Hand towel or hand air dryer? Finally, an answer

Don't front like you haven't thought about it

Christopher Hooton
Friday 13 February 2015 16:34

Ever finished washing your hands and thought, 'Hmm, I wonder what's more hygienic, using the warm air dryer or the towel?' and then thought 'Hmm I really need to start having more interesting thoughts'? Well, you're not alone!

Researchers tested the amount of bacteria left on the skin after hands were dried using both methods, and the results might surprise you.

Washing hands and using paper towels or continuous-loop cotton towels reduced the bacterial count by 45-60 per cent, while using a warm air dryer in fact increased the bacterial count by an average of 255 per cent.

"It turned out the bacteria were already inside the warm air dryers thanks to the moist environment," Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki (yes, that's a real doctor) wrote in his book Curious and Curiouser.

A stock image guy having a great time near a hand dryer (Picture: Getty)

"Every single warm air dryer had high bacterial counts on the air inlet, while 97 per cent had them on the outlet nozzle surface, too."

Air-based dryers in fact spread bacteria and other germs in tiny droplets, like a really disgusting aerosol.

Kruszelnicki notes that our bodies are resilient enough to keep most of these bacteria at bay, but suggests you also go for towels (preferably recyclable) over driers anyway as they dry your hands quicker and give the friction needed to shift bacteria that you don't get from a pathetic gust of air.

He said that jet air dryers e.g the Dyson Airblade do about as good a job as towels, and "boy are they fun to use, your skin goes all funny!" (he didn't say that bit).

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