Hand dryers are an economical way for owners of public restrooms to avoid the recurring costs of paper towels. They’re standard features in restaurants like McDonald’s. And some believe that, because you touch relatively little to activate them, they are more sanitary than other options for drying hands. But are they?
This Facebook post is making people think twice.
“Ok guys..ready to have your mind blown?!” Nichole Ward, of California, writes. “This here, Is what grew in a Petri dish after just a few days.”
“I stuck the open plate in an enclosed hand dryer of a public bathroom for a total of 3 minutes. Yes 3 only. DO NOT EVER dry your hands in those things again. This is the several strains of possible pathogenic fungi and bacteria that you’re swirling around your hands, and you think you’re walking out with clean hands. You’re welcome.”
What kind of hand dryer was used? The New York Post says it was a Dyson Airblade. The Dyson is one of the more expensive models.
Ward “incubated” the bacteria for 48 hours.
“We’re very surprised to see these results, and unclear on the methodology employed,” a Dyson spokesperson told ABC Action News. “All Dyson AirbladeTM hand dryers have HEPA filters that capture particles as small as bacteria from the washroom air before it leaves the machine. Dyson AirbladeTM hand dryers are proven hygienic by university research and are trusted by hospitals, food manufacturers and businesses worldwide.”
“From now on I just wash and scrub, and dry on my clothes or shake and air dry OUTSIDE of the [restroom],” she said.
The unscientific findings confirm what many already feel. Washing hands often requires touching something in the bathroom. Faucets, soap dispensers and even trash cans are crawling with bacteria.
The hand dryers are also problematic because they force air around inside a closed space. Some jets point down, stirring up the detritus on the floor. Most air dryers heat up the air, creating a perfect environment for bacterial growth. When you add the moisture of wet hands into the mix, the problem gets even worse.
So how do you sanitize your hands?