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Are Hand Dryers Hygienic?

Short version

What do the 'experts' say about hand dryer hygiene?

WHO - World Health Organisation
(World Health Organisation)

There is no sufficient evidence that shows hand dryers allow for greater risk of contracting the virus.
CDC - Centre for Disease Control and Prevention
(Center for Disease Control
and Prevention)

There is no significant difference in the hygiene between paper towel use and hand dryers. (Based on in-depth, independent studies not conducted or funded by the paper towel or hand dryer industries over the last 30 years)
HSE - Health & Safety Executive
(Health & Safety Executive)

Provide hand drying facilities – paper towels, continuous roller towels or electrical dryers
European Tissue Symposium
Washrooms with jet air dryers may have higher levels of environmental microbial contamination than those using single-use paper hand towels
Using a Dyson hand dryer releases no more bacteria into the air than removing your coat.
Tests carried out independently by University of Bradford published in the Applied Journal of Microbiology have proved that Airblade technology is as hygienic as paper towels.

Mitsubishi Electric
It’s a simple point but one worth making; Clean hands are inserted into hand dryers!
All good quality hand dryers will have NSF accreditation which is an independent regulator for hygiene.
Our dryers use an antibacterial, high grade filter that doesn’t just trap bacteria but kills it too.
Leading independent microbiologist, Dr. David L Webber, has confirmed that the use of hand dryers in the washroom does not contribute to the spread of ..COVID-19

Which is better, hand dryers or hand towels?

There is no discernible, demonstrable and irrefutable difference between both methods.

The key for both hand drying methods is to make sure hands are properly washed and properly dried.
Many tests are carried out using hands coated in a bacterial soup before they are placed inside or below and hand dryer. This is unrealistic. People who do not wash their hands do not dry them, so bacteria from their hands cannot enter the air stream.
Bacteria from unwashed hands can be transferred easily to door handles, but not into the air.

What type of hand dryers might be considered 'hygienic' ?

A hand dryer that has either HEPA filters (at least HEPA-13 Grade) or a built-in air steriliser unit, or both, are classed as 'Hygienic'. Many dryers have anti-microbial covers, but this would not classify it as a ‘hygienic hand dryer’.

HEPA-filtered hand dryers

HEPA-filtered hand dryers filter the air before it is used to clean your hands. Whilst there are many differing filters and different grades of HEPA filter, only medical-grade HEPA-13 filters are classed as Hygienic. HEPA Grade 13 filters remove 99.95% of airborne contaminants as small as 0.3microns.
This means the air you are drying your hands is cleaner than the air you are breathing.
While they will have some effect on the air quality in the washroom, this effect is negligible due to the short running times.

Sterilising hand dryers

Sterilising hand dryers sterilise the air, destroying pathogens (bacteria and viruses), spores and moulds as they pass through the dryer, including those that are too small to be captured by a HEPA filter. This is done by a UVC Germicidal lamp. The most effective sterilisers also incorporate plasma generators. These have a measurable effect on the air quality within the washroom and do not just clean the air that passes through them - See OXIZONE Air Steriliser

Most popular HEPA-Filtered Hand Dryers

Dyson Airblade V
Pebble Hand Dryer
Dyson Airblade dB
Warner Howard (PHS) AirStream
Mitsubishi Jet Towel
Dyson Airblade Tap
World Dryer VerdeDri
Dyson Airblade 9kJ

Most popular Sterilising Hand Dryers

Fumagalli SpeedMax 100 UVC
AirSteril Sterillo
Fumagalli MG88 UVC
Aertek UV Blade
+ 2 NEW sterilising hand dryers being launched in mid-2021 – watch this space!
Further Reading and citations

Are Hand Dryers Hygienic - the long version

This week in FM
Japan Lifts Ban on Hand Dryers



Could hand dryers spread or lessen the spread of coronavirus?


Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Show Me the Science - How to Wash Your Hands


Health & Safety Executive
Provide Hand Drying Facilities

University of Arizona
Expert Insights: What is the safest way to dry your hands?


Mayo Clinic
Effects of 4 hand-drying methods for removing bacteria from washed hands: a randomized trial

Facilities Net
Hand Dryers are Hygienic

Dept of Medicine, University of Auckland
Wet Hands spread more bacteria

New Zealand Towel Service
Paper Towels vs Hand Dryers. Which Are Better?

European Tissue Symposium
A comparative study of three different hand drying methods:

paper towel, warm air dryer, jet air dryer.

Dyson Commercial
Hygienic Hand Drying

Hand Dryer Hygiene

NSF - National Skin Foundation
NSF Protocol P335 for Hand Dryers

Cleaning Matters
Hand dryers do not spread COVID-19: The scientific evidence


Facilities Management Journal
Microbiologist report confirms hand dryers unlikely to spread Covid-19


Yale Medicine
How to Wash Your Hands—Properly


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