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The Most Bacteria-Infested Places on an Airplane

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Pop quiz: What’s the dirtiest place on an airplane? Your go-to answer is probably the same one you'd think of as the dirtiest place in most public spaces—the bathroom. But travel experts at TravelMath.com looked at germ swabs from a handful of airports and airplanes and found that when we travel, we’re most exposed to the most germs in pretty surprising places.

For starters, restrooms were some of the cleaner surfaces tested—which is both surprising and a little disheartening for what the rest of the results will hold. (Minimize the health hazards at home by fixing these 5 Bathroom Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making.)

The dirtiest place on the planes? The tray tables. In fact, this surface has almost six times as many germs as your countertop at home. And most of the top five germiest places were things that passenger after passenger touches most, like overhead air vents and seatbelt buckles.

The researchers attribute this to the likelihood that the cleaning staff is pretty thorough in the more obvious places, like the restroom, but that with increased pressure to deboard and board quickly, they probably don’t clean the easy-to-overlook places as thoroughly. (Just like these 7 Things You’re Not Washing (But Should Be).)

The good news? All the samples were void of the grossest of germs, fecal coliforms like E. Coli, which are notorious for making people seriously sick. Check out the full results below.

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