Blowing Hot Air? The Truth About Hand Dryer Hygiene

Hot air hand dryers may seem like a relatively new arrival to the world, but they’ve actually been around for decades. In fact, one George Clemens is credited with investing the very first electric dryer as far back as 1948, though admittedly in those days they weren’t quite as effective or widely available as they are right now. Today, they’re seen in literally millions of offices and commercial buildings the world over – they’ve become something of a fundamental essential for tens of millions of people.

We know they’re effective, we know they save a small fortune in running costs and we also know that in terms of eco-friendliness, saving millions of tons of paper towel waste each year can’t be a bad thing. However, even today there’s still raging debate as to whether or not hand dryers are in fact sanitary enough to replace hand towels. Despite having never been linked with any adverse effects on anyone anywhere ever, it was theorised that hot air dryers were in fact counterproductive when it came to ridding the hands of germs and bacteria. Whether true or not, the theory was taken as gospel by millions and the notion that hot air dryers are less-than hygienic became widely-believed all over the world.

Now, common sense would dictate that as millions of the things are used every second of every day, they must be doing a good enough job, right? Well, that might be the case but there are still those who fight tooth and nail for the argument that these kinds of dryers are bad news, but what’s the truth in a factual/scientific sense?

The Truth Behind the Theory

There’s only ever been one study or published paper that poured cold water on the idea of hot air dryers being hygienic. It was back in 1993 that a scientist claimed to have discovered evidence that when a dryer it used, the user’s hands are in fact blasted with germs and bacteria to such an extent than they end up less sanitary than they were before. This was of course more than enough to generate scare stories all over the world and the public responding as it often does, the headlines were believed without any kind of doubt or questioning.

However, there wasn’t a single health or medical review that was willing to recognise the study as in any way fair or accurate in its findings – most wholly opposed everything it stood for. The reason being that even without any kind of scientific training or knowledge, there are two obvious and glaring reasons why the theory of germ-blasting doesn’t make any sense. Not only is the interior of a hand dryer constantly at too high of a temperature to harbour germ growth, but it’s also bone dry. And of course, the fast-blowing are on a constant basis also makes it a wholly implausible habitat for bacteria growth. When this latter theory was put to the test, it was found that germ and bacteria content in a hand drier tends to be up to 400% lower than that of the rest of the room’s surfaces.

New Technology, New Standards

Now, it may be fair to say that when you’re looking at a hand dryer from 30 years ago that blows out about as much air as an asthmatic mouse, it’s not going to do the best job in getting your hands dry and sanitary. Likewise, if the dryer is poor quality and generates neither a great deal of heat nor a powerful blast of air, the above-mentioned theory with regard to germ and bacteria-reduction is once again rendered null and void. As such, it’s generally a case of having to factor the quality and age of the unit into the argument in order to weigh up how effective in a sanitary sense it is likely to be.

These days, the very best hand dryers on the market feature extremely efficient and powerful air heaters, while at the same time blasting out the air itself with pretty incredible force. As such, the potential for such heaters to be able to harbour bacteria is largely non-existent and thus the sanitary drying effect they deliver cannot be called into question. A controversial subject it may be, but it’s one that any leading brand on the market will not shy away from and will be happy to offer advice in accordance with.

As is the case with most things, the performance you can expect will be a direct reflection of the quality of the brand behind it – choosing proactively therefore being crucial.