adults, we all know to keep our mouths off the water fountain spigot. Yet, it’s actually the button that dispenses water that’s the real danger. Because you can’t bring water bottles through security, airport water fountains seem like a necessary evil when you’re in need of a sip. Even though they provide free water to drink, they’re infrequently cleaned, especially the button.
4. TSA Bins
The security checkpoint area is one of the germiest spots in the airport. Between people huddled together in line and folks pulling their shoes on and off, this area is ripe with bacteria and viruses. TSA bins may seem like harmless containers where you put your stuff, but these rarely cleaned items pass from hand to hand all day long. Not only do they contain bacteria, but they often test positive for fecal matter as well.
5. Lavatory Flush Buttons
While airplanes tend to be cleaned more often than their airport counterparts, there are many danger zones where you can pick up an illness. The dirtiest surface in the skies is the lavatory flush button. While airplane bathrooms are usually given a quick clean between flights, this spot is often missed.
6. The Tray Table
Tray tables see a lot of use, and unfortunately not just for food. People use tray tables inappropriately every day, as a depository for their chewed gum, a diaper changing station or a pillow where flyers sleep and drool. When you realize how much fecal matter and bacteria tray tables contain, you may think twice about where you eat your snack.
7. Latches on Overhead Bins
The first thing you do when you get on your flight is rush to put your carryon luggage in the overhead bin. However, you may not be so eager when you learn that the latches on these bins receive little to no cleaning. As you can imagine, this makes them a hotbed for viruses, bacteria and other microbes.
8. Your Seat on the Plane
The turnaround between airplane flights is fast. As the crew gets your seat ready for you, it may not get as thorough a cleaning as you hope. Seats are rarely sanitized. In fact, they’re usually only shampooed about once a month at best. Viruses and even bacteria like MRSA or E. coli thrive in a variety of places all throughout your seating area, including your:
- Seatbelt buckles
- Overhead air vent
- Plastic window shade
- Rubber armrest
- Seat pocket and in-flight magazines
- Touchscreen entertainment system
As you prepare for takeoff, it wouldn’t hurt to use sanitizing wipes and give these germ-infested surfaces a once over.
9. Bathroom Stall Locks
Whether in the air or on the ground, the locks on the bathroom stalls and doors encounter a lot of people. Even when a bathroom is frequently cleaned, these little pieces of hardware are often overlooked.
Whether you’re buying some chewing gum at one of the airport shops or you’re getting your passport checked after an international flight, airport counters see a lot of visitors every day and are another high-risk area.
How Airlines and Airports Can Keep Airport Facilities Cleaner and Healthier
The FAA does not regulate how often or how thoroughly airlines and airports have to be cleaned. That means many of these places focus on removing trash and wiping down surfaces to give them a neat appearance — but you’re left to wonder what germs previous flyers have left behind.
Passengers have the right to enjoy flying the open skies without fearing for their and their family’s health. By hiring a professional cleaning company, it’s possible for even the dirtiest airports to be properly cleaned.
Airports located in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the DC area can turn to the trusted team at Palmetto Services for a superior level of clean. We provide thorough cleaning services for commercial buildings of all kinds. From airport bathroom cleaning to general use spaces, we pay attention to small details which are often overlooked.