When it comes to flying, one of the drawbacks is having to deal with strangers in your personal space and sharing a toilet amongst other things. Dealing with germs in such a confined space is practically unavoidable, but if you are aware of the dirtiest places found on planes you might just be able to walk off germ-free...well almost. :)
According to the World Health Organization, some people are generally more susceptible to catching something on an airplane due to the cabin air humidity falling below 20% whilst a home's humidity is generally around 30% or higher. As a general rule, low humidity may cause skin dryness, some discomfort in the eyes, nose and mouth, but this is generally nothing serious, but mucus is your body's first line of defense against germs, which might help to fuel cross infection aboard.
Whilst it makes sense that being stuck on a plane with a bunch of strangers from all over the world will lead to the spread of germs, we have identified some of the hot spots when it comes to germs on planes.
A study done by Auburn University has found that certain bacteria can survive for up to a week on commercial airline cabins.
In the study it was found that MRSA can survive up to 168 hours on material surfaces such as the back pockets of seats, whilst E.Coli O157:H7 lived for 96 hours on the material from the arm rest.
Everyone loves the aisle seat, it enables a sense of freedom to be able to get up and go without trying to squeeze past someone else, but as with all things in life, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
The top of aisle seats are quite vulnerable to harboring all kinds of germs as it is the most common area for people to touch when finding their seat after just boarding the plane or specifically after a bathroom run...so it might be best to avoid touching these areas when moving around.
Travelmath found that the seatbelt buckle of airplane seats contained up to 230 CFU/sq.in.
In addition a few years back there was a story of an airplane that had to make an emergency landing due to an outbreak of norovirus onboard.
Table Trays and the Lavatory
According to a study done by Travelmath, which comprised of five airports, a tray table may harbor up to 2155 CFU/sq.in. In addition, the tray tables had 2155 colony forming units of bacteria per square inch - compared to the 127 CFU/sq.in. The lavatory flush button contained up to 265 CFU/sq.in. and the bathroom stall locks contained up to 70 CFU/sq.in. which is relatively standard for a toilet seat at home according to the National Science Foundation.
So what can we do to protect ourselves against the invisible enemy: germs on a plane?
Be sure to sanitize your hands regularly with a proper disinfectant. Sprinkle Spray has a hand sanitizer spray that is effective against 99.9% of harmful germs.
In addition, be sure to always open the bathroom stall lock with either a tissue or paper towel so as to avoid touching that area.
Sanitize your hands before you eat, avoid touching bathroom surfaces unnecessarily, avoid touching your eyes and mouth after touching a surface with your hands.
Unless blankets and pillows are sealed do not use it and wear shoes in the cabin to avoid germs in the carpet.