New research has shown that high-powered hand dryers may seem ultra-hygienicat first glance, but actually spread more germs than paper towels. Scientists at the University of Leeds found that airborne germs around jet air dryers were 27 times more numerous than in the proximity of paper towel dispensers.
So researchers involved in the study decided to see what happens to germs when people use a hand dryer rather than paper towel in the bathroom. In order to simulate a person who “poorly washed” their hands, researchers coated their hands in a type of bacerita called lactobacilli or paint and then ran them under hand dryers. They reportedly used both jet air and warm air 60 times.
They found that in addition to dry hands, the hand dryers lead to more bacteria in the air. The jet air dryers did the most damage. That is because the intense air propulsion the dryers employ shoots filthy, bacteria-laden droplets all over the area where the dryers are located and leaves huge amounts of bacteria on people’s hands. However “old-fashioned” air hand dryers that use much less pressure are four and a half times dirtier than paper towels.
It appears that the so-called “quick dry, sanitary” jet bathroom hand dryers are anything but a clean way to dry the hands. They appear to force huge amounts of bacteria into the air; bacteria which then settles on surrounding surfaces. Researchers say that one of the reasons why hand dryers are 27 times dirtier than using paper towels is that hand dryers operate at a temperature in which bacteria thrive and grow rapidly. There is no such problem with paper towels.
“Next time you dry your hands in a public toilet using an electric hand dryer, you may be spreading bacteria without knowing it. You may also be splattered with bugs from other people’s hands,”
Mark Wilcox of the University of Leeds, involved in the study said in a university news release.
“These findings are important for understanding the ways in which bacteria spread, with the potential to transmit illness and disease,”
The study was published Nov. 20 in the Journal of Hospital Infection and was also presented at the Healthcare Infection Society International Conference in Lyon, France.