May 9, 2023 | 2:01 a.m

The next time you wash your hands in a public restroom, you might want to think twice about going to the hand dryers.

A viral video circulating on TikTok shows what happens when you use a hot air hand dryer versus air drying your hands after washing.

TikTok creator @the_lab_life1 chose three different hand dryers in three different locations along with air drying to see the amount and type of bacteria being pushed through the air.

TikTok users seemed enthralled by the video demonstration, which has been viewed more than 26 million times.

In the footage, @the_lab_life1, who appears to be working in a lab, shows bacteria left behind by a hand dryer at a mall, a hand dryer at a movie theater, a @the_lab_life1 hand dryer at work, and an air dry.

After testing each hand dryer, the Petri dishes were placed in an incubator to allow the bacteria to grow in a controlled environment.

“Trigger warning at about 50 seconds,” @the_lab_life1 captioned the video.

Each dryer and process produced a wide range of bacteria. According to the TikTok account video, the method of air drying has prevailed.

“Well, I wasn’t entirely surprised by the amount of bacteria, but rather by all the different types. I thought it was a lot of normal skin bacteria, but I was surprised to find many different colors and species,” @the_lab_life1, who asked not to be named for privacy reasons, told Fox News Digital.

A petri dish is used to hold the bacteria released from a hand dryer in a mall.
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This cinema hand dryer has an additional blue UV light to kill bacteria.

While some dryers even offered a blue light to kill bacteria, it seems like it doesn’t work as well as people might think.

“The problem with hand dryers is that they need regular cleaning and maintenance. From facility to facility, no one would know the frequency and extent of cleaning and maintenance,” Erica Susky, a Toronto-based medical microbiologist certified in infection control, told Fox News Digital.

According to Susky, hand dryers can contain filters that would need to be cleaned or changed regularly.

“Filters that aren’t changed as often as prescribed can become laden with particles that can harbor bacteria and mold over time,” Susky said.

The result of the Kino hand dryer shows bacteria on the Petri dish.
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Here are the results of the mall’s hand dryer.
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Bacterial build-up can also result from other people contaminating the dryers, she explained.

“Maybe someone didn’t wash their hands long enough to effectively remove all the microbes of concern. If that person then touches the area where the diffuser is, microbes could be transferred to the dryer, which could then be spread to the next user,” Susky said.

In 2018, a University of Connecticut study found that hand dryers in public restrooms blow both bacteria and feces onto hands.

Hand dryers need regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent mold and excessive bacteria, Susky said.
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According to the study, published in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology Journal, the scientists came to the conclusion after placing data collection plates under hand dryers in 36 bathrooms on the University of Connecticut campus, Fox News Digital reported at the time.

The researchers said they placed the plates under the dryers for about 30 seconds and found “between 18 and 60 different bacterial colonies on each plate.”

The TikTok video posted by @the_lab_life1 doesn’t go into the details of what type of bacteria develops.

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