That's the word, but a new study by University of CT scientists finds they spread fecal matter onto people's hands, CNET reports.
Sometimes billed as a healthier and neater alternative to paper towels, scientists say hand dyers collect and spew out bathroom bacteria.
"Bacteria in bathrooms will come from feces, which can be aerosolized a bit when toilets, especially lidless toilets, are flushed", said Setlow, who added that bacteria could further spread as people shed microbes and go in and out of bathrooms. That's what a new study suggests.
It is not clear whether the dryers are harbouring the bacteria inside, or pushing it out at a concentrated rate.
In a new study conducted by a team from the University of CT, researchers went to 36 of the school's bathrooms and placed petri dishes underneath a number of hand dryers. Plates exposed to hand dryer air for 30 s averaged 18 to 60 colonies/plate; but interior hand dryer nozzle surfaces had minimal bacterial levels, plates exposed to bathroom air for 2 min with hand dryers off averaged ≤1 colony, and plates exposed to bathroom air moved by a small fan for 20 min had averages of 15 and 12 colonies/plate in two buildings tested.More news: Kraft misses cut by 1 after bird strike causes double-bogey
The study found the most likely cause of the bacteria was from inside the cubicles - quite literally poo particles - being blasted into the air when the toilets flush.
Washing your grubby mitts is one of the best ways to cut your chances of getting sick and spreading harmful germs to others, but a new study may make you think twice before you use air hand dryers in public restrooms.
According to Science Alert, the findings were troubling enough for Setlow to avoid bathroom hand dryers going forward, and for the University of CT to offer paper towels for those who aren't comfortable using dryers.
Hand dryers are great environmentally friendly inventions, right?