There are a lot of internet-based rumors that claim hand dryers spread germs, sometimes even more germs than paper towels. But are these rumors true, or is there something else going on here?
First thing's first: we need to make it clear that germs, also called microbes, exist everywhere. You can't get away from them. The only way to prevent harmful germs from spreading is to wash your hands for 20 seconds and then completely dry them with either a paper towel or a hand dryer. Both thorough washing AND thorough drying make up good hygiene.
Even when we wash and dry our hands, though, we can't escape the bacteria in public restrooms. Hand dryers do nothing more than circulate air that's already circulating. Between the circulating air, skin-to-surface contact, and the number of people coming in and out of especially high-traffic areas, germs are spreading whether we like it or not.
Not all hand dryers are created equally, though. While it's true that older hand dryer models probably did a good job of spreading germs, newer models, especially from brands trying to be socially responsible, feature HEPA filters that purify the air coming out of the hand dryer. There's no fear of bacterial buildup being circulated through the air because the air coming out of the dryer eliminates 99.9% of all germs.
The same brands that work to keep users safe and healthy also build their hand dryers out of environmentally conscious materials! These hand dryers are not only more hygienic than paper towels, but also better for the environment. They also last for years, which keeps waste to a minimum. On the other hand, about 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used every single year, and the number just keeps growing.
When you hear that hand dryers only spread germs, make sure you check and see who the source of information is. Often, the paper towel industry puts forth skewed research results because they don't want to go out of business. Hand dryers are not less hygienic than any other restroom hand-drying method, so don't stop using them. Remember, hand drying is just as important as thorough hand washing when it comes to stopping the spread of germs.