Hand Towel or Air Dryer: Which Is Cleaner?

Hand Towel or Air Dryer: Which Is Cleaner?

When you're in a public restroom, do you go for the paper towels or the air dryer after you wash your hands? To avoid grubby germs, here's a hands-down winner.

A recent study put the two drying methods to the test and showed that thoroughly drying hands with paper towels gives you the best chance of walking out of the restroom with germ-free hands. Skeptical? Check the details:

Germs love moisture. It's their ideal medium for multiplying and getting around. And this study showed that taking the time to really dry your hands means way fewer germs, no matter which method you choose. But vigorously toweling down beats rubbing your hands under a blower because -- here's a real surprise -- somehow the skin-on-skin friction created when you rub your hands under the blower seems to release germs that live deep in our pores. Ick.

Find out how not to get sick, even if everyone else is.

If You Must Blow Dry, Do It This Way
If paper towels simply aren't available, or you can't bear the eco-unfriendly thought of using them, go ahead and use the blower. But ignore the directions: Don't rub your hands. Hold them still, palms up, for at least 30 seconds -- longer is even better. Whatever you do, don't give up and wipe them on your jeans or shirt sleeves; you'll just recontaminate your hands. And don't leave them wet; this allows bad germs to multiply and take up residence among the good flora on your hands. Oh, yeah, one more thing: If possible, use a tissue, paper towel, glove, or sleeve to open the restroom door. Those handles are infamous germ depots.

How healthy is your home? See if you're safe from household pollutants.

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