The holidays are fast approaching, and many of us are about to fly for the first time in nearly two years. We could all use a refresher on air travel tips and tricks, like the right time to use the bathroom on an aeroplane, or how to eat on a plane without getting sick.
Still, some concerns over flying often reach be beyond the realm of rationality: Armrest debacles. Mask mandate defiers. Our fellow humans who think it’s ok to clip their toenails on a packed flight. On the list of air travel grievances, the cleanliness of plane bathrooms ranks remarkably low.
As we explained in our pre-pandemic germaphobe’s guide to aeroplane travel, plane restrooms are not exactly safe havens of cleanliness; however, the fact is that they’re par for the course in terms of inevitable germ exposure while travelling. Besides, it’s high time to stop worrying and learn to love germs again.
Now that we have facts and rationality out of the way, let’s be real: Public restrooms are a little bit terrifying for our freshly germaphobic brains. If you’re like me and not ready to let your germ guard down, here’s how to avoid getting disgusted when you pee on a plane (hopefully, in the toilet).
Pack yourself plenty of anti-bacterial wipes in order to give yourself some major peace of mind. Now, if you’re going to disinfect bathroom surfaces, you might as well keep disinfecting every stop of the way. Many other surfaces, like the self check-in display or your tray table, are going to be riddled with more germs than the plane toilet. I bring this up not to feed into the germaphobia, but as a reminder that the plane bathroom is not going to be especially germ-infested compared to the normal risks of air travel or public restrooms generally.
Wash your hands properly
If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, let’s hope we’ve learned how critical hand washing is to avoid getting sick. We’ve covered how to actually wash germs off your hands (remember when we all sang “Happy Birthday” multiple times all day?). There’s no special “hack” to wash your hands more effectively in an aeroplane restroom, so the best thing you can do is make sure you’re washing your hands properly in the first place.
Wear your mask
Face masks are must-have travel accessories. Like with proper hand-washing and disinfectant wipes, you can take solace in the fact that all the precautions you take to stay safe from COVID-19 have equipped you to stay safe in any ol’ aeroplane restroom. Here’s how to choose the right mask so that you aren’t turned away for your next flight.
Wear your shoes
At the risk of starting unwieldy discourse in the comments, I’m not afraid to say it: I believe you shouldn’t take your shoes off at all during a flight. Therefore, it pains me that I have to write this at all, but please, please keep your shoes on when you get up to use the plane bathroom. In addition to avoiding unsavoury liquids that might be on the bathroom floor, you’ll also be maintaining basic decency toward all your other passengers.
Bring tissues instead of toilet paper
Speaking of avoiding unsavoury liquids in public bathrooms, consider carrying your own tissues rather than risking the potentially damp toilet paper available to you. Brenda Orelus, a flight attendant and founder of Krew Konnect told this hack to HuffPost:
My biggest aeroplane bathroom hack is using the aeroplane tissues instead of the toilet paper…The tissue paper is typically located at eye level on commercial aircrafts, significantly increasing the likelihood that any liquid splashed on it is in fact just water.
If nothing else, having tissues on you at all times ensures you won’t be left stranded in a bathroom without any toilet paper at all.
Don’t bother flushing with your foot
Sadly, as we’ve previously explained, many popular germ avoidance “tricks” are a waste of time. Hovering over the toilet seat and grappling to flush with your foot aren’t going to make much difference. The good news is that bathroom germs aren’t a crazy health hazard; there are germs everywhere in your life, and the past year of COVID safety should position you well to steer clear of germs. There are plenty of reasons to perfect your squat, but hovering over a toilet isn’t one of them. Instead, keep focusing on germ-avoidant basics, like washing your hands and cutting back on touching your face.
Finally: Remain calm
When you go up in the air physically, try to stay grounded mentally. There’s a lot of fear-mongering when it comes to plane cleanliness, but there’s no need to be any more germaphobic in those spacious tin cans that we call bathrooms than there is at any other stage of air travel. Keep sticking to all the basic pandemic safety tips you’ve adhered to for nearly two years, and fret not.