You’ll Want to Steal the Genius Way Flight Attendants Deal with Smelly Bathrooms

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This super-simple method virtually eliminates bathroom odor. In fact, you might want to steal it to use in your own home!

When you think about it, airplane bathrooms really do sound like a recipe for disaster. Tiny rooms, no windows, unable to be emptied throughout the entire flight—often several hours. (If you’ve ever wondered what actually happens when you flush an airplane toilet, look no further.) But many flight attendants are now using this clever—and super simple—trick to keep bad smells away.

According to Travel & Leisure, if the plane potty starts smelling a bit questionable, flight attendants will brew up a strong pot of coffee. They’ll take the coffee into the bathroom with them when they go to clean it. The smell of the coffee is apparently so strong that it masks all other odors, even icky bathroom ones. (By the way, here are other secrets flight attendants wish they could tell you.)

This method works so well that some attendants have developed variations. Sometimes they’ll even pour coffee down the toilet, which will kill bacteria in addition to eliminating the smell. Or, before the flight even starts, they’ll use coffee as a kind of Poo-Pourri, tucking bags of grounds next to the bowl. So next time you’re on a plane and are hesitant to use the bathroom, ask a flight attendant for a bag of coffee grounds. Just think twice before you actually drink coffee on a plane; here’s why.

Though planes have popularized this odor-busting trick, it can be used anywhere—so if you’ve got coffee (or grounds) to spare, consider using them to keep your own bathroom fresh. While you’re at it, check out these genius house cleaning hacks from professional cleaners.

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.