An M.D. candidate explained why you should never use those automatic hand dryers in public bathrooms.
TikToker @madmedicine is all about sharing “dope medical facts” to make health information more accessible. He recently shared a video about how those super convenient, contactless hand dryers actually don’t stop the spread of bacteria. They make it worse.
The medical student reacted to a popular TikTok trend where people use Dyson hand dryers to curl their hair.
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but those hand dryers in public restrooms are extremely disgusting,” he explained. “There have been actual studies done on those hand dryers to see if they spread bacteria. Spoiler alert: They tend to spread more bacteria compared to just towels.”
According to the Harvard Health blog, a 2018 study by the University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac University found that exposure to hot hand dryers exponentially grew bacteria colonies within a matter of seconds.
“Every time a lidless toilet is flushed, it aerosolizes a fine mist of microbes. This fecal cloud may disperse over an area as large as 6 square meters (65 square feet),” Harvard Health stated.
This means that each time someone flushes a toilet, particles of fecal bacteria spread through the air. When the bacteria comes in contact with a hot hand dryer, it multiplies.
Another TikToker, @phonesoap, tried a similar experiment using petri dishes. In addition to taking air samples from a variety of dryers, he also took one control version that “simulated” shaking his hands dry.
PhoneSoap is a company that creates products using UV-C light to disinfect “totally gross, germ-covered cellphones,” according to the site.
Founders Dan Barnes and Wes LaPorte use their TikTok platform to test how “germy” various everyday objects are. They’ve checked out everything from credit cards to dog toys.
In the air dryer video, @phonesoap left all of the petri dishes in an incubator for three days. When he took them out, he found no visible growth on the dish used to shake his hands dry. The others, however, told a different story.
All of the hand dryers — one from the same public bathroom as the “control” dish, one from a gas station, one from a movie theater and one from a store — all showed bacterial growth.
“Based off of this test, it looks like waving your hand dry is the best option,” he says in the video.
So far, the TikTok post has logged more than 6 million views and 952,000 likes. Needless to say, people are definitely interested in keeping their hands clean. And based on studies and informal experiments, it looks as if hot hand dryers aren’t the answer.
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