Make a clean break on your holiday with these cleaning tips

We’re travelling again, but no-one wants to spend a minute of their newfound freedom sick in bed.

We’re all a bit more aware of public and personal hygiene since the pandemic hit, but while COVID is a genuine concern, sometimes it’s good, old-fashioned germs that can turn a great holiday into a gastro-infected nightmare.

Preparation is the key. As well as the ubiquitous hand sanitiser and wipes, make sure to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. And keeping a keen eye out for germ ‘hot spots’, and how to deal with them, is also a good way to get the best out of your time away.

Here are some of the germiest places to avoid, starting at the airport: self-service check-in kiosks, check-in counters and baggage drops. If you can’t give them a quick wipe over, make sure to wash your hands or sanitise them after you have completed your check in.

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So, you’re in the air, boy is it germy here.

According to, aircraft bathroom toilet flush buttons actually have fewer germs on them than passenger seat headrests, overhead air vent dials, tray table latches, seat belt buckles and window shade handles.

You’re going to need sanitising wipes right away. Give everything a good, energetic wipe following the manufacturer’s instructions. You’ll probably look a bit weird, but don’t worry, it’s better than getting sick.

Don’t use the wipes on upholstered surfaces. If you are truly worried, you can buy reusable seat, tray table and headrest covers. Headrest covers are your best bet, especially if you have an aisle seat, as people will often grab the headrest for balance walking up and down the aisles to the toilets.

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And so, to airplane toilets. Wipe everything down with sanitising wipes and try to avoid touching anything unnecessarily. Use paper towels to turn taps off and on and open the door. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and dry completely.

And here’s our tip for the seatback pockets: don’t use them. Unless the plane has been deep cleaned immediately before your flight, this area is a germfest.

People put their food, drink containers and rubbish here and due to their very nature, they are difficult to clean. There is nothing in a plane seat bag, apart from the sick bags, you are going to need in any sort of hurry, so use your own bags.

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You can just use a simple bag, or there are plenty of automotive seat-back bags on the market that can be used on a flight at a pinch, but buying a specialised flight seat-back bag is a much better alternative.

There is a great range on the market, from fold-up pockets to backpacks that can double as luggage.

Plus, if you only use your seat pack, you will never leave anything behind on the plane. I’m still salty about a book I left on a flight to Queensland 10 years ago.

Okay, you’ve landed, time to check in. Once again be wary of any public, often used surface such as check-in counters, lift buttons and lobby doors. If you can’t avoid using them, either use your elbow (we’re talking lift buttons here, it might be hard to check in with your elbows) or wash your hands as soon as possible after using them.

Once inside your hotel room, get your sanitising wipes going once again. Common sense will tell you where to get cracking; door handles, toilets, light switches, remotes and desktops.

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Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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