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Are Air Hand Dryers Unsafe?

Apr 27, 2011

I recently visited a public restroom at a gas station, and was fine with the cleanliness and available supplies, until I was done washing my hands.

I was faced with this as my only hand drying option:

Place hands in dryer, it stated simply. That’s an awful idea, I thought to myself. Knowing that hand dryers leave bacteria on hands, I was shocked to see that I had no paper towel option for hand drying. Automatic air hand dryers are not safe usually because of lack of regular cleaning maintenance. This particular air hand dryer looked even more menacing because it was an enclosed space that the air was being pumped into and back up onto hands. Who knows what was on the surface of this hand drying cavern of doom!

So, I did what any informed person would do, I shook my hands as dry as possible and then wiped them on my clothes! I am not usually a germaphobe, considering I dared even to use a public restroom at all. But with air hand dryers leaving as much as 254% bacteria on hands, I figured I might as well not wash them at all and roll around on the floor instead.

What do you do when faced with no hand drying option except an automatic air hand dryer?

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32 Responses to “Are Air Hand Dryers Unsafe?”

  1. Rug Cleaning Santa Monica - April 28th, 2011 at 11:33 am

    First I have to say that the gas station bathroom you went to, seems like the cleanest I’ve seen. I mean, look at the sink?
    Anyways, back to the subject. I always figured that automatic dryers were eco-friendly because they require the production of paper towels, but I don’t know about the labeled caption.
    I too shake off the water and grab some toilet paper to open the bathroom door. Talk about a catch 22.

  2. Title Loans - April 28th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I’m definitely a clothes wiper. I almost feel that in an instance like that, you’re better off not washing your hands in the first place! I always try to avoid air dryers, unless they’re the Dyson ones that newer facilities have.

  3. Molly - April 29th, 2011 at 5:22 am

    Maybe some hand sanitizer would have helped too!

  4. Bidet Seat - May 2nd, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Sanitizers and tissue papers are the best for cleaning and hand drying. But the restroom of the gas staion is very neat.

  5. Rug Appraisal Los Angeles - May 3rd, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    This is the first that I’ve heard that electronic dryers are bad! I can see how this dryer would cause more bacteria by placing your hands on the surface, but even with the stand alone dryers? Is it better to just use hand sanitizer from now on?

  6. Molly - May 4th, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Depends on how often the hand dryer is cleaned and maintained. Hand sanitizer is always an option. Carry it with you for emergencies like these!

  7. ljc - May 6th, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I never use air dryers – they take too long and use unnecessary energy. The craziest thing I ever saw was at Mesa Verde National Park. The women were literally in line to use the hand dryer – it was BLAZING hot in the rest room and the humidity was dry, dry, DRY…. My hands were dry before I even reached the door to get out… and yet women were IN LINE to use the hot hand dryer! Creatures of habit.

  8. ted - May 7th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I never really thought about it up until now…just used the hand dryers! Hmmm….

  9. Molly - May 9th, 2011 at 10:11 am

    So true! That’s a funny story, thanks for sharing!

  10. Wes@ Car Lease Return Los Angeles - May 17th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    I must say that this is a very clean public restroom, at least to the naked eye. However, looking at that hand dryer, I probably wouldn’t put my hands under that either. What about these new and improved hand dryers you in public restrooms now a days, do you think they properly clean and maintain those or should I stick to paper towels?

  11. Xenorol Conveyor - May 17th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    I thought hand dryers were more sanitary and eco-friendly than using paper towels. Guess not. This kind of grossed me out. 254%? Yuck.

  12. Molly - May 18th, 2011 at 5:18 am

    Paper towels are the safest bet, but if you only have a hand dryer available, try using hand sanitizer afterwards!

  13. Teeth Cleaning West Hollywood - May 27th, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Hand sanitizer really is a life-saver when it comes to public restrooms. I try to always carry a pocket-sized one with me at all times. You never know what you’re going to run into!

  14. BJJ Santa Monica - June 8th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    This is new news to me. I always thought that hand dryers were cleaner and eco-friendlier than paper towels. Guess it’s time to stock up on the hand sanitizers!

  15. Tom - July 15th, 2011 at 6:06 am

    I can’t stand air dryers, and as for that new “Air Blade” thing?
    Bah! What a horrid idea..

    I recently created my own blog, and posted about chosing one Janitorial product or another.
    It is basically me asking for some help, as I am new to running the business.
    Any help or advice would be much appreciated!


    – Tom

  16. Walking Tours Rome - July 22nd, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Wow- I had no idea that air dryers left so much bacteria on the hands… Aren’t they supposed to do the exact opposite? I will be sticking to paper towels from now on!!


  17. Therapist New York - July 29th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Oh, wow. I never even thought about that. Really good to know. I thought I was helping the environment out by using the dryers but I guess it’s not worth it… I’m thinking of just air drying my hands from now on.

  18. Molly - July 30th, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Using paper towels to dry your hands does help to remove bacteria from your hands. Wet hands can pick up bacteria easier from surfaces, so in a pinch, air drying is healthier, but try to get them dry fast!

  19. James Davis - August 11th, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Paper Towels are the cost effective way to go about drying your hands, well in a workplace anyway..obviously at home you have a towel on the rail…but even a towel you gotta change every few days so it doesnt smell.

  20. Billy Dean - August 11th, 2011 at 5:21 am

    Hand dryers all day!!! easiest and most hygenic way to dry hands in my mind…

  21. Rosie - September 19th, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    I love hand dryers. They really keep public bathrooms clean of all the paper waste messes. Most people cant be trusted to keep public places clean.


  22. Air Purifiers - September 27th, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    I have heard so much controversy with paper towels vs hand dryers. I am undecided on the issue.

  23. Cheap Furniture Glendale - September 29th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I prefer paper towels… I know air dryers are better for the environment, but they just never get my hands dry enough and I feel like they’re not as sanitary as they seem either!!

  24. penginapan murah di jakarta - October 3rd, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    i hope this be usefull

  25. SEO Los Angeles - November 4th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I have heard so much controversy on the paper towels vs the dryer.

  26. Goradde - November 19th, 2011 at 6:18 am

    really? i actually prefer air dryers than tissues. i like the sensation while air drying. 😀

  27. Molly - November 21st, 2011 at 6:12 am

    That’s true, sometimes it is nice to have warm air, especially when it’s cold outside.

  28. Los Angeles SEO - November 22nd, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I prefer the hand dryer because I know that it is not using trees.

  29. Saw Blade - January 6th, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Hand dryers leave bacteria on hands!!! Horror o_O

  30. Eco Friendly - January 28th, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    I was surprised to read about air hand dryers leaving as much as 254% bacteria on hands, so I went back to the original post that you linked to in the article. Now I’m really undecided on the air dryer/paper towel controversy. I thought the air dryers were both more eco friendly and at least as sanitary as paper towels.
    It looks like the only advantage to air dryers in restrooms is there’s no paper towel mess all over the place.

  31. Mohammad Afnan - April 26th, 2012 at 3:33 am

    great useful article.looking for some more from you.

  32. Ivan Monev - May 5th, 2013 at 9:14 am

    The easiest and most hygenic way to dry hands is to use paper handtowels.
    The hand dryers are just to have something in the washroom.
    May be the best choise is to have paper handtowels and hand dryers in the washroom.

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