Public toilet, hand dryer
Latest research from the University of Leeds in UK shows that the modern hand dryers installed in public toilets spread more germs than paper towels.Julie/Flickr

It turns out that using those modern hand dryers to dry wet hands can cause more harm than good.

Latest research from the University of Leeds in UK shows that modern hand dryers installed in public toilets spread more germs than paper towels.

Airborne-germ count went up by 27 times after the researchers used either jet-air or warm air hand dryers.

The study used Lactobacillus, certain harmless bacteria that are not usually found in public toilets, for the study. As an attempt to imitate poorly washed hands, the researchers exposed their hands to the bacteria.

On testing air samples in the public toilet, Professor Mark Wilcox and colleagues found that warm dryers and paper towels were much safer than jet air dryer.

Presence of the bacteria was 4.5 times and 27 times higher near jet air dryers than the warm dryers and paper towels, respectively.

The researchers detected presence of the bacteria even 15 minutes after they dried their hands with air dryers.

"Next time you dry your hands in a public toilet using an electric hand dryer, you may be spreading bacteria without knowing it. You may also be splattered with bugs from other people's hands," Professor Wilcox said in a news release.

"These findings are important for understanding the ways in which bacteria spread, with the potential to transmit illness and disease."

The study, published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, has already invited criticism from hand dryer manufacturers.

"This research was commissioned by the paper towel industry and its flawed," a spokesperson for Dyson, a jet hand dryer manufacturing company, told The Telegraph.

"They have tested glove covered hands, which have been contaminated with unrealistically high levels of bacteria, and not washed."

However, this is not the only study that has found similar negative effects associated with hand dryers. Last year, a biomedical scientist Cunrui Huang from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, reviewed 12 studies and found that paper towels were quicker and more hygienic than hand dryers.

"Most studies have found that paper towels can dry hands efficiently, remove bacteria effectively, and cause less contamination of the washroom environment," the authors wrote in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. "From a hygiene standpoint, paper towels are superior to air dryers; therefore, paper towels should be recommended for use in locations in which hygiene is paramount, such as hospitals and clinics."