How Long Do Germs Live On Airplane Seats?


It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the material that the airlines use for seating are very good for germs to hide and live for days.

Health News Germs Airplane Seats

There was a research study published earlier this week that found that E. coli survived for 4 days and MRSA for 7 days.

You can read more about this on the Washington Post’s website here and on UPI here.

Here are some tidbits from the Washington Post piece:

“The take-home message is be careful about your hand hygiene and don’t travel while contagious or immune compromised,” said Kiril Vaglenov, a post-doctoral fellow in materials science at Auburn, who led the research.MRSA, as you doubtlessly know by now, is the scourge of locker rooms, hospitals, military barracks and other settings where large numbers of people congregate. But it’s also carried in the nostrils of about 1 percent of the U.S. population. About 30 percent of people carry the non-methicillin resistant strain of the same bacteria.

As you might expect, transmission of the pathogens was easier from non-porous surfaces such as tray tables and window shades, even though they lasted longer on porous surfaces such as seat back pockets and arm rests. The good news here is that after just 24 hours, the transmission rate of MRSA in sweat and saliva was very low, just 1.1 percent and 0.4 percent respectively, and it dropped to zero after 48 hours. From tray tables and window shades, however, transmission was as high as 44.4 percent for MRSA in sweat.

Transmission of E. Coli in sweat on tray tables remained very high even after 72 hours, but was at zero within the same time period for armrests and toilet handles.


As you may know by now, I do travel a lot. I am not one of those that swipes to clean airplane seats and trays or tables. My personal motto has been that the faster I get all the local bacteria the better for me. Of course this doesn’t include getting MRSA or E. coli.

Considering how sloppily the US airlines clean their planes, you can be sure that they are filled with all the possible germs and bacteria. These findings are especially significant considering that many planes are now equipped with touchscreen AVOD. Who knows how good they really clean these?

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