Drying your hands in a public restroom usually comes down to one of three options: good old fashioned paper towels, hand dryers and those super quick, no-touch Dyson Airblade dryers. The latter option always seems best, as it enables you to avoid touching a contaminated surface and get out of that germ factory unscathed. Not so says a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology. According to the research by the University of Westminster in London, jet air dryers, like the Dyson Airblade, can spread up to 1,300 times more germs than paper towels and 60 times more germs than standard hand-dryers.
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The researchers conducted an experiment that mimicked the bacteria level in unwashed hands. Using water contaminated with Lactobacillus, harmless bacteria not usually found in public restrooms, they were able to test the three common methods of hand drying. According to their findings, the 430mph blasts of air generated by dryers like the Dyson Airblade can catapult germs and viruses across the room as far as 10 feet. Just when you thought washing your hands was the most sanitary way to fight contamination, the study also found that the these dryers can spread 20 times as many viruses as a standard dryer or 190 times as many as a paper towel.
Dyson has not released a statement about this study, but they did create a video in February titled “Paper’s Dirty Little Secret” after a study in 2014 by the University of Leeds released similar findings. The company dismissed the earlier study because it was funded by the European Tissue Symposium. A spokesman for Dyson said at the time, “This research was commissioned by the paper towel industry and it’s flawed.” Now that a second study confirms those initial findings, it’s harder to ignore the data. As unsanitary as it sounds, drying your hands with your shirt might actually be your best option.
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