In observance of Global Handwashing Day, I am continuing my blog on hand washing...
I have to admit that sometimes I buy into urban legends, especially if they seem logical. I stopped using warm air hand dryers years ago after hearing "somewhere" that some "study" found that microbes get sucked in and blown right back out onto your hands. In public restrooms, I always opted for paper towel drying over automatic hand dryers.
Curiosity finally got the best of me, when I visited a museum last weekend and found that the bathrooms only had warm air dryers and no paper towels! After coming home, I looked up medical research papers on the use of hand dryers vs. paper towels and found that the vast majority of research has shown that there is no difference between using paper towels and warm air dryers in terms of removing bacteria! In fact, a study from the Mayo Clinic showed that there is no difference in removing bacteria from washed hands using paper towels, warm air dryers, air drying, or cloth towel dispensers.
Proponents of warm air dryers (i.e. manufacturers of warm air dryers) also claim that they are more economical, efficient, and environment-friendly (saves trees).
Am I going to switch teams and start using warm air dryers? I'm not sure yet--Habits are hard to break. But I'm going to stop denouncing warm air dryers!