The shocking source spreading cold and flu viruses

And the back-to-basics way to protect yourself starting TODAY

For years, we’ve been led to believe that the air-powered, “no-touch” hand dryers found in public restrooms are more hygienic than using old-fashioned paper towels. But new research shows nothing could be further from the truth.1

In fact, these supposedly “germ-free” hand dryers are very likely spreading cold and flu viruses throughout public restrooms—and directly onto you.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to protect yourself. I’ll tell you about it in a moment. But first, let’s look at this shocking new research.

High-velocity germs

Public restrooms are the most germ-contaminated places you’re likely to encounter. So a group of British researchers decided to test just how much the hand dryers in these restrooms contribute to all the bacteria floating around.

The researchers looked at two types of hand dryers: jet dryers, which blow out cold air at high speed, and warm-air dryers, which provide some heat at lower air velocity.

What they found was revealing … and revolting. Both types of dryers not only spread bacteria into the air, but also onto users and anybody else nearby.

Just how bad were the hand dryers? Bacterial counts in the air around high-velocity jet air dryers were about five times higher than they were around lower-velocity warm-air dryers, and nearly 30 times higher compared to using paper towels.

What’s more, germs in the air persisted well beyond the typical 15-second drying time of these devices. After five minutes, bacteria levels had declined only by half—and were still detected in the air a full 15 minutes later.

So when you use those annoying air dryers in a public restroom, you’re not avoiding the spread of bacteria—you’re actually multiplying it.

Not to mention these dryers use much more energy than taking paper from a mechanical dispenser. They also contribute to air and noise pollution. And to make matters worse, they take more time—and never seem to really work anyway.

Wash off bacteria the right way

The point of hand washing is to reduce the density of bacteria and viruses on your hands. The friction created by rubbing your hands together in plain water pushes off the majority of these germs. Adding regular soap (no need for special antibacterial varieties) takes care of most of what’s left.

But a few microbes may still remain on your hands no matter how thoroughly you lather and scrub. The good news is that these microbes aren’t likely to make you sick. It generally takes a fairly high dose of bacteria or viruses to get infected with the typical cold or flu.

And usually, you also have to touch a contaminated surface and then touch your eye, nose, or mouth to come down with a cold or the flu. But air-powered hand dryers may be turning the entire restroom into a germ lab. In fact, the last time I got a cold was a day or two after using a few public restrooms at highway gas stations.

As this new research shows, the better option is to use a paper towel to physically wipe off the bacteria left behind after washing. Putting your hands in a dryer just spreads all those germs around in the air, and eventually onto surfaces you touch.

But what if you find yourself in a public restroom that has already “thrown in the towel” and only offers air dryers?

The DIY germ solution

Since I was a child, I have always carried a handkerchief in my back pocket, and often a small package of tissues as well.  And a real gentleman carries a spare handkerchief for someone else in need. Another benefit to this practice is that I can use my handkerchief or some of my tissues to dry my hands in public restrooms that don’t have paper towels. They do a better, quicker job than an air dryer. And I get out of these often unpleasant places all the sooner.

For optimum protection from other people’s germs, I hold the door handle with a tissue (or a paper towel if they have one) when I exit, and then discard the tissue or towel.

If you follow these simple steps, they’ll do more to protect you from bacteria and viruses than any flu vaccine promoted by the government (especially this year’s).


1Best EL, et al. “Microbiological comparison of hand-drying methods: Potential contamination of the environment, user and bystander.” Journal of Hospital Infection 2014; 88(4): 199-206