Hand Dryers Spread Bacteria in Restrooms

Nov. 20, 2014

Study finds paper towel dispensers carry far fewer germs.

While modern bathroom hand dryers may be more sustainable than paper towels, they could also be harboring harmful bacteria. New research from the University of Leeds shows that the space surrounding jet dryers is more contaminated than the air near paper towel dispensers, and nearly 50% of germs can stay airborne for over five minutes after the drying cycle ends.

The study, published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, tested a harmless form of bacteria applied to researchers’ hands to mimic hands that had been improperly washed and subsequently measured air bacterial counts around jet air dryers, warm air dryers, and paper towel dispensers. The amount of germs recorded near jet air dryers was 4.5 times higher than around warm air dryers, and a full 27 times higher than the air surrounding paper towel dispensers.

“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,” says Mark Wilcox, lead author of the study.

Looking for ways to improve your facility's bathroom hygiene? Good idea, restroom satisfaction has been shown to be vital to occupant comfort. 

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