While using a public restroom is less than ideal in most circumstances, finding a nice-looking bathroom with a fancy jet air hand dryer can sometimes make the experience feel slightly less disgusting. However, new research suggests that drying your hands in restrooms actually helps to spread germs, and worse yet, that popular dryers like the Dyson Airblade basically spray germs all over the place. Wonderful.
In a study recently published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, scientists at the University of Westminster claim that jet air dryers spread germs 60 times more than ordinary hand dryers and as much as 1,300 times more than paper towels. Although this doesn't necessarily mean the dryers are blowing a stream of germs directly onto your hands, previous studies have suggested the amount of germs in the air is 27 times higher around such machines than it is around paper towel dispensers, according to a report by The Telegraph.
Specifically, the Westminster researchers coated their hands with a harmless virus, set a target nearby, then tested the three separate hand-drying methods -- paper towels, regular hand dryers, and jet air dryers -- to see how far each of them might spread the virus in the room. They found that levels of the virus were barely noticeable when paper towels were used, but that standard air dryers spread the virus more than two feet while the jet air dryers air blasts sprayed the virus about nine feet away, per the report. Really makes you hope people are actually washing all the germs off their hands before they dry them now, right?