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How are airplanes cleaned?

Article published
31.07.2017 kl 06:00
Backside of the seats in an airplane.
People & Aviation
Cleaning airplanes is a process that requires excellent collaboration within the space constraints of the aircraft.

We interviewed Sanna Jordman, an Account Manager at ISS, about the process of keeping your ride in the sky spotless.

“If you’ve ever boarded a Japan Airlines, Lufthansa or Norwegian flight at the Helsinki Airport, there’s a good chance that it’s been cleaned by our staff,” says Jordman.

“The type of cleaning we do varies quite a lot depending on the plane and the airline. Some airlines prefer the crew to do the cleaning, leaving us to pick up the bags of garbage. In practice, all planes are given at least a quick clean every time they land, and a more thorough sweep overnight.

“Aircraft turn times are quite short these days, which requires that we act quickly and turn up on the heels of the last passenger. Both our entrance and exit times are clocked meticulously. Our cleaners have perfected their moves so that no time is wasted but the quality of their work remains high.”

“At our speediest, we can clean the cabin in about 5 minutes."

“At our speediest, we can clean the cabin in about 5 minutes. You cannot overestimate the importance of great teamwork: everyone needs to know what their tasks are to function at speed in a cramped space. Often, the airline requires that the safety information is placed in the seat pocket in a certain way, for example, which calls for a great deal of attention from the cleaner.”

“Some of the aircraft we work with is cleaned by just one person, at most we have eight people on site. Sometimes we use special tools, like chargeable vacuum cleaners, because their plugs don’t suit the plane sockets.”

“Our staff regularly find objects left behind by the passengers. Once, we were contacted by a very upset passenger who had left a pair of Marimekko socks in their seat pocket. It was a lesson in realizing that what you think of as garbage disposed of on purpose can be really valuable to someone else!”

“The most challenging stains? The ones familiar from home — wine!”

Read more: Why quick turnarounds are crucial for airlines