Time To Gag: Public Bathroom Hand Dryers Spit Out Feces Along With Hot Air

by Julie Scagell
Image via Getty Images/markp73

Not only can they spray bacteria on your hands, they spread it throughout entire buildings

In the category of “shit I could have done without knowing for the rest of my life,” it turns out hot hand air dryers found in most public bathrooms spray feces through the air. Yeah, you read that right.

According to a study published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, instead of drying your clean hands, bathroom hand dryers may be actually spreading fecal bacteria onto your hands, as well as other surfaces.

Cool cool.

Apparently, these researchers sampled the air for spores because they want everyone to be miserable. The results “indicate that many kinds of bacteria, including potential pathogens and spores, can be deposited on hands exposed to bathroom hand dryers,” the study reported.

Researchers looked at 36 bathrooms at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine for a harmless, lab-engineered strain of bacteria. What they found surprised them. “Within a large building, potentially pathogenic bacteria including bacterial spores may travel between rooms,” researchers wrote. “Hand dryers could be one way such bacteria had seeped through the building.”

“Bacteria in bathrooms will come from feces, which can be aerosolized a bit when toilets, especially lidless toilets, are flushed,” author Peter Setlow told Newsweek. He also added humans moving in and out of the bathroom will shed microbes from their skin, adding to “the messy picture.”

Well, that’s just super. Literal poop air.

I used to give constant shit (no pun intended) to a friend of mine who refused to use public restrooms and still to this day drives 20 minutes home over lunch just to poo in her own home. I’m going on record to profusely apologize.

Researchers did note that, “While there is evidence that bathroom hand dryers can disperse bacteria from hands or deposit bacteria on surfaces, including recently washed hands, there is less information on the organisms dispersed by hand dryers, if hand dryers provide a reservoir of bacteria or simply blow large amounts of bacterially contaminated air, and if bacterial spores are deposited on surfaces by hand dryers,” which is meaningless because OMG all these years we thought we were drying our clean hands when, in fact, we may as well have wiped our asses with them then gone merrily about our day.

And just so we’re clear on the actions researchers took after they found out the details of said dryers, they’re sticking to paper towels. “As is the University of Connecticut, which has added them to all 36 bathrooms surveyed in the study,” Newsweek reported.