Are hand dryers unhygienic?


Kathleen Lee Joe

I have long believed that blowing your hands with the hand dryer is a sure-fire way to undo the good work of having washed them in the first place.

Surely that amalgam of moisture, heat and bacteria would result in a breeding ground for nasty things? Who wants a warm whoosh of poo particles on their hands right before sitting down for dinner? My bias even extends to the fancy Dyson ones.

Of course, I’ve tried to preach this theory to many a friend but they have brushed it off as obsessive-compulsive behaviour, linking it to my refusal to pet dogs, consume unwashed fruit, brave hostel floors barefooted, touch bus handrails, subway poles and the buttons at pedestrian crossings.

Well, alas! A recent study has – somewhat – confirmed what I’ve long suspected. This video will change your public restroom behaviour forever. My fear of bare-bottom contact with toilet seats may have gone unfounded, but now I am vindicated.

According to AsapSCIENCE, paper towels are superior, as the friction created is an important factor in eliminating the bacteria. Conversely, dryers can actually blow bacteria onto your hands as they use contaminated bathroom air. Yick.

Though both drying methods are effective, it also takes a lot longer for a hand dryer to get the job done – 45 seconds for moisture to reduce by 97 per cent. With paper towels, it only takes just 10 seconds to achieve the same effect.

That said, the method of drying doesn’t matter too much if you’re washing your hands properly (with soap) to begin with.

And whatever you do, don’t even think about shaking your hands and pushing open the restroom door or wiping them dry on your clothes. This can contaminate your hands even more as bacteria transfers from your jeans to your mitts.

Of course, the environmentally friendly option is hand dryers as paper towels have greater carbon emissions when everything is taken into account.

What’s the optimum arrangement when weighing up the pros and cons? Advocate Joe Smith proposes this clever shake-and-fold method – shake your hands of most of the moisture before drying on a double fold as to not waste paper. Genius!



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