While claiming to be a more sanitary option in public bathrooms, a recent study shows that drying your hands with a Dyson Airblade jet air hand dryer can spread 1,300 times more bacteria than paper towels.
Led by Professor Mark Wilcox of the University of Leeds School of Medicine, researchers conducted an experiment to compare hygiene levels of paper towels, a standard warm air hand dryer, and the Dyson Airblade jet air hand dryer. Using water contaminated with Lactobacillus, a harmless bacteria not normally found in public restrooms, the team was able to mimic bacteria levels of poorly washed hands.
After drying their hands with the three different methods, the findings showed that the Airblade spreads 60 times more germs than standard warm air hand dryers. Even more unsettling are the contamination radius statistics. The researchers found that the Airblade’s 430mph blasts were able to spread bacteria nearly ten feet across the room. To compare, standard drier and paper towel methods spread pathogens 2.5 feet and 9 inches, respectively.
To up the gross factor even further, the scientists collected nearly half of the Lactobacilli bacteria more than five minutes after hand drying but were still able to detect the Lactobacilli in the air fifteen minutes afterwards.
“Next time you dry your hands in a public toilet using an electric hand dryer, you may be spreading bacteria without knowing it. You may also be splattered with bugs from other people’s hands,” said Wilcox. “These findings are important for understanding the ways in which bacteria spread, with the potential to transmit illness and disease.”
In a similar study conducted in 2014, researchers from the University of Leeds found a large increase in airborne germ counts around jet air dryers versus paper towel dispensers. A Dyson spokesperson contested the research was “conducted under artificial conditions,” therefore rendering the results “flawed.” The claim mirrors the company’s past accusations that US paper towel corporations, including Kimberly Clark, have commissioned research studies resulting in “biased and misleading” findings.
According to Dyson, the Airblade is the most hygienic hand dryer on the market, with operating costs up to 97% less than paper towels and a drastically reduced carbon footprint. Further supporting its product, the company posted a video on YouTube earlier this year in response to claims that paper towels were more hygienic than jet air dryers.