Traveling is a dirty business. Airplanes can be some of the most germ-filled places, and that’s not even taking into account the airplane bathroom. In fact, studies have shown that the tray table is actually one of the grossest places in the plane, even worse than the flush button in the bathroom. With all this in mind, you might be wondering if you can take disinfectant wipes on a plane, or even other kinds of wipes such as makeup wipes, baby wipes, or any other type of wet wipe.
Note: This post is written referencing TSA rules for travel from airports in the USA. Some countries may have different rules, so if you’re flying from an airport in another country, please look up the rules for the authority in that country.
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Wipes on planes: Are they considered liquid?
The biggest concern with bringing wipes on a plane is that they are inherently wet. They need to be in order to do their job!
But what does this mean for the TSA liquids rule when you want to take wipes in your carry on bag? Fortunately you’re in luck. TSA does not consider wet wipes to be liquids. That means they do not have to be in your liquids bag, and there’s no limit on how many you can bring.
This goes for any kind of wipe you want to take on the plane. Makeup removal wipes, face wipes, baby wipes, standard wet wipes, antibacterial wipes, disinfectant wipes, they’re all permitted.
Whether you’re taking about the kind that clean a surface or the kind you use on your bum, wipes are allowed on planes in your carry on bag or personal item.
So don’t fear. Calm your worries about airplane germs by bringing some wipes and cleaning your seat area. I’ll tell you how later in the post.
Can you take hand sanitizer on a plane?
Since we’re all a little freaked out now about how dirty airplanes are, your next question might be, can you take hand sanitizer on a plane?
TSA is currently allowing passengers to bring one bottle of hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces (about 354 ml) in carry on baggage. You are permitted to have one bottle per passenger. It does not need to go in your liquids bag, but you will need to take it out for screening.
While I don’t think you should use antibacterial hand sanitizer too much – because it also kills off the helpful good bacteria – it certainly makes sense in certain situations. And nasty airplanes might just be one of those situations.
Hand sanitizer is allowed on a plane in your carry on bag as long as it complies with the liquids rules. This means the container must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or smaller, and it must fit inside your one quart (one liter) clear zip top liquids bag. Each passenger is permitted one liquids bag.
Luckily hand sanitizers often come in small bottles, so it shouldn’t be too hard to fit one into your liquids bag.
>>Read: Can you bring makeup on a plane?
What are some of the dirtiest places on the plane?
I’m not sure I ever want to step foot on an airplane again after researching this, but it’s important to know for those of us who do intend to keep flying. I’m not gonna lie, those hazmat suits are looking more and more reasonable.
As I mentioned earlier, the seat back tray table is one of the dirtiest places on the airplane. Which is so disturbing considering you eat off of it. But wait, there’s more.
Those seat back pockets filled with magazines and safety instructions? Where you store your water bottle or Kindle? You guessed it, they’re incredibly dirty too. People put all kinds of gross things in there, from dirty tissues and nail clippings (seriously) to dirty diapers. If you’re one of those people, please stop.
I think it goes without saying that the toilet is very dirty. But it’s not just the toilet. It’s pretty much the whole bathroom, including the flush button, the lock, the sink, the counters…you get the point.
Your seat belt is another dirty spot you might not think about. But everyone has to touch it, sometimes multiple times throughout the flight, and it’s not something that often gets cleaned.
Other dirty areas include the headrest, the top of the seat, the walls near the window seats, the armrests, the floor, the vent and light knobs and buttons, and the TV screens on the back of the seat. So pretty much everything.
Flights are scheduled tightly, and planes operating short haul flights might have several in one day. Unfortunately that doesn’t leave much time for cleaning, and often the only thing that gets any attention is the bathroom. Which is why it’s usually cleaner than your tray table.
>>Read: Can you bring food on a plane?
How to disinfect your airplane seat
First, nothing is fool proof. You can’t really disinfect fabric so easily, so there aren’t a lot of options to protect you from any bacteria lurking in the cushions. But there’s still a lot you can do to make your flight experience a little less germ-y.
Pack some disinfectant wipes in your carry on bag, and put them somewhere you can easily access. That way you can get started as soon as you get to your seat and stow your luggage.
Remember all those dirty places I mentioned earlier? You’re going to want to thoroughly wipe down as many of those as possible. Stick to the hard surfaces though. Wipe down your tray table, the seat belt buckles, the armrests, the air vent knobs, the light buttons, the TV, and even the wall near your head if you have a window seat.
Read the instructions on your wipes ahead of time so you know how they work. It takes time for the antibacterial magic to do its thing, so you need to wipe enough that the surfaces are wet, and they actually need to stay wet for the time stated on the package. Usually this is anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes, so be patient.
Also make sure your hand sanitizer is easy to reach throughout the flight. You might want to use it after getting back from the bathroom since you’ll probably encounter lots of germs on the lock and door handle after washing your hands. But PLEASE still wash your hands!
Bringing disinfectant wipes on other modes of transportation
Guess what? Airplanes aren’t the only dirty, germ-filled forms of transportation. If you’re traveling by bus or train, you’re probably sitting in a filthy seat there too.
It’s a good idea to travel with disinfectant wipes on trains and buses so you can clean up your space there too. Just like on airplanes, the seat back tray tables are rather dirty. Same goes with the armrests, the wall next to the window seat, vents, and just about any other hard surface where you’re sitting.
Same goes for the upholstery though – those seats are carrying germs, but they’re not so easy to get rid of since wipes don’t work so well on fabric.
Which kind of wipes to buy
When shopping for wipes to bring on the plane, make sure you’re getting the right kind for your needs. Makeup wipes will be different from wet wipes, which are also different from disinfectant wipes.
Another thing to consider is the scent. Often manufacturers add scents, like lemon or lavender, to wipes to cover the disinfectant smell, but many people are allergic to these perfume-type ingredients. Your seating area on an airplane is small, and if your neighbor has an allergy, you will be causing them a huge problem and could even make it hard for them to breathe. Be considerate and buy unscented wipes.
I hope this answers all your questions about taking disinfectant wipes on a plane, or bringing any type of wipes on a plane for that matter. And don’t forget to disinfect as much of your seat area as possible the next time you get on a plane!
You might also enjoy:
- What NOT to Pack in Your Carry-On Bag
- Carry On Toiletries: Non-Liquid Options for Carry-On Travel
- Can you take aerosols on a plane?
- Carry On Luggage Size Chart: 170+ Airlines