We wash our hands after we do things involving dirt or grime, even ordinary food or kitchen grease, because it’s the best way to guard against bacteria and other contaminants that could harm us if we don’t get rid of them. This includes doing so after using the bathroom. When we’re dealing with bodily waste, it seems obvious there could be some things that need to be washed off ourselves when we’re done with the toilet. But public bathrooms can make it tough to be sure you’re actually getting the benefit of hand washing. And public air powered hand drying machines make it harder still.
For a long time, it’s been believed the hot air blowers are a more sanitary way to dry your hands after washing them than having to touch a paper towel. One that’s been in the bathroom, exposed to the air. But new research is showing that, odds are, the dryer machines are doing more than just evaporating water from our skin when we hit that button. They’re spreading the bathroom bacteria all around, and making it much less likely that bacteria won’t land on us and leave the bathroom with us. Bathrooms that don’t include the hand dryers tend to have no strong air currents, and that sharply reduces the movement of the air as a transmission vector for the bacteria we’re trying to keep washed away.
When you wash up, you want to be left clean. Air dryers are throwing icky bits right back on you. #HealthStatus
- 1Paper towels are cleaner than hot air dryers. Following with hand sanitizer was best practice.
- 2Adding HEPA filters helped, but bacteria was still blown onto hands.
- 3No proof that air dryers led to disease, even though fecal germs were detected.
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