Flying for the holidays? Has your airplane touched down safely? Great. But you won’t be 100% safe until you take a shower.
Researchers at Auburn University have found basically anything you touch as an airline passenger is teeming with viruses and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Using parts from a decommissioned Delta plane, Kiril Vaglenov, a post-doctoral fellow in materials science, had his team swab everything from bathroom handles to window shades, tray tables and that seat-back pocket your flight attendants have told you contains important safety information.
According to the scientists, the pockets also contain tons of stuff that will make you really sick — way worse off than that guy in seat 13A who keeps sneezing.
What the scientists found was the dreaded, antibiotic resistant MRSA as well as the stomach bug E. coli, both of which are potentially deadly.
The scientists discovered MRSA lasted 168 hours on a cloth seat back pocket and E.coli hung around for 96 hours on an armrest. That means if some rubs off on you, it’s hitching a ride for a long time, unless you wash it off.
Another study from InsuranceQuotes.com found airport kiosks have more than 1,475 times the amount of bacteria than your house’s toilet seat.
Oh, and the airplane seat headrest is also super-gross. Microbiologist Jason Tetro, author of The Germ Files, tells the website Well & Good “It’s the headrest…where you’ll not only find bacteria, but also yeasts and molds. If it’s a short-haul, you may not have to worry about it…But as the flights get longer, the microbes on your skin can grow and that can get a bit smelly.”
So when you get your hotel, put those complimentary shower soaps to good use.