Airport Health & Wellness

The Dirtiest Spot in the Airport Is Something You’re Probably Touching

The dirtiest spot in the airport isn’t found in the bathroom or near the trash—it’s out in the open, and it’s something you’re probably touching every time you fly. According to a new study done by, the screen on the self check-in kiosk is the dirtiest spot in the airport.

The Dirtiest Spot in the Airport

Over the holiday travel season, InsuranceQuotes conducted germ swabbing tests at three major U.S. airports, and found that the self check-in kiosk has an average of 253,857 CFU (colony forming units) per square inch. Compare that to the amount of CFUs found on an average toilet seat (172) and you’ll be a mobile check-in convert.

[st_related]9 Products to Help You Stay Healthy While Traveling[/st_related]


The other dirtiest spots in the airport are the airline gate bench armrest (21,630) and the water fountain button (19,181).

You’re not safe once you’re on the plane either—the study found that the toilet flush button was the dirtiest spot on the plane, followed by the tray table and seat belt buckle.

My advice? Pack some sanitizing wipes and quickly wipe down your seat area (tray table, seat belt buckle, entertainment screen, headrest, armrest, and buttons) as soon as you fly. Also bring a travel-sized container of hand sanitizer and use it after checking in, going through security, and using the airplane lavatory. Then, try to relax and forget about germs and focus on the fun you’ll have on your trip!

More from SmarterTravel:

[st_product products=”190257″]

After writing about the dirtiest spot in the airport, Caroline Morse Teel will always travel with hand sanitizer. Follow Caroline on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline for photos and advice from airports and other fun spots around the world.

By Caroline Morse Teel

Unfortunately for her bank account, Principal Editor Caroline Morse Teel is powerless to resist a good flight deal. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She's traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.

Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo,, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Earplugs. A good pair has saved my sleep and sanity many times!"

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Travel Motto: "Don't be boring."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle (when the first class private suite isn't available)."

E-mail her at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *