I’m sorry, TSA bins have WHAT in them??

“Presence of dangerous bacteria….evidence of fecal matter….can potentially lead to overwhelming infections in your wipesbloodstream.”  Sounds scary, right?  Where would something like this be? you might ask.  Well, according to a travel story from NBC tests revealed it was in security bins at an airport!

It makes unfortunate, disgusting sense when you think about it.  Shoes go in those bins.  Think about all the nasty places we have to walk in our shoes.  Now multiply that by the number of times the bin gets shoes put in it before it’s cleaned.  Same goes for luggage.   We roll our luggage on the same floors we walk on.  Our luggage then gets put on the belt where those same bins roll across.  Our laptops go in those bins which in turn go back in our bag to spread the bacteria even further.  The list goes on and on. Then there’s the machine that tests liquids when you need bring something like breast milk through security for your child.  Are those machines cleaned between every test??

I took it upon myself to get a response from the TSA.  I provided them a link to the story and asked how often they clean the security bins and the machine that tests liquids that need to go through security.  Here’s what they said-

      Thank you for your e-mail to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Contact Center, regarding how often we clean the divestiture bins at our Nation’s airports.

     The TSA management at each airport is responsible for the orderly operations and safe working conditions at their respective sites.  Bins are maintained on a schedule as determined by local staff, as well as on an as-needed basis to address immediate spills, etc.  Divestiture tables, screening equipment (e.g., liquid container screening machines), are similarly maintained on a schedule determined by local management.

     Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with us, and we hope this information is helpful.

It was the answer I was expecting:  a safe, nonspecific response.  Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate the TSA getting back to me on this, but it’s obvious that the current methods they use to keep security clean isn’t working.  I’m not a cleanliness expert by any means but there has to be a way to keep those areas cleaner. Maybe instead of using bins for shoes they could use flat trays?  The flat trays would take up way less room and the cleaning of them could be managed more effectively.  As far as the liquid machine goes, they should disinfect that after every use if they aren’t doing so already.  It just seems like that machine could spread bacteria pretty easily.

I’m guessing there won’t be any changes to the security bin cleaning schedule in the near future so bring disinfectant wipes (they are allowed through security)—that way if you have to use the bins you can at least clean them first. Although the best case scenario is to get TSA Pre-check so you don’t have to take your shoes off or take anything out of your bag! Of course, no matter what you do, make sure to wash your hands frequently while traveling.

If you’ve got a few minutes, watch that whole video. It’s pretty terrible but I for one am glad to know what’s really there. Ick.  Read about staying healthy while traveling from a previous post I did.

Readers, what are your thoughts? Would you ever wipe a security bin down before using it?


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  1. I can barely get my things into the bins and onto the belts without those behind me squeezing in between and cutting ahead of our bins. I’m trying to keep track of all my stuff so wait 1 second please. Granted this is PHL so rudeness is expected…

  2. One of my favorite TSA agents of all time repeatedly announces to those in line “If possible, put small items in your bag. Think about it… If you put your phone in the bin, shoes go in that bin. Then you have the bottom of people’s’ shoes on your face when you answer your phone.”

    I would rather spend time wiping my items post-security if I had to use bins than hold up the line cleaning the bin.

  3. Everything has germs. IMHO people need to stop being so germaphobic. Germs are good to keep your natural immune system working hard. We all need to lay off the hand sanitizer and wipes 24/7

  4. Every time I go through the regular (not Pre-Check) line, they are constantly telling everyone to put their shoes directly on the belt and not in the bins. Maybe if people did this it would help. The only thing I put in the regular bin is my laptop. I put my liquids bag in one of the bowls and shoes on the belt.

  5. I watch with disgust when George Clooney’s character puts his shoes in the bin in Up in the Air.

    I know all those shoes stepping on dog poo and worse. I never put my own shoes in the bin, if it ever makes any difference.

    But my complaint is different. I’m 90% of the time TSA Pre✓. They never have bins in TSA Pre✓. My jacket has too many gadgets in the pockets that I can efficiently put them in the small key trey, so I opt to take off my jacket and toss it into the big tray. I know my jacket will get dog poo and E.coli, but it’s a consensual risk.

    And supermarket shopping carts probably have even worse fecal contamination than airports with kids (often older than toddlers and infants) riding them in the main compartment with all their dog poo crusted shoes.

  6. Get over it-you all have immune systems for Heaven’s sake! Angelina is perfectly right, people here have become obsessed with killing every bacterium in sight-a lot of them are harmless and there’s mounting evidence that many are not only beneficial but necessary for the proper development of the immune system.

  7. Maharandi your so right people these days are scared of germs like they will die like they always wash there hands before going to the toilet and after please and then they wash there hands before eating a meal why waste of water

  8. 1. Get a plastic bag.
    2. Put it in the bin spreading it apart.
    3. Put your stuff on it.
    4. After going through the checkout, dump the plastic bag.

    You can get thin plastic sheets at Walmart and other places that you can cut to whatever size you want. If TSA is concerned about the disposed plastic bags, they can come up with a solution to sanitize the bins or not have people put their shoes in it.

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