This Airport Is the First Airport in the World with Security Bins That Clean Themselves

Say goodbye to germs.

security binsCourtesy Akron-Canton AirportAirports aren’t exactly known for being the healthiest places. Once you’re onboard your flight, you’re stuck with 200 people breathing in recycled air (but your seat isn’t even the germiest place on a plane). But the airplane itself isn’t the only place you need to worry about germs.

Think about how many people go through the security line before you. Hundreds of other travelers have grabbed those bins with their hands. Those people plop in their dirty shoes, cell phones (which have way more germs than you realized), and the handbags they always leave on the floor. Now in go your own belongings, which can pick up any bacteria left by the previous traveler.

And the germ levels can get pretty gross. An investigation from TODAY swabbed X-ray security bins, and found enough fecal matter to make a person sick—literally. “We’re talking about skin or soft-tissue infections, which can potentially lead to overwhelming infections in your bloodstream,” emergency medicine specialist Robert Glatter, MD, told TODAY. So even if you use these tips to avoid getting sick on a plane, you might pick up germs way before boarding.

With security lines already taking long enough, it’s not really a surprise that airports aren’t eager to wash the bins every time they’re used. But one airport came up with a genius solution. The bins at Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio are the only ones in the world that clean themselves.

NanoTouch Materials created mats and skins that are made of tiny particles called mineral nanocrystals. When those nanocrystals are in the light, a chemical reaction breaks down contaminants. In fact, the self-cleaning method is even stronger than bleach, according to an Akron-Canton Airport press release.

security binsCourtesy Akron-Canton AirportThe skins and mats, which were donated by Western Reserve Hospital, cover the bottoms and handles of the airport’s security bins, so you’re protected from the germs on travelers’ hands and belongings. (Don’t miss these other tips to avoid getting sick.)

If only we could get some self-cleaning technology for our kids’ rooms. In the meantime, we’ll be avoiding these airplane travel mistakes to keep healthy on flights, then sneak in these cleaning hacks back at home.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.