Restroom Hand Dryers

My Trouble With Restroom Hand Dryers

Okay. Okay. I get it. Restroom hand dryers all but eliminate the need for paper towels. They save money. (maybe) And they never run out. By using them, there is always a way for people to dry their hands. I really do understand why they are so attractive for facilities. But, when I walk into a restroom and see hand dryers, (especially if hand dryers are the only option) I almost instantly form a negative opinion of the cleanliness and of the business overall. Why do I feel this way? Well there are a number of reasons, but the main reason is because they are inefficient for the user.

Restroom Hand Dryers Don’t Work, But That’s Okay

Who hasn’t walked away from a restroom hand dryer, wiping their hands on their pants or shaking off the excess moisture? If you observe the users of a busy restroom for a few minutes, you surly will see what I am talking about. Everyone makes a stop at the ‘wind machine’ but few walk away with dry hands. Why do we settle for this? It’s due to time. Yes, the hand dryer is capable of drying your hands if you stand there long enough. And the restroom has acknowledged that people need to dry their hands by providing this socially accepted method.  Oh, and we are saving trees by not using disposable paper towels. Good, now that I feel good about my efforts, I can wipe my hands on my pants and go on.

What About Kids?

My young son hates restroom hand dryers. They are loud. Some of the newer ‘jet engine’ style dryers are so loud, that he stands in front of them and waits for me to cover his ears before using them. When they are installed, by adults, the noise is directed down. The adults are usually over 5′ tall, so the blast of air is directed away from them. But for kids, this is right at ear level.

I don’t think it is going to necessarily damage any ones hearing, but for a kid, it scares the crap out of them! I have never seen a kid scared of a paper towel dispenser. Also, I would be impressed if you could show me one kid that, without adult supervision, walks away from a hand dryer without wiping their hands on their pants, I will be amazed.

Are Restroom Hand Dryers Unsanitary?

One of the biggest arguments I have heard for hand dryers is that they eliminate the mess that paper towels create. To me, this is a total cop-out. If you find yourself wading through a pile of paper when you enter the restroom, you either need to place bigger trash cans more conveniently for users or maybe you should be checking in on the restroom more often.

So why do I say that hand dryers are dirty? Well, we have developed another blind spot for cleaners. Just like that little space between the toilet and the wall. If you take notice of most public bathrooms with automatic hand dryers, you will most likely see a trail of scum on the wall below it. And if you shut the lights off and look at it with a blacklight, it will be even worse. The moisture that is blown from hands desperately trying to be dried, becomes a breeding ground for odor causing bacteria. One that is often overlooked by the cleaning staff until it has built up to the point that it is visible. The term ‘Touch Free’ in restrooms has been adopted by the cleaning staff as well. If no one has to touch it, it isn’t going to get attention.

So, What Is The Answer?

I do feel there is a place for restroom hand dryers. As I said, I get the attractive up front cost savings. But there needs to be an option. Offer both. By having both paper towels and hand dryers, you cater to your customers and users. You acknowledge the green aspect of dryers but the personal needs of users with paper towels as well. So you will still have to pay for someone to check the paper towel dispenser, but someone checking in on the restroom a few extra times probably won’t be a bad thing.

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9 replies
  1. DavidMSharpe
    DavidMSharpe says:

    I use a combination of air and paper when possible to dry my hands; I walk out with totally dry hands 🙂 ! Thank you for addressing this issue with “paper-less” hand drying.Every bathroom I’ve been in with air dryers has that residue under it and it’s disgusting- looking 🙁 ! We sell the jet dryers seldom now because of the noise factor; people say it’s akin to an air hose blowgun left open-lol !

  2. DavidMSharpe
    DavidMSharpe says:

    Having a combination of paper towers and automatic hand dryers and using them in tandem makes for more complete drying,based on my personal experience 🙂 .

  3. Luke Yancey
    Luke Yancey says:

    I would have to argue with you that hand dryers don’t work. They dry your hands just as well as paper would. I do agree with you, though that hand dryers can make a place seem a little dirtier. This is just because you usually see them in fast food restaurants. You would have to agree that hand dryers are doing a lot to save paper and be more environmentally friendly.

  4. Ken the Janitor
    Ken the Janitor says:

    I agree, paper towels are more hygienic. My understanding is that the friction of the paper towels against the hands helps in the removal of dirt and germs. Also, I like to use the paper towels for opening the door and switching off the light. When I’m in a restroom without paper towels and I see a filthy door pull…ugh.

    Another point against air dryers: if warm air is being used it actually encourages bacterial growth. Warmth and moisture are ideal conditions for bacteria.

  5. Keith the bathroom janitor
    Keith the bathroom janitor says:

    I have worked in the past at a place with a hand dryer’s as a janitor I would use a mop to clean the wall. I like paper towels alot.


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