By Andrea Romano
Updated March 04, 2020

Being highly aware of germs and trying to stay healthy on flights has always been an issue for travelers. Travelers are not only keeping some Purell in their carry-ons but also disinfecting some of the dirtiest places on their flight.

There is one thing that most travelers might ignore, though: your seat-back pocket.

According to Insider, Reddit user and long-haul flight attendant, HausOfDarling, posted on an r/AskReddit thread about some of the filthiest places you can find on an airplane. “I ALWAYS recommend you never, ever, ever, EVER use or put anything in the seat pocket. They are cleared of rubbish but are never 'cleaned',” the user wrote.

They went on to say that there are a number of gross things cleaning crews have found while clearing the plane of trash, including “dirty tissues, sick bags, knickers, socks, . . . gum, half sucked sweets, apple cores.”

Just think about it for a minute: A passenger is coughing into a wad of tissues and instead of immediately disposing of them, they tuck them away in the seat-back pocket. It’s common, planes are small and getting up and down is tedious. Most of us would do it.

Getty Images/Mint Images RF

Now, imagine you’re on the next flight and you’re sitting in that same seat. You put in your headphones and slip your phone into the pocket for safe-keeping. Or, maybe you put your tablet or laptop in there. Now, the next time you handle your device, you potentially have germs on your hands — or possibly your face, mouth, and eyes. It’s enough to make one shudder.

Of course, seat-back pockets aren’t the only germ-filled places in a plane, everywhere from the lavatories to your tray tables are home to a number of bacteria and viruses. According to Insider, swab tests done by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on seat headrests came back with Staphylococcus, E. coli, and Hemolytic bacteria. Seat-back pockets tested positive for aerobic bacteria, mold, coliforms, and E.coli.

The best way to combat germs is to use hand sanitizer, according to one study. Using disinfecting wipes on all surfaces, including the seat, tables, seatbelt, basically everything, is also an option.

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