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Fact or Myth: Hand Dryers Spread Germs

David Fisher, Engineering Manager

We’ve all read it somewhere: hand dryers spread germs. These click-bait headlines can cause the real harm. It puts hygienic best practices and solutions, like hand dryers, into question when many times they are the answer.

Here’s the real deal. Microbes exist everywhere, from door handles to cell phones to unused paper towels. If we want to stop the spread of germs, it starts with proper handwashing steps. First, we all must scrub with soap for 20 seconds. Next, we need to completely dry our hands. These two go hand in hand when it comes to hygiene.

Chances are you still want more facts. We’ve turned to science to stop germs and misinformation from spreading with this breakdown.  

Wash Away the Doubt and Dry with Confidence

FACT 1:  Bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms circulate in restrooms, regardless of the hand drying option. Air and contact surfaces encounter microorganisms on a regular basis. It’s the nature of the environment and rotating door of people. 

FACT 2:  Studies that report conclusions about hand dryers blowing germs around always rely on artificial test conditions, which can be skewed. Typically, bacteria are planted on a glove and placed underneath a hand dryer’s moving airstream. The problem is that any sort of air causes particle movement, which happens throughout a restroom in other ways. Particles can move from an HVAC or ventilation system or our own breath.

FACT 3: The same studies also imply a connection between these air particles and hygiene. Yet there is zero evidence to back this hypothesis.

FACT 4: According to a Deb Group blog post, hand dryers rank significantly low in terms of germs and bacteria accumulation. In fact, contact surfaces or items like waste bins, where paper towels are discarded, carry double the count as hand dryers, if not more.

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FACT 6:  Another lesser-known fact? Some of these one-sided studies are sponsored by the paper towel industry. Perhaps this biased approach is because hand dryers blow paper towels away in cost and environmental benefits. Hand dryers save 90 – 99% in costs versus paper towel use.

FACT 7:  Beyond best practices for users, regular maintenance makes hand dryers an excellent solution for providing hygienic hand drying. New high-speed hand dryers feature touch-free operation to reduce germ transference from the very start. HEPA filtration purifies the air by capturing 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns or larger (particles, including bacteria and viruses). At the same time, antimicrobial additives prevent bacteria, mold, and mildew from inhabiting the dryer’s surfaces.

FACT 8:  Some of the most respected sources for health-related information, the Mayo Clinic, and the World Health Organization recognize hand dryers as a solution for promoting hygiene and human health. World Dryer touch-free hand dryers allow users to dry their hands entirely without long waits.

Most importantly, no matter your drying preference, do not use your clothing to dry your hands. Improper washing and drying of hands represent a public health risk. Together, we can all have a hand in staying informed and healthy.