While less wasteful and at times quite high-tech, hand dryers are now thought to be not as hygienic as one might think. The Journal of Applied Microbiology published the study which looked at virus dispersal actually found them to actually quite harmful in a way that will have you looking for paper towels or as a last result using your jeans to dry your hands.
According to the study it seems the jet dryers spread the most germs. In fact, when compared to paper towels there are about 1300 times more viral plaque-forming units, when you compare the jet dryers to warm air dryers there are 60 times more the amount in the jet dryers. But it is not just the amount of germs but the distance in which they spread, the jet dryers can shoot viruses 10 feet across the bathroom. With the warm air dryers, it is only a fourth of that at about 2 feet and paper towels only get to about ten inches. With this information from the study it is hard to not look at those powerful hand dryer machines as just advanced germ spreaders now.
For a long time, the Dyson Company marketed their airblade as the fastest and most hygienic. Efficient and fast, sure, but it looks like it is not so much a hygienic method which almost defeats the whole purpose. Though the company is now questioning the methods in which the study was conducted. Dyson claims that the concentration of viruses in the study was unrealistically high in that situation and that most people would have properly washed their hands before using the dryer.
“It has been conducted under artificial conditions, using unrealistically high levels of virus contamination on unwashed, gloved hands.”
Unfortunately, many people consider this a weak argument; everyone has access to hand dryers in public restrooms despite their hand washing skills so there is always a potential risk when their product has those incredible germ spreading abilities.