This is a MYTH.
After washing your hands in a public restroom, you are likely to find one or both of 2 options: the paper towel dispenser and the automatic air or jet hand dryer. Jet dryers were originally intended to cut down on the amount of paper used in restrooms.
Jet dryers were also heralded as a more sanitary alternative to paper towels. In truth, however, these machines have their own problems—and old-fashioned paper towels (used sparingly!) may be the better health option despite environmental concerns.
Jet Hand Dryers Spew Germs 6 Feet or More!
Molecular biologist Keith Redway, of the University of Westminster, conducted a series of experiments to determine which method of hand drying was more germ-free.
Surprisingly, Redway found that jet dryers actually increase the amount of bacteria on users’ hands after washing your hands. That’s because the air inside of the jet dryers is not sterile…in fact, far from it. Worse yet, jet dryers also contribute to a dirtier bathroom overall. The machines actually spew germs more than 6 feet!
According to the article, “The Disadvantages of Hand Dryers,” by Lee Morgan:
The hygienic claims of air dryer manufacturers have often been that the absence of paper towels and use of air drying dries the hands more thoroughly and eliminates the amount of bacteria on the hands. However, a research paper from scientists at the University of Westminster was cited in The Times Online as suggesting that the high-powered jet air dryers actually do more harm than good in the bacteria category.
With blasts of warm air up to 400 miles per hour, the research suggests that bacteria can be blown about the room and spread from hands to other people and surfaces. This theory has been debated, and the true advantages and disadvantage of hand dryers with regard airborne bacteria is not a settled issue.
In addition, it’s easy to under-dry your hands with jet dryers. Even newer, jet-style hand dryers can’t dry your hands as quickly as a paper towel. Too often, you may wipe your hands on your clothes or just leave the restroom with damp hands—neither of which are particularly sanitary options!