Do you remember the days when you would be washing your hands in a public bathroom and you would either reach for some paper towel or, if they were out, do the old jean dry? Then one day, behold! The push button hand dryer arrived, but not to much aplomb; the soft stream of warm air was slightly better than letting your hands air dry.
The Hand Dryer Dilemma
But, as technology does time and again, there was an upgrade:
If you’ve used one of these, you know how great it feels to just have the water on your hands disappear in moments, instead of furiously rubbing your hands together in front of a gentle puff of lukewarm air.
While advancements in technology have improved our lives greatly, are we really better off with this air dryer of the future?
The Downside of Efficient Hand Dryers
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According to one study, published in the Journal of Microbiology, that stream of air drying your hands so quickly could also be blasting germs over you and the rest of the bathroom. The study, which was led by researchers at the University of Westminster, found that the jet dryers spread 60 times more germs than conventional box air dryers and 1,300 times more germs than paper towels .
Another study conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut suggested that hand dryers can expose you to 18-60 times the amount of bacteria as other areas of the bathroom! (Get the full story here)
But these hand dryers are not the only reason germs are being spread. The real problem begins with people. Besides those that don’t wash their hands at all after using public restrooms, the rest of us aren’t washing our hands properly. According to the CDC, we need to be scrubbing our palms, back of the hands, and under our fingernails for at least 20 seconds . If you need a timer, hum ‘Happy Birthday’ twice and your hands will be good to go.
Studies conducted by the American Society of Microbiology  showed that 97% of women and 95% of men say that they wash their hands, but of those only 75% females and 58% males actually washed!
Dirty hands are the most common way that diseases like the flu spread. While it might seem harmless, by improperly washing your hands you expose yourself and others to the risk of disease.
Next time you find yourself in a public washroom and you’re wondering just how to dry your hands, maybe just stick with the old air dry method.
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