When given a choice between using paper towels or air dryers after washing their hands, people might be better off using paper towels. The evidence isn't conclusive, but using paper towels might be more sanitary than using jet air dryers. Some experts say that the dryers release bacteria-laden air, and that people who use the dryers are simply getting a coating of microbes on their clean hands. Others say that an air dryer's effectiveness depends on the length of time that a person holds his or her hands under its nozzle. A minute or more might be necessary to dry and sanitize the hands.
More about hand washing and drying:
- Some public health experts believe that efforts to teach people to wash their hands properly should include training in effectively drying their hands as well.
- One problem with air dryers is that people typically rub their hands together under the hot air stream. This can cause additional bacteria to escape from the skin's pores and contaminate the hands.
- Neither method of hand drying has any impact on the many people who simply don't wash up after using the toilet. According to one study, 30% of people who used the restrooms in a New York airport did not wash their hands.