You already know how important it is to wash your hands, but did you know your drying style matters, too? "Wet or damp hands that have just been washed can still carry bacteria and viruses that won't be removed until hands are thoroughly dried," says Mark Wilcox, MD, coauthor of a recent study in the Journal of Hospital Infection that tested three popular drying methods. Which was the germiest? Wilcox airs it out....

Germ Central
Jet-Air Dryers
They're guaranteed to dry your hands—and fast—but Wilcox's study found that jet-air dryers spread more than four times as many microbes through the air as regular warm-air dryers. "Due to the design, high-velocity air blows bacteria upward—which may hit your face," says Wilcox.

Dry With Caution
Warm-Air Dryers
Because these machines blow air with less intensity than jet dryers, fewer airborne germs will circulate. But there's often a bigger problem, says Wilcox: "A lot of people get impatient waiting for their hands to dry and end up wiping them on their pants—which only moves bacteria to their clothes."

Best Bet
Paper Towels
While paper towels are not the most environmentally friendly solution, they spread 27 times fewer microbes than a jet-air dryer. Until the design flaws in electric dryers are remedied, paper towels are the cleanest option we have.

Photos: Mile Atanasov/Stock, Johnny Jones/Almay, Voyargerix/Shuttershock
Illustrations: Papercut.Fr


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