Avoid hand dryers to keep your hands clean: experience suggests shaking hands is the best method

Shaking your hands dry might really be the best way to keep them clean, a survey by a citizen scientist has suggested.

To research whether hand dryers are putting bacteria back on your hands, Dallin Lewis, 33, held Petri dishes under machines at a public restroom, gas station, movie theater and store in Provo, Utah. Utah, for several seconds.

After incubating them for three days, the dishes were found to be teeming with bacteria and fungi – which appeared as white, yellow and black spots. The dryer in the public toilets seemed to be the most contaminated.

But a separate petri dish that was waved in the air in the bathroom before being incubated to mimic the moment someone shakes hands after washing them to get the water out, remained completely clear.

Lewis, who performed the tests near his home in Provo, Utah, for his TikTok channel, said the results were “much worse” than he expected. “I’ve done many tests for similar bacteria growth on a variety of surfaces – phones and gas pumps are probably some of the worst – but the hand dryer was so bad!” he said.

It comes after a UK expert yesterday warned that failing to dry your hands after using the toilet could be even worse than not washing them at all. Dr. David Webber, a microbiologist with 50 years of experience, even said that people who don’t wash their hands properly can be described as social threats.

Three days after incubating the dish, he discovered it had exploded with bacteria

PUBLIC BATHROOM: For the experiment, Dallin Lewis, 33, started by investigating a hand dryer in a public bathroom in Provo, Utah. Three days after holding the petri dish underneath, he found several colonies of bacteria

GAS STATION: For the experiment, this was also studied in Provo, Utah

As with public toilets, they also quickly exploded with bacteria

GAS STATION: A petri dish was also held under a clothes dryer at a gas station for several seconds. It was then incubated and – like the one in the public toilets – quickly exploded into bacteria

CINEMA ROOM: Pictured is a petri dish stuck in one in a theater

This also splashed bacteria onto the dish, results showed

MOVIE ROOM: The petri dish was also stuck in a hand dryer in a movie theatre. After being incubated it also showed a collection of white spots appearing – showing small bacterial colonies

STORE DRYER: This has also been tested

Results showed he also shot bacteria at people's hands

STORE DRYER: A petri dish was also held under a dryer in a store for several seconds. After being incubated for three days, a few white spots also appeared – indicating the presence of bacteria

AIR DRYING: A petri dish was also shaken in the air to mimic air drying

After three days in the incubator, it gave almost no bacteria

AIR DRYING: During the experiment, a Petri dish was also shaken in the air to mimic the “air drying” of hands. It gave almost no bacteria after being incubated for three days

Lewis decided to investigate the amount of bacteria removed by hand dryers after discovering that a hand dryer near his home was riddled with microorganisms.

A visual assessment revealed that the hand dryer in the public restroom triggered the most bacteria – and was even the only one with black-colored colonies – next to that in the gas station.

Petri dishes placed under the dryers of a movie theater and a store only triggered a few white spots a few days later, much less than the others. But the one that was “air-dried” was practically clear – the best result.

Speaking to SWNS, Lewis, who works for personal item sanitizer company PhoneSoap, said he was “incredibly surprised” by the test results. “I knew they would be bad but by no means did I expect the level I saw,” he said.

WHAT ARE THE BEST AND WORST WAYS TO DRY YOUR HANDS?

  1. The surgeon: They get into all the cracks under a dryer and make sure every nook and cranny is bacteria-free
  2. The wringer: They wring their hands under a clothes dryer, using friction to remove water droplets
  3. The Shaker: They remove excess water before the hand dryer does its job
  4. The paper waster: They use a stack of paper towels to dry their hands, but that can be a waste
  5. Smuggler Loo Roll: They use toilet paper, leaving their hands covered in contaminated paper
  6. The one with the soggy pants: They end up drying on their pants, but pick up bacteria on clothes
  7. The hairdresser: They rub the last droplets from their hair, covering their hands with bacteria
  8. The Drip-Dry Dodger: They don’t dry hands at all, allowing bacteria and viruses to thrive

No tests have been done to determine what bacteria and fungi might be hiding in dryers, and researchers have not studied the effects of drying hands with a paper towel.

But previous research has suggested that hand dryers can send bacteria onto people’s hands when they suck the air around them – where the microorganisms can linger.

Tests have also revealed colonies of bacteria lurking on the nozzles of the hand dryers.

Experts say it’s essential to dry your hands after washing because many types of bacteria like to grow in warm, humid places.

E. coli – a bacteria that can cause food poisoning – thrives on moist surfaces, including hands. Previous research has suggested that 85% of germs spread by people contaminating surfaces occur when hands are still wet.

But there are tons of different ways to dry them, including with a paper towel, a hand dryer, or by shaking them in the air.

To help iron out the differences, Webber, a microbiologist with 50 years of experience, including at University College Swansea in Wales, has now ranked eight of the world’s most popular hand-drying methods.

At the top is ‘the surgeon’ – run your fingers through all the nooks and crannies under a hand dryer. This will help ensure that the hands are completely free of moisture and bacteria.

Perhaps obviously, the so-called “drip-dry dodger” – who doesn’t bother to dry his hands at all – ranks at the polar opposite end of the scale.

Dr Webber, who works alongside Airdri, a company that produces hand dryers, said: ‘Bacteria thrive on wet surfaces, including hands.

“The pandemic has drawn attention to the proper way to wash hands with guidance issued by the WHO, CDC and NHS.

Experts have claimed that not drying your hands can be as bad as not washing them at all.  Researchers said public guidance on hand drying is needed to help stop the spread of bacteria and viruses.  Chart: A list of eight hand-drying methods ranked from best (top left) to worst (bottom right)

Experts have claimed that not drying your hands can be as bad as not washing them at all. Researchers said public guidance on hand drying is needed to help stop the spread of bacteria and viruses. Chart: A list of eight hand-drying methods ranked from best (top left) to worst (bottom right)

“However, there have been no such guidelines on the correct procedures for drying hands which are equally important.”

He added: “Failing to dry hands properly could be less hygienic than not washing them at all.

“Research has shown that bacteria transfer is directly related to the time and efficiency of hand drying, with bacteria transfer gradually decreasing as water is removed.”

Dr Webber, who works alongside Airdri, a company that produces hand dryers, said: ‘Bacteria thrive on wet surfaces, including hands.

“The pandemic has drawn attention to the proper way to wash hands with guidance issued by the WHO, CDC and NHS.

“However, there have been no such guidelines on the correct procedures for drying hands which are equally important.”

He added: “Failing to dry hands properly could be less hygienic than not washing them at all.

“Research has shown that bacteria transfer is directly related to the time and efficiency of hand drying, with bacteria transfer gradually decreasing as water is removed.”

Likewise, wiping the remaining moisture from your pants or skirt after drying can pick up bacteria on your clothes, defeating the purpose of hand washing.

HOW TO WASH YOUR HANDS

Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from illnesses such as food poisoning and the flu.

You need to wash your hands for the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice (about 20 seconds):

  1. Wet your hands with water.
  2. Apply enough soap to cover your hands.
  3. Rub your hands together.
  4. Use one hand to rub the back of the other hand and clean between the fingers. Do the same with the other hand.
  5. Rub your hands together and clean between your fingers.
  6. Rub the backs of your fingers against your palms.
  7. Rub your thumb with your other hand. Do the same with the other thumb.
  8. Rub your fingertips on the palm of your other hand. Do the same with the other hand.
  9. Rinse your hands with water.
  10. Dry your hands completely with a disposable towel.
  11. Use the disposable towel to turn off the faucet.

If you don’t have immediate access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if available.

SOURCE: ENM

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