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Things to Remember When Performing an Onboard Aircraft Overnight Cleaning

Keeping an aircraft clean is no easy task. With thousands of flights taking off everyday day, these cleaning crews need to work quickly and routinely to ensure everything is spotless. For passengers, a tidy cabin is not only a comfortable flight - but a safe one, as keeping the aircraft clean reduces germs and the risk of people getting sick onboard.
When it comes to running a clean ship (or aircraft in this case) here are the areas that will need to be looked after, but first, let's see how an overnight clean differs from other cleaning operations of an onboard aircraft.

What’s an overnight clean?

It’s because of an aircraft’s high turnover that these planes will undergo three different types of cleaning operations, “a turn clean” “overnight clean” and a “deep clean”. From the names alone, you may have already guessed when each of these cleans takes place.

A turn clean happens when an aircraft is due to take off soon after, this light clean will usually focus on the galley areas, toilets and removal of trash or items from the cabin areas.

Overnight cleans are performed when an aircraft has retired for the day and will focus on the customer areas such as seats, trays and toilet areas but also extending to the galley and lavatory areas.

A deep clean involves striping the aircraft of its seats to expose the floors for a detailed clean. Cabinets, storage and other compartments are also the focus of this run-through.

What to check off during an overnight aircraft cleaning?

Now that we’ve covered what an overnight clean is, here are the following areas to cover when performing an onboard aircraft cleaning:

Passenger cabins

Cleaning passenger cabins means removing all trash and forgotten items from the seats, pockets and overhead compartments. Also, be sure to remove any soiled blankets or pillows.

Once all items and trash have been removed from the cabins, you’ll want to remove any stubborn and harden stains from the seat upholstery using a non-toxic remover.

Moving on you’ll want to wipe down and disinfect all surfaces including armrests, seatbelts and adjacent wall and window areas.

Finally, once everything has been disinfected vacuum the floors and the aeroplane seats.

Flight deck

Similarly to the passenger cabins start by clearing any items from the flight deck and emptying waste boxes. Clean all surfaces including doors, seats, tables and glass holders, walls and windows. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the insides of the flight deck windows. 


First, empty the waste bins and insert new waste bags. Then wipe all surfaces including the baby-change table. Be sure to disinfect every surface before starting on the floors. Once the floors have been clean replenish the soap dispensers and toiletry items. 


For cleaning the galley empty all waste bins replacing their bags. Clean all surfaces, including the service trolleys. Be sure to pay attention to the doors, latches and any ventilation grids, as well as the inside and outside of the ovens. To prevent the spread of germs, disinfect each surface and finish by cleaning the floors. 

Things to remember for cleaning the onboard aircraft

1. Use the right cleaning products

      When selecting the right products, make sure they are either specially designed for the aircraft or are approved by major airlines. When using your products, make sure all your tools are maintained and sanitised before use. You’ll want to use a range of disinfectants and stain removers as well as a range of clothes, wipes and machinery depending on the space and surface you are cleaning.

      2. Wear personal protective equipment

      When performing any cleaning on board, crew members should always wear/use personal protective equipment (PPE). This equipment, including a facemask and gloves for wear, are essential for removing/cleaning biohazard waste and spills. The crew are also advised to wash hands and use alcohol-based sanitiser to prevent the spread of germs further.

      3. Comply with the manuals or instructions

      Before cleaning ensure that the cleaning products and procedures comply with the details of the aircraft’s maintenance manuals or manufacturer's instructions, Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH) and other relevant product information. Make sure the cleaning products and techniques are compatible with the interior of the aircraft for cleaning. Generally approved cleaners (non-flammable) should be used for cleaning due to the confined nature of the aircraft interior.

      Regardless of the clean being undertaken on the aircraft following safety and instructions is the key to keeping passengers both safe and happy. This guide, while intended to educate but should always be used in compliance with industry standards.

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