Flight Attendants Are Begging Passengers To Please Stop Doing This One Thing On Planes

Empty airplane aisle with rows of vacant seats, with a single person standing near the exit at the back of the plane
Tatsiana Volkava via Getty Images

Airplane safety is paramount to flight attendants. They inform passengers of emergency protocols and flight rules, ensure bags are properly tucked away so no one gets hurt, and help everyone be comfortable during their journey.

But while flight attendants work hard 30,000 feet in the air to keep people safe, many passengers do something detrimental to themselves and others: walking barefoot into the plane lavatory.

Recently, flight attendants on Reddit lamented about this unbelievably common habit. For your own well-being — and other passengers’ — flight attendants would like you to stop doing this, please.

“Passengers use the bathrooms all the time on the airplane with either bare feet or with only socks on,” Elizabeth Regan, a flight attendant at a commercial airline, told HuffPost.

This in-flight habit gives flight attendants “the ick” because of what could be on the restroom floor. Hilary Clark, inflight services director for California-based private jet company Planet 9 and former commercial flight attendant, told HuffPost that seeing people use the restroom barefoot is “quite concerning.” “During our training, we learned that the liquid on the lavatory floor is often more than just water,” she said.

Not to mention the fact that it’s just gross and inconsiderate to other passengers. Regan added, “It is completely unsanitary.”

Airplane lavatory with an open toilet lid, gray handle, and two rolls of toilet paper on a shelf
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In general, public restrooms can be hot spots for germs. A 2015 study from TravelMath found that the lavatory flush button on planes had 265 colony-forming units (CFU) per square inch, compared to 172 CFU on home toilet seats. While most of these germs aren’t a huge threat to a healthy adult, it’s better to reduce your risk of exposure.

“Airplane lavatories are used frequently by many passengers during flights, leading to high-touch surfaces such as door handles, flush buttons, sink faucets, and toilet seats becoming contaminated with various pathogens,” said Dr. Dahlia Philips, an infectious disease physician and medical director for MetroPlusHealth’s Partnership in Care Special Needs Plan. “Walking barefoot exposes your feet to bacteria, viruses and fungi that can enter through cuts or abrasions on your feet.”

As a general rule, Clark said going barefoot into the lavatory is “unhygienic and should always be avoided.” She suggests people bring a pair of slippers or put on disposable slippers instead of walking around barefoot. (You could also just keep your regular shoes on.)

Philips agreed, adding that you should wear socks into the lavatory at the very least “to minimize direct contact with the floor.”

A sign above a sink area in an airplane shows symbols for men, women, and a baby changing station. Nearby, a label reads,
goldhafen via Getty Images

Dr. Gonzalo Bearman, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at VCU Health, noted that while airplane lavatories “generally pose no greater threat than the use of public bathrooms, which are also low risk,” there are several precautions you can take to reduce the likelihood of picking up an infection.

“The best approach to cleanliness is proper handwashing and hand hygiene after the use of the airplane bathroom,” he told HuffPost.

“Also, when flushing the toilet, it is best to close the toilet lid prior to flushing the toilet. This minimizes the risk of a toilet plume —the dispersal of microscopic particles as a result of a toilet flush,” he said. These microscopic particles could potentially cause infections like norovirus, so it’s best to avoid them if you can.

Philips suggested using toilet seat covers or lining the toilet with paper, avoiding touching your face after using the toilet, using hand sanitizer afterward, and avoiding drinking or rinsing your mouth with lavatory water.

“Lastly, to avoid recontamination, consider using paper towels to turn off the faucet and open the door,” she said.

You should also practice basic flight courtesy by always cleaning up after using the restroom (and making sure to actually flush the toilet!). “Leaving a mess is inconsiderate to both the flight attendants and other passengers,” Clark said.

Regan suggested using the airport restroom before you board the plane as well. “The strangest thing I noticed, and is a pet peeve among fellow flight attendants, is that people wait until they get onto the plane to use the restroom,” Regan said. “It’s mind-boggling that you wouldn’t use the restroom while you’re in the terminal. It’s a nice big restroom with plenty of room to move about, and proper water, soap and amenities are at most gates.”

Flying should be as enjoyable as possible, but passengers shouldn’t forget they are still in a public place. Save the barefoot bathroom habits for home and keep your shoes firmly on while on a plane. This article originally appeared on HuffPost.