Home » Air-drying Hand Dryers: Sometimes We’re Just Blowing Germs

Air-drying Hand Dryers: Sometimes We’re Just Blowing Germs

by Rocco Castellano

You go to the gym, restaurant, local coffee shop, department store, or bar, and you have to use the restroom. Not a big deal. Everyone has used a public toilet at one time or another. You do your business, wash your hands, and there you have it—the hand drying dilemma. Now, all you tree-hugging, I’m not a tree killer, mammy pambys out there, do not get your panties in a bunch. This is going to shock you. Air-drying hand dryers are now known to spew germs and cause the spread of disease. How about that? The very thing you thought would help save trees and cut down on the spreading of germs – spread germs.


Acceptable Way to Wash Your Hands

You don’t need to be an electrical engineer or an epidemiologist to see how this could happen in every bathroom, yep, even the transgender ones. The average person, male, female, or whatever you identify with, doesn’t wash their hands adequately after holding their junk or wiping. The acceptable way to wash your hands is to squirt soap, lather up between your fingers, over your hands for 20 seconds, and rinse with warm water. Have you ever timed some people in the restroom? Well, mentally, not that I want you to spend your Saturdays with a stopwatch at a Target bathroom. It’s a little crazy to see someone taking a piss for what seems like an hour; you know they splashed themselves at least three or four times, zipped up, and walked over to the sink to wash their hands. Or at least, supposedly. That’s not what usually happens. Basically, they piss on their hands, squirt a pea-size portion of soap, run some water over it and turn around to blow all that germy, urine-soaked soap all over the air and within 10 feet radius of the blower.

Well, my little grasshoppers, your quest for being “green” has placed us in a very “unclean” situation. We have become a nation obsessed with being environmentally conscious and believing that the more than 3000 paper towels we each use per year contribute to 3000 tons of paper towel waste, hindering our justification for their use after thorough hand washing. Here are the facts about these well-intentioned stupid inventions.


Warm Air and the High Speed

The warm air and the high speed, the very components that supposedly make this a good idea, are what researchers from The University of Leeds found out was its primary issue in spreading disease. These brilliant researchers, led by Mark Wilcox, covered participants’ hands with lactobacillus, a harmless bacteria which created a scenario of inadequately washed hands. They then used different drying methods. After the participants dried their hands with warm air dryers, High-speed dryers, and paper towels, they took 120 air samples. Yep, because obviously, 100 wasn’t enough.

It was astounding and somewhat horrifying as they tallied the results – the number of bacteria in the air near the high-powered air-drying hand dryers was to four and a half times that of the warm air-drying hand dryers. This is a little more insane than I want to write, but the air around the warm air dryers was 27 times more populated with bacteria than around the paper towel dispenser.


Air-drying Hand Dryers Math

So if you can do a little math, you’ll see that the high-powered Air-drying hand dryers spewed 121.5 times more bacteria than paper towel dispensers. 121.5 times!!!! Are you kidding me? So, because Mr. Wilcox and his fellow researchers had a flair for the dramatic, they decided to do a little visual demonstration. Participants covered their hands in paint and placed their hands under the dryers, and the paint-splattered, as you could have guessed. What concerned the researchers and me was that many bacteria stayed in the air for quite a long time. 48% of the bacteria floated around for five minutes. Another stunning part of the experiment was that 15 minutes later, traces of airborne bacteria lurched, waiting to grab hold of something or somebody. Fifteen minutes later, damn.

So what do we do? Kill a bunch of trees to wash and dry our hands adequately and not spread disease? Do what every guy that has his “man card” has done. Wash his hands and wipe them on his pants or keep using high-powered air dryers as a tool for population control.

It’s a crazy dilemma that we’ve got ourselves into, trying to be green and causing more problems. I say we all start wearing diapers and let the paper towel dispensers and air dryers fight it out for themselves. Then stores like Target can find a good use for those sanitizing stands all over their stores.

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