Hand Dryers Spread 27 Times More Germs Around The Room Than Paper Towels

It might be time to revert back to paper towels, as scientists have shown that hand dryers aren't actually that effective when it comes to combating germs.

According to researchers it could also be spreading bacteria around the room.

The study, conducted by Leeds University, found that airborne germ counts are 27 times higher around jet air dryers than paper towel dispensers.

Researchers found that both jet and warm air hand dryers spread bacteria into the air and onto users and those nearby, with jet hand dryers causing the worst amount of germ disruption.

Led by Professor Mark Wilcox of the School of Medicine, the study involved contaminating hands with a harmless type of bacteria called Lactobacillus, which is not normally found in public bathrooms.

This was done to mimic hands that were poorly washed.

Detection of the Lactobacillus bacteria in the air proved that it must have come from the hands during drying.

Air samples were then collected around the hand dryers and also at distances of one and two metres away.

Bacterial counts in the air surrounding the jet air dryers were found to be 4.5 times higher than around warm air dryers and 27 times higher compared with the air when using paper towels.

Meanwhile, next to the dryers, bacteria persisted in the air well beyond the 15 second hand-drying time, with approximately half (48%) of the Lactobacilli collected more than five minutes after drying ended.

Lactobacilli were still detected in the air 15 minutes after hand drying.

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Professor Wilcox said: “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.

“These findings are important for understanding the ways in which bacteria spread, with the potential to transmit illness and disease.”

Meanwhile Dyson argue that their Airblade™ hand dryer has been proven to be as hygienic as paper towels, through research commissioned by Dyson and conducted by the University of Bradford (published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology).

“This research was commissioned by the paper towel industry and its flawed. They have tested glove covered hands, which have been contaminated with unrealistically high levels of bacteria, and not washed," said Toby Saville, Dyson microbiologist.

"The Dyson Airblade hand dryer is the fastest, most hygienic way to dry hands and it produces up to 71 per cent less CO2 than paper towels. It can dry 18 pairs of hands for the price of a single paper towel,” he added.

[H/T Telegraph]