These Public Spaces Do Get Cleaned, But How Often (Or Little) They Do Will Make You Disgusted

It can be easy to ignore just how dirty public spaces are. We like to imagine that when we go out to eat, the people handling our food washed their hands. We want to believe that airlines actually clean out the waste tanks on a regular basis. But every once in a while, one can't help but wonder: just how often are public spaces cleaned? Are public bathrooms cleaned? Are public trains and buses cleaned? 

Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is often no. Public spaces can go days, weeks, months, or even years, without ever being properly cleaned. What are some of the dirtiest public spaces? How about the cleanest? How many germs are you being exposed to be simply existing in the world? The answers to these questions may surprise you - and totally gross you out.

  • Airplanes Are Giant Metal Tubes Of Poop

    Airplanes Are Giant Metal Tubes Of Poop
    Photo: Pixabay

    It's a common belief that airplanes are a hotbed for disease. After all, you're in an enclosed space, squished up against another person who may or may not be dropping used tissues onto the ground. Bad news: airplanes are even dirtier than you may have thought. There often isn't much time between flights to do any significant cleaning - in most cases, nothing gets done besides some light vacuuming and trash collection. Surfaces might get wiped down, but when this happens, it's typically just the first class seats. Coach seats are often untouched. Deep cleaning of an individual aircraft may happen as infrequently as every three months - and in the late 90s and 2000s, it could be once a year.

    Another particularly gross thing about airplanes is that the waste tanks aren't always emptied and cleaned between flights. Generally, they wait until the tank is full. An A380 plan can hold 554 lbs of human waste, so it may be several flights before a change occurs.

  • Public Bathrooms Aren't As Clean As One Would Hope

    Public Bathrooms Aren't As Clean As One Would Hope
    Photo: Pixabay

    Public bathrooms aren't exactly known for being bastions of cleanliness, but how dirty are they, exactly? 

    Most public bathrooms are regularly cleaned, but a lot can get in the way of doing a thorough job. 58% of hygiene professionals claim that lack of time is the main thing preventing them from doing an optimal job, while 45% claim that the real problem is excessive foot traffic - it's hard to clean a toilet while its in use, after all. Other problems include lack of cleaning supplies and lack of training. 

    The result of these difficulties is that, unfortunately, public bathrooms aren't always clean. Particularly dirty spots include faucets, toilet handles, and feminine hygiene trash cans.

  • Keeping Chicago Buses And Trains Clean Is A Trial

    Chicago's mass transit system is used by thousands of people every day. As a result, even the most diligent CTA employees have a hard time keeping the vehicles clean. Each train car and bus is spot cleaned at the end of the day, while a deeper cleaning occurs every two weeks.

    Despite these efforts, more needs to be done to create a clean and safe experience. One of the biggest issues is actually the upholstered seat inserts, which are difficult to thoroughly sanitize. Right now, the CTA uses water vacuum cleaning machines to sanitize the seat inserts, but this may not be enough. The vacuum takes care of the visible filth, but may not address anything microscopic. 

  • Fast Food Restaurants Are Often Filthy

    While no one expects the fast food experience to be fancy, most people at least expect it to be clean. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. In a survey of 1,000 fast food restaurants across the USA, 1,755 critical violations (or, factors that could contaminate food) were found. 613 of these restaurants had at least one violation. Some of these violations were blatantly disgusting. According to Dateline:

    In a Chicago Wendy’s, inspectors found a dead rodent decomposing on a rat trap. At a California Taco Bell, someone bit into a taco, only to find chewing gum. An inspector in Texas found a worm in a Wendy’s salad. At a Hardee’s in Florida, a customer was handed a cup of soda with blood dripping from it. There was blood on her change as well.

    While these incidents are dramatic, they're actually not as dangerous as less visible issues, like the presence of potentially deadly viruses and bacteria. 

  • Water Parks Are Vats Of Disease

    Water Parks Are Vats Of Disease
    Photo: Pixabay

    Water parks might seem like a great place to cool off on a hot day, but they're also vats of disease. First off, it's a kid-heavy environment, which means that at some point, somebody will pee in the water - or worse.

    Secondly, weirder things have appeared in the water. For example, a section of the The National Whitewater Center was shut down in the summer of 2016 after brain eating amoeba were found in the water. Tragically, they weren't discovered before 18-year-old Lauren Seitz died of an amoeba infection.

    While the amoeba are probably the worst thing to appear in a water park, Reddit user thebloodofthematador, a water park employee, details items they've fished out of hte drain:

    We've pulled out innumerable weaves and fake nails. Lots of little dead animals - voles, mice, birds, the like. Band-aids, condoms, dirty swim diapers, tampons, glass, trash of all sorts, including food trash. Wallets. Phones. Empty sunscreen tubes. Just, everything. People are disgusting.

    In short, swimming in a water park is riskier than swimming in your home toilet.

  • NYC Sidewalks Are Sometimes Made Up Of Literal Trash

    NYC sidewalks can be some of the most aggressively filthy spots on the planet. City-dwellers leave their bags of household garbage on the sidewalk itself, and it can sit there for hours before it gets picked up. Dog feces, vomit, and empty chip bags festoon the streets. Street sweepers do come by a few times a week, which isn't nearly enough to make up for the mess made by 8 million residents. If you're going to walk down an NYC street, be sure to wear thick-soled shoes.