Cleaned for take-off: Naomi Campbell’s extreme inflight hygiene routine

The supermodel recently revealed the germ-busting ritual she undertakes when boarding a plane. But do the experts think we should follow suit?

First the latex gloves go on, the antiseptic wipes come out, and then Naomi Campbell gets to work. A video recently posted by the supermodel on YouTube shows the extraordinary hygiene routine she undertakes every time she takes a flight. “This is what I do on every plane I get on. I do not care what people think of me,” she says, buffing the back of the headrest. She wipes, she says, “everything you touch” – armrests, tray table, TV remote, window. A replacement seat cover then comes out and, once she sits down, she puts a mask over her face. But should we all be going to such extreme lengths to protect ourselves from germs while flying?

Watch Naomi Campbell’s cleaning routine

“It’s slightly over the top,” says Katy Peters, director of the London Vaccination Clinic, “although it’s a system that reassures her.” Peters admits that plane seats can be “pretty filthy” and while it’s not necessary to travel with wipes, washing your hands regularly is really important, she says. Campbell doesn’t reveal what she does when she goes to the loo (a full hazmat suit, perhaps?). However, according to the microbiologist Charles Gerba, that’s the dirtiest place on a plane, followed by tray tables and the overhead compartments.

Ultimately, though, where you are sat on a flight can dictate what lurgies you end up with. Howard Weiss, a biomathematician at the Georgia Institute of Technology, modelled behaviour on flights and calculated the risks of becoming ill with airborne diseases. “Direct transmission of diseases such as flu is very unlikely beyond passengers seated about a metre away from the infected passenger,” says Weiss. “For flu, I think the worst case was overall there would be two additional infections in the entire economy cabin.”

Weiss and his team also took swabs from planes. “What we found was the bacteria that you find in an airplane looks a lot like in your home or office. If you are not immune-compromised, then as long as you keep your hands away from your face, you’re probably going to be fine. People have this impression that airplanes are like sewers, but we’ve shown that’s not the case.”


Emine Saner

The GuardianTramp

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