Thinking about the dirt and germs in an airport may bring to mind a picture of the bathroom, but this isn’t completely accurate. Airports actually have much dirtier areas than the public restroom. The following information can help prevent the spread of germs and allow travelers to know which areas to avoid or be cautious around when spending time in the airport. Travelers can also be sure to wash their hands frequently and use hand sanitizer when available to help prevent the spread of disease.

Check-in Screens
When one considers the frequency of use of the check-in screens in the airport, it isn’t surprising to learn that they are actually the dirtiest surface in many airports. On average these screens can contain an extreme number of viable bacteria and fungal cells compared to the public toilets in the airport. The frequency of use mean that these screens are rarely disinfected.

Drinking Fountain Buttons
These buttons are touched by people of all ages throughout the day and are very rarely, if ever, cleaned. Since most airports don’t allow travelers to carry bottled water through security, it can be necessary to refill at the water fountain. Many fountain buttons contain the same amount of bacteria that are found in the average kitchen sink.

Armrests
The armrests on the chairs in the airport are covered in germs. People sitting in these areas waiting for flights likely touch their faces, cell phones, and other surfaces that are germ-ridden. This is especially troublesome when people are ill as these viruses and bacteria hang around on the armrests for the next person who occupies the seat.

Inside the Plane
The airplanes flying in and out of the airport may be slightly cleaner than the airport itself, but they are still full of potentially harmful germs. When flying on a plane, it can be beneficial to avoid the surfaces that are commonly used but never cleaned. This can include the latches on the overhead bins, the in-flight magazines, trays, and the pillows and blankets. The surfaces and handles in the plane bathroom can also be very filthy as hand-washing habits are lacking among some passengers.

Traveling through an airport can mean coming into contact with many pathogens. By taking precautions through hand-washing, sanitizing, and being cautious, travelers can help prevent the spread of disease before, during, and after air travel.