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Blow dry or hand towel?
November 11, 2011 10:43 AM   Subscribe

The Great Debate: What's the most environmentally-friendly way to dry your hands in a public bathroom? Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have completed what is believed to be the first major study to assess the greenest way of drying your hands.
posted by modernnomad (86 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
What -- no-one wipes their hands on their pants anymore? In a public bathroom?
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:46 AM on November 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


(note: the study was commissioned by Dyson, so perhaps take it with a grain of salt)
posted by modernnomad at 10:46 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, the most environmental way is simply not to wash your hands at all.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:47 AM on November 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Proof that high IQ does not mean you are smart. A bunch of MIT researchers don't even consider using your pants.

There are no instances of the word "pants" on the whole page; "trousers" is not found until the comments.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:47 AM on November 11, 2011


I wasn't previously aware that it was even possible to use the words "environmentally-friendly" and "public bathroom" together in a sentence at all.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 10:47 AM on November 11, 2011


I just have a dog lick my hands on the way out.
posted by mazola at 10:48 AM on November 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


This post blows.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:48 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why would you need to dry your hands? Are people peeing on them so often this is a problem?
posted by griphus at 10:49 AM on November 11, 2011


The Great Debate: How much did Dyson have to pay for this advertisement?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:49 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want a Dyson Blade for my house.
posted by slogger at 10:50 AM on November 11, 2011


I just have a dog lick my hands on the way out.
Guess how you can save on toilet paper?
posted by Wolfdog at 10:50 AM on November 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


I just dry my hands using the hair of random children on the streets. The smaller they are, the softer the feeling.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:51 AM on November 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


It may be a Dyson ad, but man, those hand dryers are excellent. I hate the waste of paper towels, but the conventional hot air dryers take forever, and honestly I never have the patience to stand around and wait that long. The fancy air curtain dryers actually work, and work fast.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:51 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


(That one sarcastic comment is going to keep me from getting more jobs than that picture of me smoking crack in the nude ever will.)
posted by griphus at 10:51 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder how the Dyson stacks up against the Japanese driers that do basically the same thing?
posted by Artw at 10:52 AM on November 11, 2011


My Brother in the flooring industry LOVES Dyson vacuums he says if ever there was a way to add additional wear and tear and reduce the life of carpet, Dyson is the best...

Also nthing wiping on pants.
posted by mrgroweler at 10:53 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I use a two paper towels and then deposit them in the paper recycling, not trash, on the way out.

Except I don't think you can really recycle paper towels. They are basically pulp already.
posted by DU at 10:53 AM on November 11, 2011


Ooh, apparently it's a fight!
posted by Artw at 10:53 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I usually do not wash my hands when I pee in public bathroom for the simple reason that I shower, use soap, each morning and thus my penis is clean and I merely use hands to position that clean item to do its job. My dork is clean. My hands are clean. Why wash? Were I to pee on my hands, then I would wash them. But were I to do this, I would need more than just clean hands.
posted by Postroad at 10:55 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've used the Dyson air blade, and it does a good job of drying hands. However, if you're concerned about bacteria, air drying lacks the mechanical removal action of the paper towel, which means it's not as hygenic. This is especially important if you don't know how to/care to wash your hands 'properly'.
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:56 AM on November 11, 2011


Ooh, apparently it's a fight!

Dyson clearly wins on the name front. Jet Towel, seriously?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:57 AM on November 11, 2011


I usually do not wash my hands when I pee in public bathroom...

Everyone look! I only touched my penis!
posted by griphus at 10:57 AM on November 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


At least the Xlerator didn't come in last. Those things are awesome.
posted by banwa at 11:00 AM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Everyone look! I only touched my penis!

The student to speak at my general college graduation ceremony (vs the major-specific mini-ceremony) compared people who graduated my college vs other college grads with a story about bathroom usage. Cut to the punchline: grads from my college don't piss on themselves, so they don't have to wash their hands.

Yeah, I'm sure there was a better "our grads are smarter than your grads" joke to tell, but there you have it. I don't pee on my self.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:08 AM on November 11, 2011


I remember that punchline verbatim:

"In Harvard, we're expected to wash our hands after using the bathroom."
"In Yale, we're expected not to piss on our hands."
posted by griphus at 11:10 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Harry Shearer mentioned these things a few weeks ago on Le Show, and he wondered aloud whether we really should be putting our hands in a thing marked "Blade" when on external inspection it's not totally obvious what it does.
posted by artlung at 11:11 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is probably the longest a bathroom-related thread has gone without someone mentioning airborne fecal matter or foot-flushing. It's an encouraging sign.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:15 AM on November 11, 2011


Why wash?

Because you are in a horrible filthy public bathroom and wash your goddamned hands.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:15 AM on November 11, 2011 [14 favorites]


Man secret: really a man need not even touch his dong at a urinal. Unbuckle, de-fly, flop out, ****, flop back in, seal pants contrivance and go.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:16 AM on November 11, 2011


I recently ran across a public bathroom where the flush button was behind the raised lid, thus forcing you to close the lid and wash your hands. I thought it was an interesting bit of usability design.
posted by Leon at 11:16 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


people get weirdly squidgy about bathroom bacteria. From ArtW's fight link, a statement from Dyson dissing Mitsubishi's lack of a HEPA filter:

The Jet Towel draws the already filthy air through a basic gauze filter (designed to protect the motor) using the heating element stores unfiltered air at around 95°F (ideal temp for breeding bacterial) and then blows it out on your hands and back into the room. Even though you just washed your hands, the air from Jet Towel contaminates them all over again with warm bacteria laden air.

No mention of the fact that this air is the air you are, and will continue to, stand in all along. and the air your hands will end up in after leaving the aseptic embrace of the Airblade.
posted by rtimmel at 11:16 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man secret: really a man need not even touch his dong at a urinal. Unbuckle, de-fly, flop out, ****, flop back in, seal pants contrivance and go.

I... I don't think I've ever heard anyone claim to do that at a urinal. In a stall, yeah, sure, but not at a urinal.
posted by griphus at 11:22 AM on November 11, 2011


Once, more years ago that I really want to admit, I got stuck with the job of testing the surfaces of various bathrooms at East Carolina University using Rodac plates. The dirtiest most contaminated area consistently was the flat area around the handle of the door and the handle itself on the inside. The toilets, urinals, sinks, stalls, flush handle were generally pretty much free or low in bacteria, and so was the door on the outside. I'm not generalizing this bit of trivia to the entire US, it could be a Tar Heel peculiarity, but whatever method you use to dry your hands, try to exit without touching the door (even if it requires some acrobatics).
posted by francesca too at 11:23 AM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I love the Airblade. I wish there was a human-sized one I could use after I get out of the shower. Look, ma, no towels!
posted by zoetrope at 11:24 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why wipe the bacteria off, when you can just _blow_ them off?
posted by hank at 11:25 AM on November 11, 2011


I only touch my penis with a reacher grabber tool.

It's also how I shake hands.
posted by found missing at 11:25 AM on November 11, 2011


The first time my Dad ever saw an air blade, he thought that due to it's height on the wall it was a new, fancy kind of urinal. Fortunately he stopped himself in time...
posted by harrgt44 at 11:25 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have you ever looked down the gullet of one of those Dyson things? The sheer amount of scum that drips in gelatinous wads, only to pool into sticky wads at the bottom...there's no fucking way I'm sticking my hands in there. A quick hokey pokey wave and a wipe on the pants is good enough for me!
posted by Kokopuff at 11:26 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like the Dyson airblades, but I'm fairly certain that I'm getting permanent hearing loss using them because they are so LOUD.
posted by found missing at 11:30 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is why I tell young people I know never to shake a man's hand. And if you do, to wash your hand afterward as soon as possible. I really don't get why a lot of guys cannot get it through their brains that nobody wants to shake hands with your sweaty dick. Wash your damn hands. Try to avoid touching the door handle on the way out. Sheesh.
posted by cashman at 11:30 AM on November 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


I will never stop loving these men's bathroom threads.
posted by triggerfinger at 11:37 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


This study's just a lot of hot air.
posted by Apropos of Something at 11:39 AM on November 11, 2011



Apparently nearly everyone now knows not to touch the doors of a public restroom, based upon the number of trash cans in the vicinity of the door. Open with towel, prop open whit foot, do a two-pointer. Voila!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:40 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Studies find that the dude with the towel wanting a tip is the creepiest form of hand-drying.
posted by Artw at 11:41 AM on November 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


I wash my hands every time I go to the bathroom because my hands are dirty, and hand washing prevents disease. It's not because of anything I just did in the bathroom. It's dirty from the doorknob, the keyboard, the bus, handling money, etc.

And actually, I wash before I touch my penis.
posted by danny the boy at 11:50 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I work in a hospital where we are all regularly indoctrinated by the infection control folks. WASH YOUR HANDS! #1 WAY IN-HOSPITAL INFECTIONS GET SPREAD IS ON HANDS! WASH YOUR F***ING HANDS! Then the handwashing lesson, which is:

- turn on water
- soap up thoroughly
- wash vigorously for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday
- dry hands with fresh paper towels
- turn off water with paper towel. Don't touch the faucet handle with your fingers, the instant you do that your hand isn't washed any more. Use a paper towel.
- Use a paper towel to open the door when you leave.

I don't pee on my hands either but hey, here I am in a bathroom, it's a chance to wash my hands and maybe not kill somebody by spreading MRSA. So the hospital administration weenies recently put airblades in all the bathrooms and took out the paper towel dispensers.

PS before my present incarnation as an IT guy I worked for many years as a bench chemist, and picked up the same bathroom habit as every other chemist I ever knew. Namely, washing hands before the act as well as after.
posted by jfuller at 11:59 AM on November 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


Pffft, drying hands is pointless if you didn't wash them well to begin with. The best goddamn hand washing I ever had was at a Mighty Fine burger in Austin, Texas. They use the CleanTech 2000s by Meritech (quaintly known as the hand jacuzzi). And the Cleantech 4000s? That fucker can clean 3 pairs of hands .. simultaneously, yo.

It's so good that I can't even remember how I dried my hands.
posted by jeremias at 11:59 AM on November 11, 2011


washing hands before the act as well as after.

Hear is where everyone who has ever cooked with chilies has a tale to tell.
posted by Artw at 12:01 PM on November 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


Or here, dammit.
posted by Artw at 12:02 PM on November 11, 2011


They just installed one of these at work. They tore out the old one that blew warm air, the demolition left an ugly mess on the wall, an untiled area of raw old sheetrock. Given the budget crunch, the hiring freeze, etc. at this institution I voiced a complaint that we replaced something that worked fine. I highly doubt that energy efficiency was the motivation behind this. It probably had to do with the fact that the newer ones were specified for the new bathrooms they just installed on the previously unfinished second floor of the library.

The big joke around here is that the Dyson machine is an automatic baby diaper changing station.
posted by mareli at 12:06 PM on November 11, 2011


Please. Everyone knows you lick your pelt clean and then find a grooming session to have the hard-to-reach places given a once-over.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:07 PM on November 11, 2011


Followup study: What is the most environmentally-friendly way to wipe after defecating? Conclusion: wipe with your hand.
posted by indubitable at 12:09 PM on November 11, 2011


I WANT A CLEANTECH 2000.

Though, I expect that is not a cheap machine, and requires a certain amount of maintenance.
posted by artlung at 12:09 PM on November 11, 2011


Typical. They once again left of the way that hard core people deal with hand cleanliness in public bathrooms: Three buckets: one filled with ice cold water, the next with flesh eating beetles, and the last filled with molten iron.

It's the only way to be truly sure your hands are absolutely clean and free from germs. Drying isn't even necessary.

And for all you less bad-ass people: pants. The only answer you need.
posted by quin at 12:11 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does that come with cauldron of coals you have to move with forearms to get out?

(Top monk tip: Sit and wait for the coals to cool down. Fail to do this and the brands on your arms mark you as an idiot)
posted by Artw at 12:12 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the "we don't piss on our hands" joke is inferior to the "I don't know about the other guys but I use my spoon" variation.

The fellow behind the BarfBlog has posted links indicating that traditional hot air dryers are worse than simply not washing or wiping your hands on your pants. They aerosolize contaminants and you don't get the badterial-removing benefit of the friction from wiping on a paper towel.
posted by phearlez at 12:14 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The best thing about the Dyson Blade is the ability to make amazingly loud farting sounds by cupping your hands together.

Aaaaand that's all I have to add.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:34 PM on November 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Jesus, what a bunch of clean freaks. Just go outside and piss on your hands.
posted by Xoebe at 12:35 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I could just get the hillbillies at my job to hit the urinal instead of peeing all over the floor, I'd be happy.
posted by jgaiser at 12:44 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just last weekend I saw a man put his wet hands right into a Dyson Blade so the air blew on his forearms, shake them violently in the void in the middle and remove them via the sides. "Shit", he pronounced it. First time I ever really understood ergonomics.
posted by cromagnon at 12:54 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I usually do not wash my hands when I pee in public bathroom for...

So having washed my hands, I open the door touching the same handle that you have touched with hands that have been holding your schlong. Then I eat chips / crisps with my hands. In my head, I am practically felating you.
posted by NailsTheCat at 1:03 PM on November 11, 2011


We've all been in bars so filthy you use a paper towel on the outside bathroom door handle, haven't we?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:13 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Haven't read the paper but it this indicates the level of quantification, I would take this with a very large grain of salt. I expected to see actual carbon footprints per use for the three technologies. The chart really looks like baby science.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:34 PM on November 11, 2011


Disease wise, there have been a number of assessments of drying method on bacteria formation, most recenty Gustafson et al (Mayo Clinic Proceedings Volume 75, Issue 7, July 2000, Pages 705-708) recorded no statistical difference across four methods: Rotary dispenser, paper towel, forced warm air, natural evaporation.
posted by biffa at 1:38 PM on November 11, 2011


quin, you might be onto something... maggot therapy - I wonder how quickly a big ol' bowl of maggots can eat the bacteria off of your hands? Bonus, the maggots will also eat dead skin, so it's like a bonus manicure.
posted by porpoise at 1:50 PM on November 11, 2011


The greenest solution is to hold it in.
posted by storybored at 1:55 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even if you have the cleanest schlong in history, cleaned by the bath servants in Eddie Murphy's Coming to America, your gut bacteria is still climbing out of your anus at an alarming rate and spreading out over your crotchal region.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:57 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Even if you have the cleanest schlong in history, cleaned by the bath servants in Eddie Murphy's Coming to America, your gut bacteria is still climbing out of your anus at an alarming rate and spreading out over your crotchal region.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:57 PM on November 11 [+] [!]


Eponysterical!
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:00 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The dirtiest most contaminated area consistently was the flat area around the handle of the door and the handle itself on the inside. The toilets, urinals, sinks, stalls, flush handle were generally pretty much free or low in bacteria, and so was the door on the outside.

And just my luck, that's the one part of the bathroom I consistently put my mouth on.
posted by FatherDagon at 2:03 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ruthless Bunny: "Apparently nearly everyone now knows not to touch the doors of a public restroom, based upon the number of trash cans in the vicinity of the door. Open with towel, prop open whit foot, do a two-pointer. Voila!"

^^This is how you do it. I never understood the bathrooms where everything is touch-free: touch-free toilet/urinal, touch-free faucet, touch-free hand dryer...and then you get to the door and there's no way out of the bathroom without touching the filthy handle.
posted by mullingitover at 2:17 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


This sign should be in all men's rooms. Probably over each urinal, as well as the sinks, and the inside of the door.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:23 PM on November 11, 2011


And of course, George Carlin has something to say about it:
"It's only your dick. If it's so dirty that after handling it you need to wash your hands, you may as well go ahead and scrub your dick while you're at it. Tell the truth: Wouldn't you like to see some guy trying to dry his genitals with one of those forced-air blowing machines that are mounted four feet off the ground?"
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:27 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, (for stall users) using your foot to flush is stupid. Get a small amount of toilet paper, flush w/out touching the handle, open the stall door, throw paper in toilet on your way out.

And if you hover and don't wipe the seat, ladies, you deserve to be sentenced to sit in other people's pee 20 times in a row. Jesus.
posted by emjaybee at 2:30 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do women not urinate or use hand dryers?
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:02 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The problem with the Dyson dryers is that, while they work, they also blow the filth that people haven't washed off properly all over the drying cavity, mere centimetres from your fingertips. It's like playing a steady hand game with an e. coli forfeit. Fucking Dyson.
posted by howfar at 6:05 PM on November 11, 2011


Mister Moofoo writes "Wouldn't you like to see some guy trying to dry his genitals with one of those forced-air blowing machines that are mounted four feet off the ground?'"

Ya, we covered that already.

Also; the site specific google search blow dry genitals gym is a gold mine of freaky askMes
posted by Mitheral at 6:13 PM on November 11, 2011


Yikes.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:30 PM on November 11, 2011


Man secret: really a man need not even touch his dong at a urinal.

On the contrary, I prefer a two handed fireman's grip. Since this requires an actual fireman, I don't get as much practice as I'd like. I dialed 911 once, they were horribly cruel.
posted by doctor_negative at 7:07 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Graffiti I saw on a hand dryer years ago: Press button; Rub hands under warm air; wipe hands on pants.
posted by rmmcclay at 8:52 PM on November 11, 2011


Proper hospital hand-washing technique:

1. Turn on the water
2. Wet your hands
2. Apply soap to your palms
3. Rub soap between your palms and fingers while holding them flat
4. Spread your fingers, interlace them, and rub soap between them
5. With a passing motion rub soap over the the backs of your hands and fingers
6. Grasp the heel of your left hand and rub soap thoroughly over your thumb in a gentle, masturbatory motion. Repeat with right thumb
7. Rinse hands in the running stream, repeating the above motions
8. With a paper towel, dry your hands. Discard.
9. With another, dry paper towel, turn off the tap.
10. Open the door with the same paper towel between your skin and the handle. Discard.

It's a little wasteful but that's the price you pay for modernity.
posted by clarknova at 7:51 AM on November 12, 2011


Kokopuff and howfar have it. Airblades were installed in the toilets at work, replacing the old hand-drier which would exhaustedly puff - not blow - a wavering breath of tepid air in the vague direction of your hands.

The Airblades are much better...except for the Dyson death challenge. I don't have freakishly long hands, but if I put my hands in far enough to dry the bottom of my hands, my fingers touch the gunky bit at the bottom of the Airblade where the fecal rain falls from the hands of those who wave them once under the tap. So I have to remember to curl up my fingers - but not too much, or they touch the sides - or I have to go and wash them again.

Reading that back, I may need to let these things go a little bit.
posted by reynir at 12:56 PM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who hates the dyson air blades that are taking over public toilets everywhere?

I find it impossible to hold my hand still enough to not touch the bottom or the sides when I'm using them.
posted by Joe Chip at 12:59 PM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I find it impossible to hold my hand still enough to not touch the bottom or the sides when I'm using them.

BZZZZT! Don't touch the sides!
posted by Sys Rq at 2:59 PM on November 12, 2011


I can understand (sort of) why people make the argument that it's not absolutely, apocylyptically necessary to wash your hands after you pee. I will say this, though. Due weird design, it's impossible NOT to hear the urinal flush in my office building's men's room -- from the hallway, I mean. And when I hear a flush and then immediately see someone exit, I know he just touched his pee-pee without washing. And I can list for you the guys in my office who do that. I notice, and I can't help but make a mental note.

So, you may be perfectly sanitary. BUT you're known as the guy who doesn't wash his hands after going to the bathroom, and your secret reputation will suffer accordingly.

Just something to consider.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:26 PM on November 12, 2011


You know, sometimes you need a towel. If paper towels really start to disappear, I'm just going to carry some with me.
posted by Leta at 6:58 PM on November 12, 2011


> If paper towels really start to disappear, I'm just going to carry some with me.

In my case I was suspicious at once that that was the point. Hospital employees purchase their own paper towels, like teachers providing their own school supplies. I really do hope it was just dimwitted and not calculated. I walk around repeating "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ...." It's my mantra now.
posted by jfuller at 1:09 PM on November 13, 2011


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