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Why You Should Beware Hand Dryers

You may have noticed that hand dryers are appearing more and more in public restrooms. But beyond the frustration of trying to use them, are they really as hygienic as they purport?

Concern about the environment and the toll of paper towels has led many venues to explore new options for drying patrons’ hands. It also means that paper towels don’t get flushed and clog toilets or clutter up the floor. But as far as actual benefits go, are hand dryers really a good idea?

In short, no. If you can avoid using a hand dryer, do so. Limit yourself to one paper towel and you won’t have to feel guilty. Or maybe carry around your own multiuse towel. But using a hand dryer is not really a good idea.

Back in the day, using a hand dryer was annoying because you had to find a way to press the button with slippery, wet hands. And then the air flow was never strong enough to do much of anything. The updated versions of hand dryers tend to have a much stronger air flow, which visibly blows your skin around. But this doesn’t mean that they are any better.

The thing about hand dryers is that they don’t dry so much as blow. This means that they blow water off hands into tiny cesspools of bacteria all over public restrooms. Some of these pools are visible — including what collects on the floor as patrons stand and drip dry. Other water is sprayed willy-nilly onto the walls and counters and then left there to collect bacteria.

Studies like this have shown that paper towels are the most effective way to dry hands and avoid germs — especially the harmful ones that can lead to sickness. So wash your hands — with soap and water and then dry with a paper towel and maybe the world will be a little less germy.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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