The Truth About Hand Dryers

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You find them in bathrooms everywhere. Let's get to the truth about hand dryers.

Can hand dryers in public bathrooms spread diseases? That's unclear. It may be possible for drivers to blow disease-carrying organisms onto your washed hands. But more research is needed. You probably don't need to worry if you're healthy and use clean bathrooms. But if your immune system is weak, ask your doctor if you should avoid public restrooms.

Can dryers spread bacteria? Yes. Some research shows that dryers can blast microscopic organisms like bacteria off of your hands and into the air or onto nearby surfaces. They may also blow around bathroom air that already has bacteria in it. Scientists are still looking into whether dryers tend to house lots of bacteria. If all this makes you uneasy or flat-out queasy, you may feel a little better knowing that most bacteria are harmless.

Is it better to use paper towels? Yes. They might spread less bacteria and other germs than regular hot-air dryers and more forceful jet dryers.