Are Bathroom Hand Dryers Unsanitary?


hand dryers

Many facilities install hand dryers in their bathrooms instead of paper towels to reduce the waste created by paper towels and the germs that paper towels could leave behind when drying your hands. Recently, however, studies have shown hand dryers causing more harm than good in terms of bacteria and germs.

If you’re designing a bathroom or a related facility and you’re unsure of whether you should install hand dryers, learn more about the pros and cons of this option.

Facts About Hand Dryers

British researchers from the University of Leeds conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of warm-air dryers, high-powered “jet-air” dryers, and paper towels. Jet-air dryers were found to be the worst option, with bacteria levels in the air around them 4.5 times higher than with warm-air dryers and 27 times higher than with paper towel dispensers. Even five minutes after use, 48% of the bacteria was collected around the hand dryers, and they were still detected 15 minutes after use.

Mark Wilcox, team leader of the University of Leeds study, said, “These findings are important for understanding the ways in which bacteria spread, with the potential to transmit illness and disease.”

Keith Redway of the University of Westminster in London also conducted several studies to determine the most germ-free method of hand drying, yielding the same results: Jet-air dryers increase the amount of bacteria on your hands after washing them.

Hand Dryer Advantages and Disadvantages

While hand dryers allow people to dry their hands without having to create waste from paper towels, the air that comes from inside the jet dryers isn’t sterile. A filter beneath the dryer is supposed to be cleaned weekly, but many places don’t clean it properly. This leads to layers of bacteria becoming caked on the dryer’s vents. The air then travels through these bacteria, contributing to a dirtier bathroom, with machines sending germs more than 6 feet away.

Another disadvantage of hand dryers is that people don’t always use them correctly. People don’t always keep their hands beneath the dryer for long enough to dry their hands. Many walk away with damp hands, which act like a magnet for germs and bacteria.

Paper Towel Advantages and Disadvantages

One advantage that paper towels offer over electric hand dryers in terms of bacteria removal is that the action of rubbing your hands with paper towels can help with removing the bacteria. In addition, using a paper towel to open the handle of the bathroom door can help you from coming in contact with an area that contains a lot of bacteria.

On the other hand, paper towels are discarded into bins, so the bacteria that was wiped onto them is now collected into one area. The bacteria then multiply as people continue to toss their used towels into the bin.

It’s important to keep these facts in mind when determining what type of product you’re going to use in your facility.

If you’re looking for bathroom partitions, vanities, or lockers, click here to find out where to buy Scranton Products.