Air Blowers And Jet Dryers: The Wolf In Sheep's Clothing Of Hand Hygiene
So many establishments now have air blowers installed in their bathrooms for hand drying. And why wouldn't they—this saves paper and requires little maintenance. But it really is too good to be true. What if I told you that air blowers are so much worse than paper towel when it comes to cleanliness?
What these air blowers do isn't just push water off your hands, they move germs around. They literally blow diseases to other surfaces, making everything from walls, floors, counter tops, clothes, or faucets even more of a health risk. Even bathroom air is more contaminated because it is the go-to room for dealing with bacteria, and air blowers just move that around too.
The proof is disturbing
There have been a variety of studies on bacteria growth in bathrooms. One study looked at how much bacteria grows on a plate that has been exposed to a hot-air dryer as well as just general bathroom fans and concluded that there was a significantly larger amount of bacteria colonies on the plates exposed to the hot-air hand dryer from several different bathrooms. The plates exposed to still bathroom air for two minutes found an average of 0 to 1 colony per plate. But when the plates were exposed to air from hand dryers for 30 seconds, there was an average of 18, 24, and 60 colonies per plate. This study also noted that air blowers with a HEPA filter did reduce bacteria by 4-fold, but that's still not enough to compare to paper towels.
Another study compared bacteria from a jet air dryer (the really powerful ones that make your skin move), a hot-air dryer, and paper towel. They found that "counts of airborne lactobacilli were 4.5- and 26-times higher in the immediate vicinity of the jet air dryer than those associated with the warm air dryer and paper towels, respectively," and "data shows that hand drying with paper towels contributed the least with respect to airborne contamination up to 1m away."
The fact of the matter is that whether the bathroom is in a small office or a large hospital, cross contamination of germs and diseases is a bigger threat with the use of air blowers to dry hands. Infection prevention should be a priority.
How do we lessen the risk of infections?
As mentioned, investing in paper towel dispensers for bathrooms is a great idea. Keeping employees or guests safe and healthy is always important, and with high-capacity dispensers, time spent managing refills is kept to a minimum. Furthermore, install a touch-free paper towel dispenser. As we explained here, reducing the number of touch points in areas as problematic as bathrooms is a key infection prevention step.
And lastly, a sure-fire way to lessen risks is to have proper hand hygiene practices. No matter what type of drying method is being used, having sufficiently clean hands makes all the difference. The cleaner the hands are, the less germs and bacteria there is to blow around or drip onto other surfaces.
We at Swish want to help your facility to be as clean and healthy as possible, no matter how many visitors your washroom sees. We can supply you with a variety of paper towel dispensers and all the refills you need. We're the experts on this. For example, not all paper towel dispensers are the same in terms of cleanliness—you need one that keeps the towels as enclosed as possible to protect them from splashes of water, sneezes, or the general bathroom air. We can help you with all of this and more.