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Sunday 24 September 2023 Dublin: 16°C
# Yuck
Turns out that hand dryers can spread bacteria
That’s according to a new study from the University of Leeds.

Updated 12.17pm

Dyson Event Launch Mark Von Holden Mark Von Holden

IF YOU USE hand dryers because you think they’re the most hygienic choice at a public toilet, you might want to read ahead…

Scientists at the University of Leeds have found that high-powered ‘jet-air’ and warm air hand dryers can actually spread bacteria in public restrooms.

The details of their study were released by the University of Leeds and show that:

Airborne germ counts were 27 times higher around jet air dryers in comparison with the air around paper towel dispensers.


However, it must be noted that the study was funded by the European Tissue Symposium.

Copy_of_infographic_for_Jadu University of Leeds University of Leeds

According to the University:

The research team, led by Professor Mark Wilcox of the School of Medicine, contaminated hands with a harmless type of bacteria called Lactobacillus, which is not normally found in public bathrooms. This was done to mimic hands that have been poorly washed.

It said that subsequent detection of the Lactobacillus in the air “proved that it must have come from the hands during drying”.

The team collected air samples around the hand dryers and from one and two metres away.

They found that during their study:

  • Air bacterial counts close to jet air dryers were 4.5 times higher than around warm air dryers
  • They were 27 times higher compared with the air when using paper towels.
  • 48% of the Lactobacilli were collected more than five minutes after drying ended
  • The Lactobacilli were still detected in the air 15 minutes after hand drying.

Professor Wilcox said:

Next time you dry your hands in a public toilet using an electric hand dryer, you may be spreading bacteria without knowing it.  You may also be splattered with bugs from other people’s hands.

Dyson’s response

In an email, Dyson said that its Airblade hand dryer “has been proven [through research] to be as hygienic as paper towels”.

Its in-house microbiologist noted that the research was commissioned by the paper towel industry.

They have tested glove covered hands, which have been contaminated with unrealistically high levels of bacteria, and not washed. The Dyson Airblade hand dryer is the fastest, most hygienic way to dry hands and it produces up to 71 per cent less CO2 than paper towels. It can dry 18 pairs of hands for the price of a single paper towel.

Read: Deadly bacteria normally found in toilets was discovered in the microwave of these students>

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