Are Hand Dryers as Clean as Everyone Thinks?

No one likes public toilets, especially in those situations when you’re using it after someone else and the seat is still warm. They’re often associated with unhygienic places, being dirty, smelly, and a breeding ground for diseases. Unless you’re using it in a five-star hotel or a high-class venue, you probably do your business and leave as quickly as possible.

Most people are glad when they see a hand dryer as they don’t have to touch one of those icky cloth towels you access via a rotary dispenser. You just blow your hands dry with hot air and move on with your life.

But, what if you found out these hand dryers might not be as hygienic as you think? Carry on reading to understand more about the common issues and if you really need to worry about it.

1. Hand Dryers Spread Bacterial Spores

A recent study by the University of Connecticut School of Medicine investigated 36 men’s and women’s toilets and concluded that bathroom hand dryers were blowing bacterial spores all over the place. They exposed test plates under the hand dryers for 30 seconds, and the results were not promising — they found as many as 60 bacterial colonies on each plate.

The researchers then decided to find the source of the bacterial growth and they first assumed it was inside the hand dryers. As it turns out, they collected swabs from the inside of the dryers, and although it wasn’t 100 percent clean, it wasn’t enough bacterial buildup to account for the spores in the airflow. The final conclusion was that the dryers were all alright, but the air inside the toilets was harboring the nasty bacteria, and the airflow was spreading them around, sometimes throughout the building as well.

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2. Toilets Harbor Several Types of Microbes

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that public toilets are, indeed, a festering ground of bacteria. Researchers from the University of Colorado studied twelve public bathrooms and found thousands of species of bacteria in each of them. The unfortunate postdoc students took swabs from the toilet seats, soap dispensers, flush handles, the floor, and many more, and went back to the lab to analyze the results.

The bacteria species were mainly composed of three groups: shoe bacteria, skin bacteria, and gut bacteria. Skin bacteria were found on door handles and any other surfaces that are commonly touched by hands; gut bacteria (or fecal bacteria) were found on the toilet seats and flush handles; and shoe bacteria on the floor, tiles, and sometimes on toilet flush handles as people flush with their feet. However, gladly no nasty bacteria that causes diseases such as cholera or typhoid were found in the toilets.

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