Do you know the dirtiest part of an airplane?

Do you know the dirtiest part of an airplane?




Given the situation that the world currently faces, we thought it might be a good idea to bring up some little facts that might be unknown to travellers, maybe even frequent ones. 

While on route to our destination, we sometimes do not think about the environment that is within an airplane. 

Think about it for a second, you are in a cramped metal box, alongside maybe 300 other passengers whom you do not know. 

Some flights that we take could be a short turnaround flight, where the crew simply does not have enough time to conduct a proper wipe down of the entire plane, which means that we could possibly be at risk. 

Do you want to know where in the plane is dirtiest? Read on, as the answer might surprise you!

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dirtiest part of the plane

Trouble spots in an aeroplane

Obviously there are many areas that could qualify for a spot here, but we are going to narrow it down to just 5. Don’t think you want to read a 5000 word article and getting a nightmare afterwards. 

After reading this article, you might want to consider preparing yourself better the next time you get on an airplane!

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plane seat belts

This is potentially the one spot that people tend to be complacent about, or simply don’t think of it as threatening to them. 

However, the humble seat belt is home to an abundance of germs, especially the fabric part of it. 

While the buckle has become a home for items to get trapped, think spilled food or biscuits, the fabric is a bigger culprit. 

As the surface area of the belt is much larger, and comes into contact with the seat and oftentimes the gap in between seats, it becomes a magnet for bacteria to call it home. 

The conditions are perfect for them to populate, and not surprisingly, mould and yeast has been found in them. 

By the way, have you seen seatbelts being cleaned by the crew before? Neither have we. 

Tray table

The tray table is likely one of the most used item for any passenger in an airplane, since it can be used for eating, placing your drink, resting your head, and changing diapers.

Yes, you read that right.

plane tray table

If you have flown enough, or unlucky enough, you would have witnessed shorthanded mummies put their toddler on the tray table and attempt to change out their soiled nappies. 

This means that bacteria such as the deadly E.Coli can easily be passed on to the surface of the tray table. 

Not only that, think about the last time you spilled some food or sugary drink onto the tray table, or seen someone do that. Does it get cleaned immediately? 

We suppose your answer is no, or not immediately. 

It is therefore no surprise that studies have found mould and hemolytic bacteria on it. 

Washroom handle

yawning cat
No bathroom pics, so here’s a cute cat yawning

Surprise, something from the washroom and it’s not in the top spot? 

We can already imagine the horror on your face right now. 

Most people would straight away point to the bathroom handle as the worst spot in the plane, since there’s where nasty business is conducted and we all know that friend or relative who never washes their hands after using the bathroom. 

Unsurprisingly, several types of bacteria are found on the bathroom handle, which can very easily make you sick. 

Notable mention: the toilet button is another hotspot, especially since most people would press the button before washing their hands. Imagine the dozens of fingers that pressed the button. Now imagine where that finger might have been a while before that.

We leave it to your imagination. 

Seat pocket

The unassuming seat pocket strikes! 

Although we were not entirely shocked that the seat pocket is a nasty spot, we didn’t expect it to take the number 2 spot. 

During a study, E.Coli was found in seat pockets as well as other coliforms. Not only that, mould and yeast were also discovered. 

Next time you are on a flight, you might want to open up the seat pocket and shine your torch light to have a peek. We have seen sweet wrappers, food crumbs and even used vomit bags before. 

How E.Coli got there is because of parents who used them as a convenient place to store the used diapers while putting on new ones for their babies. 

We suspect there’s more than one parent who forgot to take them out thereafter. 

Number 1

Drumroll please… The number 1 spot goes the the headrest. 

We know what you are thinking now. EEEWWWWWWWWW!!!!!

That’s right. During the same study, the headrest was found to contain the highest level of aerobic count, plus it contains nasty stuff like hemolytic bacteria and E.Coli too. 

But seriously, how the crap did E.Coli get onto a bloody headrest? There’s no way we can imagine that. 

Anyway, if you think about it, it does make some sense that the headrest is a place where bacteria and germs thrive. 

Unfortunately, there is no way for every single person to be clean of bacteria or germs while boarding a plane. Hence, disgusting stuff like yeast, hair lice, germs can all get stuck on the headrest. 

And you know that piece of flimsy paper they attach to the headrest? We are not too confident that it gets changed every single flight. Boo. 

What is the study conducted?

Before we go on, the study that was mentioned in this article is conducted on 18 flights but staff of CBC, a Canadian broadcasting company. You can read more about it here. Given the short amount of time we have from boarding to getting seated to taking off, we won’t be able to do a complete clean up of our seats.

So what can we do to stay safe?

There are some things that you can do quickly though, to ensure a cleaner and more hygienic environment for the next 2 to 10 hours. 

1. Always prepare a small carry on, for example a pouch or small handbag, and fill it with wet wipes. This means that you will have easy and quick access to them. Choose those that are anti-bacterial. Also pack along a small bottle of sanitising spray. We highly recommend this one from PlaneAire.

2. First thing to do before sitting down is to stand over your seat and give the entire thing a good spray from top to bottom including the armrests. Remember the fabric part of the seatbelt too.

3. If there is sufficient time and space, use the wet wipes to now wipe down the seat thoroughly. 

4. Once seated, open up the tray table and use a wet wipe to clean it well, not forgetting the bottom part of the tray too.

5. If you are occupying a window seat, be sure to use a wet wipe to sanitise the wall beside you as well as the window. This is another hotspot for germs. 

6. We do not recommend using the seat pocket, but if you have to use it, it is better to come prepared with a large plastic bag or something similar that you can fit into the pocket first before placing your belongings in there.

7. When using the bathroom, use a piece of tissue to press the flush button and to open the door. 


Sure, there are many other danger spots, just like the floor (we have seen many people walk around bare footed) or even the pillows and blankets (yes, they are not changed every single flight), which you need to be aware of. 

For these 5, just pay extra attention to them, will you?

Also, it is easy to think that what we suggest are bordering on the extremes, but to be honest, if you are facing a long flight ahead, or even just a couple of hours, don’t you want to be sitting in comfort?

Plus, you won’t want to catch a disease that can seriously derail your travel plans do you?

Let us know what you think in the comments down below, and do share what are some of the tricks you might have to keep clean and safe during a flight.

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Your mobile phone can do a pretty good job, but if you need an upgrade, we recommend the Sony A6000 (US) (International)

Travel insurance.
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Planned for you activities.
Need a guide to show you and your group around? Lots of operators here to choose from here. You know who they are and how they are reviewed. 

More resources to help you.
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Find out the Dirtiest part of an airplane

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  1. Such a detailed article on airplane cleanliness! I didn’t know there are so many dirty spots on the plane!
    Thank you!

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