The 'disgusting truth about jet air dryers'

Research shows jet air dryers increase the prevalence of bacteria on hands compared to hands dried with paper towels

Jet air dryers were found to spread pathogens. Paper towels, in turn, help to reduce the prevalence of potentially-harmful bugs

New research has revealed that modern jet air hand dryers increase the prevalence of bacteria on hands compared to traditional paper towels.

With nearly 95% of adults not washing long enough to thoroughly clean bacteria and viruses from their hands; the research by Kimberly-Clark Professional found that, as well as increasing the chance of catching a potentially-harmful bug, jet air dryers also blow water droplets that can contain bacteria and viruses into the surrounding environment, increasing the potential spread of pathogens.

These devices are often depicted as a compact, faster and more-hygienic way to dry your hands. But, says the research, some surfaces of jet air dryers can harbour up to 48 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.

Independent scientific studies have found that:

  • Jet air dryers can increase the bacteria on fingers by up to 42%
  • When drying hands with a jet air dryer, water droplets that could contain bacteria and viruses are blown into the air, travelling as far as 2m (6.5ft) and lingering in the air for up to 15 minutes
  • 70% of the viruses spread by jet air dryers land at the height of a child’s face
  • Using a jet air dryer dispersed 1,300 times more viruses than drying with paper towels

Independent studies have also found that paper towels can help to reduce the spread of pathogens, particularly in vulnerbale settings such as hospitals

And the research showed that drying with paper towels reduced bacteria on fingers by up to 77%.

An article published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings concluded that paper towels are the best hand-drying option in locations where ‘hygiene is paramount’, as in hospital settings.

It was found that the rubbing process of paper towels physically removes bacteria along with moisture.

And single-use paper towels are recommended as the hand drying method by the World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care.

When faced with a choice of drying methods, 90% of people showed a behavioural preference for paper towels over jet air dryers in the washroom.