Stop using hand dryers – They could be making you ill

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Health risk exposed as high-powered blowers blast germs straight into your face

Hand dryers in workplace and public toilets are a greater health risk than most people imagine and could be responsible for spreading disease, it’s emerged.

It’s a view supported by a UK cleaning company that says that despite a British obsession for cleanliness and convenience, they’re neither as healthy nor convenient as they first seem.

According to the ContractCleaning.co.uk company, disposable paper towels are by far the best way to dry your hands after using a public toilet, as long as there are adequate disposal facilities for the user.

“It’s time the myth of the hand dryer were exploded,” says ContractCleaning.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “Most people are under the impression that the no-touch machine is healthier, but they fail in virtually every department.”

ContractCleaning.co.uk asked 1500 members of the public which method of drying their hands was most hygienic after using the bathroom (‘Don’t know’ responses excluded):

• 65% said hand dryers
• 26% said fabric towels
• 9% said paper towels

“In fact, the complete opposite is true,” says Hall. “Our belief in the convenience and effectiveness of technology has completely blinded us to the actual truth.”

Repeated studies have shown that hand dryers are only effective if you use them for at least 45 seconds. However, the average user waves their hands underneath the flow for no more than ten, during which time bacteria and faecal matter is blown around the room and directly into the user’s face.

On the other hand, the least trusted method – the paper towel – gets the user’s hands dry in less than ten seconds, and has the added advantage of scraping any excess bacteria from the skin. That’s a view backed by the NHS, which advises that wet skin spreads bacteria, meaning that the lack of effectiveness of most hand dryers could be a health risk.

Despite their blind faith in hand dryers, some users admitted to bad habits.

• “I’ll dry my hands for about five seconds under the blower, then finish them off on the front of my trousers,” office worker Robin told ContractCleaning.co.uk.

• “We’ve got a roller towel and a blower in our loos,” said supermarket worker Penny, “I always avoid the towel because I think it’s dirty.”

While Penny may have a point about fabric towels – many users don’t pull down after using them, forcing the next person to touch ‘used’ cloth – the convenience of the air blower wins again.

Machine blowers are also more convenient for employers and the councils that operate public toilets, ContractCleaning.co.uk says. “An electric hand dryer means that they don’t need to keep inspecting toilet facilities to replenish paper towels, or to check that the cloth roller towel hasn’t run out. It means staff savings, but at the risk of public health,” says Hall.

The circulation of faecal matter in toilets – both public and domestic – is a continuing health problem to which many people are ignorant.

“It’s not only hand dryers,” says Hall, “but the simple action of flushing the loo with the seat up spreads germs about the room.

“Can you imagine all that wafting around your toothbrush?”

ContractCleaning.co.uk ‘s advice to users of washrooms is to consider a hierarchy of hand drying:

• Paper towels > Fabric Towels > Hand dryer > The front of your jeans

“Actually, don’t use the front of your jeans – it’s uncouth, and you don’t know where they’ve been,” says Hall.

Cleaners UK:
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