Are Hand Dryers Hygienic? Myths & Importance Of Hand Dryers

Pebble Hand Dryer in public bathroom

Updated on September 18, 2023

We’ve all seen it somewhere: hand dryers spread germs. Click-bait headlines, viral TikToks, and other popular content may have left you asking yourself “are hand dryers sanitary?”

The next time you walk into your workplace washroom or school bathroom you might look at the air hand dryer fixed to the wall with fear.

All this viral content going around that talks about how unsanitary are hand dryers have to be based on something, right?

Well, some if it could be true but perhaps some of that information has been taken out of context. Or maybe it’s all true and backed by science.

When it comes to hygienic best practices we want everyone to be in-the-know, which is why in this article we will explore whether air hand dryers are sanitary by looking at all the data we can find.

Key Takeaways:

  1. The Hand Dryer Debate: Viral content and studies have presented varying views on the hygiene of hand dryers. It’s essential to differentiate between myths and facts to make informed decisions.
  2. Importance of Hand Drying: Wet hands can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Effective hand drying is as crucial as the washing process itself in preventing bacterial spread.
  3. Studies on Hand Dryers: Not all hand dryers are created equal. While some powerful hand dryers may spread germs, others, especially modern models, are designed to be more hygienic.
  4. Paper Towels vs. Hand Dryers: The choice between these two methods is not just about hygiene but also environmental impact. While paper towels can be effective in drying hands, their production and disposal have environmental implications.
  5. The Pebble+ Revolution: The Pebble+ by Citron Hygiene is a game-changer in the world of hand dryers. With advanced technology that removes 99.9% of bacteria from the air, it stands as a testament to how innovation can transform hand hygiene.
  6. Environmental and Cost Implications: Beyond hygiene, the choice of hand drying method can have financial and environmental consequences. Tools like the hand drying cost savings calculator can help businesses make informed decisions.
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Are hand dryers sanitary?

Are hand dryers sanitary? Before we answer the question, maybe we need to look at whether it’s the right question to ask.

The setting of an air hand dryer and the model may impact how we would respond to the question.

So, let’s take a look at what the data has to say.

One study from the Journal of Applied Microbiology found that a very powerful hand dryer can spread a virus up to one and a half meters or almost five feet across the room.

These more powerful hand dryers may be less sanitary than lower powered alternatives as they were found to spread 60 times more germs into the air.

Another more recent study from the University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac University supports these findings. It shows that conventional air hand dryers may act like “bacterial bombs”, and can spread bacteria through the bathroom air directly onto your hands.

Should these studies concern you? Of course, hand hygiene is important and you want to make sure that you are washing and drying your hands in a sanitary way.

But do the studies give a black-and-white answer to whether or not hand dryers are sanitary? No.

Certain elements of how the studies were conducted also need to be considered. You must also think about things such as the overall design of the dryer, how powerful it is and where it is located.

Not only that, but you must also think about how the sinks, floor, and other surfaces in a washroom can all also be covered in bacteria, according to the research published in the Journal of Hospital Infection. If you touch those surfaces you may increase your risk of becoming infected or spreading infection.

So while some hand dryers may be shown to spread germs, it is also important to remember that hand dryers come in many different designs, utilize different technology, and are in different environments. The studies conducted only focus on one specific hand dryer.

Want to learn more about the types of commercial hand dryers and what is right for your business? Check out our ultimate guide. 

Are Hand Dryers Hygienic? Myths & Importance Of Hand Dryers

Fact or Myth: Hand Dryers Spread Germs

Lets jump into more detail and try to bust the myth that hand dryers spread germs.

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One study from Metlam shows that in comparison to other surfaces, hand dryers rank significantly low in terms of germs and bacteria accumulation. In fact, surfaces such as waste bins, where paper towels are discarded, can have around double the amount of bacteria as hand dryers.

Chart showing germs in public bathrooms

Source: Metlam

Not only this, but some of the most respected sources for health-related information, such as the Mayo Clinic, and the World Health Organization recognize hand dryers as a good solution for hand hygiene and health.

So technically, hand dryers spread germs, but the extent to which they do that will depend on the model. Those with lower power will spread fewer germs and some of the most modern and well-designed ones, not only, spread fewer germs but they can even remove the bacteria in the air (we’ll get to this in a bit).

Why is drying your hands important? 

Before we jump into the magic of dryers that remove bacteria, let’s look at why you should be concerned with hand drying at all. Washing your hands is the important part, right? You use soap and water, you get all that bacteria off. Can it really matter that much if you dry them or not?

Well, the research suggests yes. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, MD, a physician, and health expert says that “After washing your hands, it is so crucial that you dry your hands thoroughly.”

This is because wet hands make it easier to pick up or transfer germs. If you don’t dry your hands thoroughly, then you could pick up germs or bacteria from other surfaces you touch, thus spreading your contaminated hands onto other surfaces touched thereafter.

So, there are some hand drying solutions that are better than others because they minimize the spread of bacteria more effectively. However, dry hands are better than wet hands so it’s advisable to use the hand drying option that is in the bathroom you use.

If you have the choice between a hand dryer vs paper towel, find out which one is more sanitary in THIS blog. 

But if you had a choice of any hand dryer available right now, you might want to consider putting Pebble+ at the top of your list.

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Check out our range of commercial hand drying solutions below –

Pebble Plus Hand Dryer

Meet the hand dryer that removes bacteria in the air

The Pebble+ is a hand dryer that removes bacteria in the air. With an advanced hygiene protocol to sterilize the air, the Pebble+ is energy-efficient, good for the planet, and developed with best-in-class engineering. Most importantly, it’s one of the most sanitary methods available for hand drying.

Local air sterilization and UV-C disinfection on the dryer work to remove 99.9% of bacteria. Not only is it good for your hand hygiene but it’s also good for the planet and your business’s bottom line. It has a low environmental impact and produces 90% less CO2 compared to other conventional dryers, offering a paperless, high-efficiency, sustainable solution.

To get a bit technical, it works to sterilize the air with an intelligent H13 filter and is TUV SUD-certified for the removal of bacteria and viruses from the air around it.

Discover more about the science and technology that the Pebble+ uses:

If you want some of these dryers in your workplace or school bathroom, Pebble+ are now exclusively available through Citron Hygiene in a first-of-its-kind full-service rental program where businesses can avail of their hand dryers for a monthly fee without a significant upfront capital outlay.

Calculate your cost savings and impact to the environment

See how much money you could be saving in your washroom by switching from Paper Towels to the Pebble+ Hand Dryer.

Take two minutes to try our hand drying cost savings calculator to see how much you can save in expenses and annual carbon emissions.

Cost savings calculator for hand drying with the Pebble+ hand dryer

Find out how we can elevate your washroom experience today.