When you go into a public restroom, like we often do, it is best not to think about what happened before you walked in the door. You should avoid thinking about what kind of germs are living on the counters, the walls and on the floor. Especially the floor. I think I am going to gag just thinking about it. And while we take measures to keep our hands clean and sanitary, sometimes it isn’t possible to keep all of the germs away. We could have washed our hands for 3 minutes straight, but we still need to touch the paper towels, the button to the dryer or the doorknob. Thank God for hand sanitizer, right?
Well, not exactly. A study out of Milwaukee looked at the main two chemicals that are used for antimicrobials, found in hand sanitizers and antibacterial soaps. They found that for triclosan and triclocarban to actually sterilize your hands, we would need to scrub our hands with it for a very long time. These chemicals also seep into your bloodstream, which isn't great for you. The FDA is even looking into antibacterial ingredients in hand soaps to see if they actually work better than other types of cleansers. Some experts also believe that over time, antibacterial products are making kids less resistant to germs. YOU CAN’T WIN I TELL YOU!
So, my point is this: You are bound to live a life full of germs and there is really no way around it. And you may be thinking, “You are so wrong. After I wash my hands, I leave the faucets running so I don’t touch anything and then I stick my hands into one of those awesome Dyson dryers and then I open the door with a paper towel, so you are totally wrong and I am living a 100 percent germ-free life.” Boy, do I have news for you.
It turns out that those turbo Dyson hand dryers that blow on your hands so hard that it looks like your hands are falling off could actually be doing more harm than good. They advertise themselves as a germ-free solution to drying your hands, but they actually might be spreading more germs and viruses than you could even imagine.
A year ago, in a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, researchers found that turbine hand dryers are actually virus-blowing monster machines. I don’t think that is the technical term, but you know what I mean.
They then coated the participants' gloved hands in MS2, which is a virus that kills E.Coli. When the participants washed and dried their hands, the researchers checked on the plates. If they found more dead spots, or plaques in the plates then they were able to tell that that drying method spread more of the MS2 around than there was before.
And wait! There’s more! As if that weren't gross enough already, they also found that viruses lingered in the air longer after using a jet dryer. The researchers found that there were 50 times more viral particles in the air after using the jet dryer than after using a conventional dryer or paper towel.
And you may be thinking, “But they are better for the environment because they save paper." Sure, that may be true. While they may not be great for your own personal health, they may be better for the environment's health.
“The results of this study suggest that in locations where hygiene and cross-infection considerations are paramount, such as healthcare settings and the food industry, the choice of hand-drying method should be considered carefully,” the study concluded.
Ugh, this is making me never want to go to the bathroom or eat in a restaurant ever again.
When Dyson caught wind of this research, they wrote to Uproxx, which had published an article on the matter. Their statement read: “The paper towel industry has scare mongered with this research for the past four years. It has been conducted under artificial conditions, using unrealistically high levels of virus contamination on unwashed, gloved hands.”
“The Dyson Airblade™ hand dryer dries hands hygienically with HEPA filtered air in up to 12 seconds.” The company claims that the machine has been proven to be as hygienic as paper towels through recent research.
The research that they are referring to was conducted by the University of Bradford (published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology), Institut de Recherche Microbiologique, the College of Medicine (University of Florida), and Campden BRI. These studies found that Dyson Airblade™ hand dryers are the only hand dryers that have been globally certified hygienic by NSF P335 accreditation.