The Dirtiest Place In Every Airport Is Nowhere Near The Bathroom

After the last few years, it's mostly common knowledge that airports are notorious germ hubs. With so many people transiting a single airport in a day, it's no wonder why! All the hands touching high-traffic surfaces — plus the coughing, sneezing, talking, etc. — can result in multiple areas that are major vectors for germs and viruses. Really makes you want to book a flight, right? Well, for those who love to travel or need to travel, there's one place you probably aren't expecting to be the dirtiest place in every airport.

House Beautiful reports that the dirtiest place in the airport is not the bathroom. Is that surprising to you? If it is, you aren't alone! While we might assume bathrooms, boarding gate seats, and security lines have the most germs because they are high-traffic areas, you have to consider the places people are touching the most. And that, friends, would be the self check-in kiosks.

Why self check-in kiosks are the dirtiest place in an airport

Yep, that's right. The airport time-saver you love so dearly and helps you avoid unnecessary social interaction before your 6 a.m. flight could be the cause of your post-travel sickness. InsuranceQuotes conducted 18 tests in three U.S. airports and airlines that see thousands and thousands of travelers each day. They tested multiple surfaces that one might expect to find germs including the lavatory flush buttons, tray tables, seatbelts, gate bench armrests, water fountain buttons, and the self check-in kiosks.

The results? The study found that self check-in kiosks had almost three times the amount of CFUs (colony-forming units) than the lavatory buttons on airplanes. So, even though we love the convenience of the check-in kiosks, is it worth it? Well, if saving time is important to you, it might be. You can easily avoid picking up any bad germs (or leaving them behind) by sanitizing your hands before and after using the kiosks. Regardless if you travel frequently or not, it's a good habit to get into.

How to avoid getting sick when you travel

If you have the time to spare, yes, you can avoid the self check-in kiosks. But there are plenty of ways to prevent picking up germs and preventing illness when you travel. The CDC has some pretty straightforward advice for staying healthy when you travel: wash your hands frequently, don't touch your face, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoid traveling if you are sick. These are easy things pretty much anyone can do if they are planning to travel.

If you have an important event you need to attend at your destination or when you return home, you may want to take a few extra steps to protect your health. GloboTreks writes that you should consider carrying hand sanitizer with you, wearing a face mask, and (if traveling in a less-developed country) drinking only bottled water and cooked food. Drinking lots of water is also generally a good idea and getting vaccinated prevents some of the worst diseases you might pick up while traveling.