By Melissa Locker
February 26, 2018
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When Coco Chanel famously said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off,” she was talking about accessories. However, the advice works for packing for airplanes, too. Do you really need two books, three magazines, and a knitting project for a two-hour flight to Miami? Probably not. In fact, aside from your wallet, ticket, and phone, there’s only thing that absolutely needs to be in your bag—antibacterial wipes.

The truth is that flying is a dirty business, with hundreds of people moving in and out of planes and spreading germs. While airplanes get a cursory clean-up between flights, deep cleans only happen occasionally. In a Wall Street Journal article, American Airlines reported that they deep clean their planes every 30 days or so, while United planes got a wash-down every 35 to 55 days. Deep cleaning was the only time that the ceiling, walls, and overhead bins were sanitized, the carpet thoroughly cleaned, cloth seats shampooed, and synthetic ones sanitized. Other than that monthly deep cleaning, seats and trays get wiped down about once a day. So unless you’re flying right after the cleaning crew gets done, you’re probably sitting in someone else’s germs. Luckily, that’s easy to fix with sanitary wipes like Clorox, Lysol, or Wet Wipes.

In that same Wall Street Journal article, Delta and United reported that they gave the seats and tray tables in first and business class a good scrub with sanitary wipes between flights. So if you’re riding coach (or just want to be extra safe), it pays to bring your own antibacterial wipes. Simply throw the wipes in your carry-on bag—or pick them up at the airport (most airport stands sell travel-sized packs). Once you’re on the plane, wipe down your seat, armrest, tray table, seat belt, and air vent as soon as you take your seat. Then sit back, relax, and read the four magazines you brought with you.