Tray tables have been found to be the dirtiest place on planes
Tray tables have been found to be the dirtiest place on planes

The least hygienic place to touch on a plane has been revealed by scientists - and it's not the toilet

Plane toilets may be cleaner than you think – but be careful of where you eat

Alice Harrold
Tuesday 29 November 2016 10:29

The toilet is not the dirtiest place on an aeroplane, a new study published by Travelmath has revealed.

Microbiologists took bacterial samples from five airports and four flights run by two major airlines, and used the median of the results from each location to calculate the dirtiest places to touch.

Flush buttons on plane toilets were found to have on average 265 CFU (colony-forming units) per square inch.

Surprisingly however, tray tables were found to carry over eight times as much bacteria as the toilet flush buttons with 2,155 CFU/sq. inch.

Toilet facilities were some of the cleaner areas on the planes due to being regularly cleaned between flights.

Tray tables are eight times dirtier than toilet flushes on planes

Seatbelts and air vents were among the top places for bacteria to be on board

Seatbelt buckles and overhead air vents were found to have around as much bacteria on them as the toilet flushes.

The study advised that travellers bring hand sanitiser with them on planes and eliminate any direct contact between their food and the tray tables.

Short boarding times means that most airlines only clean tray tables at the end of the day. The findings demonstrate the need for trays to be cleaned between flights.

"What is needed is a procedure for increased efficiency of boarding and deplaning that gives the cabin crew more time to do a thorough cleaning between flights", the study said.

Drinking fountain buttons are the dirtiest things in airports

In airports, the least sanitary place by far to touch is drinking fountain buttons with 1,240 CFU/sq. inch, the research found.

Tests done by the National Science Foundation in the US show that the average home toilet seat has just 172 CFU/sq. inch.

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