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Compared to paper towel, Dyson hand dryers blow 1300x as many viral germs (2016) (arstechnica.com)
74 points by g09980 on Jan 27, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 57 comments

Dysons were briefly popular in hospitals, as a cost-saving measure. Turns out permanently installing a safe harbor for bacteria in the form of a device that is constantly hot and moist, and then blowing that crap onto people’s hands...

Dysons were worse. It was so damn easy to accidentally touch the edge of one while pulling your hand out. Time to wash your hands -all over again-.

It’s been a while since I saw a hospital with air blow dryers, Dyson or otherwise. At least in the areas where physicians clean their hands.

The Dyson hand dryers are really awful. This adds a dimension to it, but the one that bothers me more is that their design makes them excessively awkward, if not impossible, for many people to use at all.


Hey have a revised model that is basically like any normal hand dryer. Probably better.

It's a huge improvement over their old one, but still awkward to use if your shoulders are near or below the height of the dryer. Its vents are also angled to try and rudely blast kids in the face.

A few years ago, I recall being impressed at the clealiness of the toilets in Edinburgh train station. An attendant was diligently wiping each urinal with a cloth, and also used the same cloth to wipe the Dyson hand dryer.

I’m sure it’s not a common practice, but I’ve avoided them ever since.

Dyson has always part amazed, part horrified me. he's become inordinantly wealthy creating products which are almost universally more expensive but less performant (however you care to measure) yet somehow has convinced gazillions of people his premium priced products are better.

edit: I am currently in a large NHS hospital and every desk has one of those £300 fanless fans on them. what the fuck?

Premium-priced despite production having been offshored to Malaysia. Got to widen those margins to buy a country estate ( £17 million ) and a Gulfstream G650 ( £45 million ).

If you think the airblades are bad then wait until you try out the airblade + tap combined: https://www.dyson.com/hand-dryers/dyson-airblade-tap-overvie... # I've only seen (and used) them at a service station in Gruyère.

They're one of the most ridiculous non-solutions to a non-problem I've seen - you end up setting the dryer off when washing your hands (if washing your hands properly) and blow water everywhere. Even if you don't set them off you still end up blowing the excess water all over yourself as the sink acts as a nice surface for it all to bounce off.

With a proper sink they are pretty convenient actually. And unlike their wall units I don't risk touching the unit accidentally.

Seen them at three airports so far. All were splashing water as observed from others using them. I had been warned by a friend beforehand and avoided the fan function.

Doors that kick open are a bigger deal than whatever is there for hand drying.

Agreed. I tried ages ago to come up with a sort of footpump that would force open the hydraulic closer on most doors, just to avoid the "touch the exit door with my just washed hands, collecting two days worth of other men's urine" - but the pressure / force needed to open a door is huge

All you need is metal lip at the bottom of the door that you can catch your shoe on to pull open the door. All of our bathroom doors at work have these on the inside.


Just grab the handle without fear. If the handle is made of brass then you might live.

"Copper and its alloys (brasses, bronzes, cupronickel, copper-nickel-zinc, and others) are natural antimicrobial materials. Ancient civilizations exploited the antimicrobial properties of copper long before the concept of microbes became understood in the nineteenth century. In addition to several copper medicinal preparations, it was also observed centuries ago that water contained in copper vessels or transported in copper conveyance systems was of better quality (i.e., no or little visible slime or biofouling formation) than water contained or transported in other materials."


Plus the guy before opened the door with some tissue so he didn't touch it anyway, plus doesn't the five second rule apply?

More generally on the Dyson product, remember Dyson is a pro-Brexit guy who said he was going to keep manufacturing in the UK only for it to move to Malaysia. So there are reasons to knock him. Plus those hoovers they make do weigh a metric tonne and have bits of plastic break.

However, the hand dryer product is the only innovation I have seen in bathroom hygiene in public toilets for a long time and the product is superior to those 'hand warmer' dryers of old that actually are almost useless and certainly not as well designed as the Dyson product.

I usually just grab another paper towel or toilet paper to open the door. I also carry a small bottle of hand disinfection with me especially in the winter. I use it after e.g. grabbing handle bars or seats on the train. Comes in handy as I not always remember to not touch my face (eyes especially when I'm tired).

Same. But, there are plenty of bathrooms these days that don't have paper towels at all.

Kind of a pain point if you have a beard or mustache and just want to clean a sauce or some other messy lunch out of it. Pretty awkward to dry a beard on a hand dryer.

I just keep the paper towel I used to dry my hands to cover the door handle as I open it, and only then throw it away.

I suppose an air compressor is out of the question?

The air blades are really gross hand dryers to use. The first time I saw one was in a bar/restaurant or pool hall, forget which, but I gave it a shot and accidently touched the edge of the dryer which was wet. I stopped, washed my hands again, and dried it with those cheap chemical smelling brown paper towels which leave your hands feeling like there is a film of leftover hand towel chemicals. That was more preferable to the disgusting air blade. Never used an air blade again. And to top it off, they are always wet and covered in dried drippings of lord knows what.

The best hand dryers are those high velocity designs where you put your hand under the blast and dry them in seconds.

Did I miss a step in the method?

- slather hands in virus ? - dry with one of three methods

Shouldn't step 2 be "wash carefully with warm water and soap"?

> Shouldn't step 2 be "wash carefully with warm water and soap"?

In theory, yes. In practice, lots of people in public restrooms just wet their hands under the faucet, without washing them, and then go immediately to the dryer.

Cf. the Assume a Can-Opener fallacy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assume_a_can_opener

Not everyone does that and the point of the study was to figure out what happens if people with dirty hands use towels, dyson blades and other hand driers.

> Not everyone does that

I sat outside an ICU once. At a not-first-rate US hospital. The handle-pull door was plastered with signs, variously saying "use hand sanitizer before opening door". It was right next to the door. It worked. There wasn't an alternative one inside. That it wasn't used by the traffic back and forth to the adjacent bathroom, seemed odd. The nurse who also flushed (hand lever), without associated sink noise, was a bit boggling. The error induced mortality which occurred shortly thereafter, did not entirely surprise.

I've always wondered why they aren't equipped with UV light to kill bacteria


Or more likely, lawsuits about cancer.

Why, the light would be inside the dryer of course. Also, UV-A radiation does not damage DNA.

I'm sure I've seen hand dryers with UV lights before

Yes, those and ionizer/ozonator equipped dryers are moderately common in Asia. I still wouldn't use one, but I guess once I'm in the room it doesn't matter.

The other thing the Dyson blade does is that it pushes the water up your wrist and then your arms, as you go after it trying to dry it out.

They also don’t actually work outside of a few models, they are always slow to use, they are extremely loud, and when restaurants only have air dryers and not paper towels, you can’t clean anything besides your hands (e.g. your shirt or your face). Air dryers suck.

I love the update. Dyson (of course) just threw 4 studies at them, that were conducted under unrealistic conditions, just like they accused the researcher of.

Just like any other capitalistic company, instead of admitting that their product adds no value to anything and trying to come up with something else, they go full anti-science.

> "instead of admitting that their product adds no value to anything": I actually think that their 'airblade' (pictured in the article) is a very innovative product. When I first used it like ~10 years ago, I remember telling myself "Wow! Finally someone figured out how to make a useful hand dryer". The old style hand-dryers just took too long to dry hands, bit too long for my patience.

Have you ever tried their variation with the hand-dryer built into the sink faucet?

My experience: whatever fluids that were in the sink (soap scum/mine or other people's dirty water) flying into my face after being hit with Dyson-powered wind, me immediately jumping a foot back. Made me wonder how did they ever test this product before release.

This contraption: https://www.dyson.com/hand-dryers/dyson-airblade-tap-overvie...

considering the number of people who flush a toilet at work before using it I was just accepting of the fact they didn't mind a face full of germs.

When my work center switched to paper there was a brief period of people complaining about too much paper. the sad part was them, it was the lazy people who would just drop their used paper on the floors between the doors. Our restrooms have a vestibule, about four feet in depth, with doors on both ends. Building services had to add a trash can there. Anyone else run into behavior like that? To explain further, people used the paper from drying their hands to open the doors

Yes, I used one once... and never again, just try to locate the water sensor without accidentally triggering the explode the fucking sink all over your face bomb. I think dyson is so obsessed with trying to make use of fast moving air that they can't see it's a bad idea in an environment with bacteria laden water sitting on surfaces.

>I think dyson is so obsessed with trying to make money by selling frivolous luxury items that they can't see it's a bad idea in an environment with bacteria laden water sitting on surfaces.


Additionally, it's just unpleasant to use, even if it's not obvious enough to you that having dirty water blown all over you in a public toilet is extremely unhygienic... it's just goddamn unpleasant, I suppose it's users aren't it's customers, so who the hell is buying these things?

I wonder if it's related to the sink over which it's installed? The taps have always worked well in my experience.

All dryers should be banned, Dyson or not.

It don't like to be blown in the face with poop smelling stale air that any idiot can figure out would stir up more junk than possibly could be healthy, plus the hands feels jucky afterwards.

Why don't you simply just don't use them ?

It's not enough for you not to use them. Virus laden people need not to use them also.

The first time I used an airblade dryer I thought, "wow, my hands are still wet!"

Maybe I just have big hands or I'm uncoordinated, but I've never been able to use one of these things without touching the inside at the top at least once. The last thing I want to be doing is touching a probably filthy surface after washing my hands.

Yeah me too.

Then I learned how to use one.

(Which of course is a UX issue, they shouldn't need training)

There's a tiny sticker on the dryer that shows how to move your hands up and down through the curtain of air. I think over time, the sticker just fades away or something. But with all things UX, once you know exactly how to use, you never look at the 'instructions' again

I think that's often down to the technique you use to dry your hands. Used properly, it can do a decent job.

That said, I think the original design wasn't too amazing, though it did look cooler than most of the existing dryers at the time. I vastly prefer the newer design (https://www.prodryers.com/Dyson-Airblade-V-Hand-Dryer-HU02-S...) which I think does a better job. And it's certainly harder to touch the sides which is a problem a lot of people have with the original.

My noise sensitive daughter used to break into tears just looking at them.

However, they are responsible for one of the best memes ever:


I would much rather dry my hands on my shirt or wave them around.

I always could hear them from the dining room of restaurants even with the bathroom door closed. That's what I always am reminded of when I think of / see them.

In my experience it can't even dry your hands unless you wait several minutes. A very thin film of water always remains on my hands.

The Dyson Airblade V model fixed the "hands getting pushed against the walls while drying" problem. It looks like it's been out since 2013... I wonder the article didn't mention it.


So, if I don't touch anything in the bathroom at all and I unzip my pants and take out my penis without touching it and pee and then put everything back without touching it - I'm spreading more germs than someone who touches everything in the room?

I doubt it.

At first I read the title as "hair dryer" and thought the article was about an Internet connected hair dryer that messages your friends to let them know you're drying your hair.

You call it bacteria. I say the blessings of Nurgle.

Ah, for that there's the Dyson Bolter®

Paul Foot rant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xnh6anCwpUo

They're too loud and they don't work. Paper towels are quiet and they work (or drying your hands on your jeans)

However, the real reason these irritating dryers are popular is virtue-signalling: they're a way of announcing to everyone that you washed your hands

>> However, the real reason these irritating dryers are popular is virtue-signalling: they're a way of announcing to everyone that you washed your hands

I don't see how that works. In most offices I've worked, the toilets were situated far from the desks, where nobody could hear the hand driers or see who was coming out of the can after the hand drier had gone off.

Also, I seriously doubt that strangers in the public loos look up at me and admire my determination not to spread my germs around. Public loos tend to be in places were people have very different things in mind: catch their train, finish their beer, etc.

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