Using a hand dryer is usually considered to be the cleanest stage when using a public bathroom.
After you washed your hands, and want to dry them, you start looking for the machine. You don’t have to touch it to use it, so you assume that is safe and clean and you have left all of those bathroom germs behind.
Sadly, a new study tells us this isn’t so.
The truth is hand dryers are spreading something disgusting on your hands right after you’ve washed them: fecal particles.
The work , published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, studied three separate bathrooms in the University of Connecticut.
Scientists set off hand dryers in the bathrooms and installed a plate just beneath them for 30 seconds.
After testing the plates, they showed between 18 and 30 colonies of bacteria on them.
How do fecal particles end up in a hand dryer?
Basically, in the moment you flush a toilet with its lid off, water sends fecal particles whizzing through the air.
Hand dryers suck the bad particles, warm them up, and spit them on your hands.
“These results indicate that many kinds of bacteria, including potential pathogens and spores, can be deposited on hands exposed to bathroom hand dryers, and that spores could be dispersed throughout buildings and deposited on hands by hand dryers,” the study concluded.
To avoid the particles and bacteria, the researchers suggested fitting hand dryers with HEPA filters, which could reduce bacterial deposition fourfold, or switching to paper towels — but this solution isn’t green and environmentally friendly.
Until those filters are fitted, you might prefer to drip-dry.