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You’re Probably Using The Bathroom Wrong: Hand Drying Edition

dry your hands in the bathroom2

If you are the 1 in 20 Americans who wash their hands correctly in the bathroom, there’s an adjustment you NEED to make!

A recent study by a team at the University at Buffalo in Western New York (think, Niagara Falls) has found that high-speed hand dryers are cleaner, more environmentally friendly and save a ton of money over time.

The team examined four high-traffic and low-traffic men and women’s bathrooms on the university campus that had Dyson Airblades and paper-towels dispensers. Then, they used blow torches (yes, blow torches) and cotton swabs to collect bacteria samples to find that six times more bacteria grew on paper-towel dispenser push-and-crank handles than on the Dyson Airblades.

But surprisingly, people sometimes opt to use paper towels.

“People in general think hand dryers are dirty,” said student researcher Alanna Olear, a senior environmental engineering major. “But they don’t know a lot about the [air dryer], which is cleaner than normal hand dryers. So their perception on regular hand dryers sways them to think that the Dysons are bad as well.”

And as a bonus, the air dryer is much better for the environment and the wallet. Through the life cycle of each product, Dyson Airblades produced 42% less carbon dioxide and cost under $28 per year in energy consumption, compared to paper towels, which cost more than $900 per year.

The team’s findings ultimately won second place in the 2014 New York State Pollution Prevention Institute’s R&D Student Competition.

Jump to the Buffalo Reporter to read the entire study–or else be sure to use a high-speed air dryer next time you’re washing your paws.

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    Written by Big Ideas

    Big Ideas is the Blog of The State University of New York, published by the Office of New Media.

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  • Dr. Mary M. Brewster says:

    Actually, that was disproved by Mythbusters- if people don’t wash hands properly, the germs often blow around and land everywhere in the vicinity of the dryer. Paper towels, on the other hand, are much more effective. Learn up!

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