How to Disinfect Your Airplane Seat

April 4, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

I may be a bit of a germaphobe, but I get a little worried when I think I’m putting my hands where dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people have put their hands before me. Were they sick? Were their hands clean? Did they just sneeze into their hands before they touched the thing I’m about to touch?

One of the worst places to experience this phobia is during air travel. Whether you’re touching the screen on the check-in kiosk, the armrests of the seats at the gate, or even the handles of the airport escalator, you’re going to risk getting sick by touching some of these surfaces.

(Surprisingly, one of the cleanest surfaces in the airport? The toilet.)

It’s just as bad on airplanes too. According to an article in Smart Travel, the average tray table is exponentially germier than a home toilet seat. Other spots for germs include seat buckles, seatback pockets and aisle seats as people touch them on their way back to their seats.

But don’t worry, you can protect yourself from those germs and have a germ-free — well, a germs-fewer — trip.

Airplane seats and the tray tables

First, you’ll need disinfecting wipes, of course, and it doesn’t matter whether you choose from brand names, generics, or even medical grade. Try to get the hand disinfectant kinds, and not the bathroom/kitchen cleaning products if you want to wipe off your hands as well. Get them in travel packs, or pack a few in a small resealable bag.

Next, board the plane with wipes in hand, and be sure to use them correctly. Start by wiping hard, nonporous surfaces, leaving them wet for as long as directed on the package. Don’t rush the wait time by wiping them down. Germs are being destroyed while you wait, so be patient.

Upholstered surfaces can’t be disinfected with wipes for two reasons: 1) It doesn’t work, and 2) it will leave the fabric wet. Who wants to deal with those issues on top of everything else? A disposable airplane seat cover will work, however. There are washable ones, too. And there are smaller disposable covers designed for the tray table and headrest if you’d rather go that route.

Make sure you take a small bottle of hand sanitizer (small enough to get through the TSA checkpoint). Use it to sanitize your hands when you leave the plane and when you leave the airport. Also, make sure you sanitize your hands before you eat any food.

Finally, be sure to avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth while you’re traveling — you can get sick by transmitting germs from your hands to a mucosal (moist) surface on your body, like rubbing your eyes, scratching inside your nose, or putting food in your mouth.

Finally, seatback pockets have the highest concentration of germs and should be avoided at all costs. Don’t stick your phone, book, or food items in there. Instead, consider purchasing a seat back liner or flight bag that hangs from the seatback tray toggle.

Are you worried about germs when you travel? Do you wipe down surfaces or use hand sanitizer, or do you just hope for the best? Share your tips on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: (Creative Commons 0/Public Domain)

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