Hand dryers spread more germs than paper towels, study says

Airborne germ counts were 27 time higher


ORLANDO, Fla. – When it comes to drying your hands, hand towels are the wiser choice.

At least that's what researchers are saying.

Scientists at the University of Leeds have discovered that high-powered jet-air and warm air hand dryers are much worse at spreading bacteria than paper towels in public restrooms.

They found that airborne germ counts were four and a half times higher near hand dryers, and 27 times higher around jet air dryers. Both were compared to towel dispensers.

According to the study, both jet and warm hand dryers spread bacteria into the air and back onto users nearby.

For the study, the research team contaminated hands with Lactobacillus, a harmless type of bacteria not normally found in public restrooms. Then they took samples of the bacteria at distances up to 2 meters from the dryer after people dried their hands.

The study leader, Prof Mark Wilcox of the University of Leeds, told the Huffington Post in an email:

"While jet air dryers are good at hand drying, they achieve this by using air velocities of about 400 miles an hour... Unfortunately, this means that the dispersed water droplets (containing more or less bacteria/viruses depending on how hands were washed and how contaminated they were in the first place) will be fired longer distances and some will remain suspended in the air for many minutes (possibly hours)."