Impatience Over Drying Hands Leaves People Vulnerable to Spread of Germs

Americans spend more than $3.6 billion each year on cold remedies(1), but neglect a simple action that could help ward off cold and flu in the first place -- washing and drying their hands. Handwashing is recognized as a good way to prevent cold and flu, but hand drying is just as important damp hands can spread up to 1,000 times more bacteria than dry ones. Yet more than one-third of Americans (39 percent) don't always completely dry their hands after washing them and just 22 percent after coughing and sneezing.

 

People aren't willing to wait more than 15 seconds to dry their hands, making fast hand drying critical to prevent the spread of cold and flu. Traditional warm air dryers can take up to 43 seconds to thoroughly dry hands, and less than half of Americans are willing to wait that long. The Dyson Airblade hand dryer, a hands-in dryer, is designed to completely dry them in 12 seconds.

 

"Holiday cheer might not be the only thing you're spreading if you don't dry your hands completely after washing, says Danielle Stevenson, who, as a microbiologist, helped develop the Dyson Airblade hand dryer. The problem is two-fold, people don't know they need to dry their hands and they aren't willing to wait more than 15 seconds to do so."

 

In addition to lack of time, more than 30 percent of people cite empty paper towel dispensers as the reason for not drying their hands. In high usage areas, stocks of clean paper towels can quickly run out making it more likely for people to leave the bathroom with damp hands. Paper towels can also become contaminated and pose a hygiene hazard if not disposed of properly.

 

People are more likely to completely dry their hands if the method of drying works quickly (73 percent), completely dries their hands (78 percent) and reduces bacteria (80 percent) but misperceptions about hand drying methods may be contributing to the spread of germs, and cold and flu.

 

Nearly one-third believe that rubbing their hands together while drying helps get rid of any remaining bacteria. In reality, academic research has found that rubbing under a warm air dryer actually increases the bacteria on the surface of the skin.(2) 

 

Most hand dryers do not filter the air used to dry the hands, recycling dirty washroom air instead. Dyson Airblade technology eliminates the need to rub hands together and is the only hand dryer that uses a HEPA filter to capture 99.9 percent of bacteria from the air used to dry hands.  

 

More than one billion Americans suffer from colds each year.(3) As millions of people descend on airports, shopping centers and other public places in the coming weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend taking simple, common sense steps to prevent cold and flu including:

-- Wash your hands often and thoroughly using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds the amount of time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice.

-- Get a flu shot.

-- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

-- Stay home when you are sick.

 

According to new academic research by the University of Bradford in the UK, hands should be dried thoroughly, ideally using a method where you do not rub your hands together. Care should be taken disposing of paper towels in garbage cans.

 

This online survey was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for Dyson, Ltd. A national sample of 3,449 adults was drawn from online panels from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4, 2010. The outgoing sample was representative of the U.S. population by age and gender. Oversampling of 10 major metropolitan areas was done and then appropriately weighted according to U.S. Census population figures. The standard margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent nationally.

 

References:

1. According to projections from Mintel International, a market research firm

2. Snelling, A.M., Saville, T., Stevens, D. and Beggs, C.B. (2010) Comparative evaluation of the hygienic efficacy of an ultra-rapid hand dryer vs. conventional warm air hand dryers. Journal of Applied Microbiology, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2010.04838.x

3. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

 

 

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