Do Hand Dryers Have Filters? (Explained)

Whether you’re in charge of furnishing the restrooms in your business or are just considering a home bathroom model, there are many considerations when choosing a hand dryer.

For instance, you might wonder how much cleaner hand dryers are, compared to paper towels or even regular cloth towels in a home bathroom.

One way hand dryers claim superiority in cleanliness is through air filtration, particularly the vaunted “HEPA” filter.

Here’s Whether Hand Dryers Have Filters:

Hand dryers push air over the user’s hands to blow away and evaporate the moisture from handwashing. Filters and heaters are optional features of hand dryers; not all models possess them, but filters can help improve sanitation by removing ambient bacteria from the air.

Do Hand Dryers Filter the Air?

Filters are an optional feature, so not all hand dyers have them.

The basic requirement of an air-based hand dryer is to move air over one’s hands to dry them out.

Filters aren’t required for this to function, but they certainly can help make the whole process cleaner and more sanitary.

Those dryers that do feature filters can capture particles in the air, including bacteria, if the filter is rated highly enough.

So while basic hand dryers do not require filters to function, higher-end models do tend to actively filter the air for a cleaner experience.

What Is a “HEPA Filter” in a Hand Dryer?

“HEPA” stands for “high-efficiency particulate air,” as in a “high-efficiency particulate air filter.”

This definition is backed by an industry-standard requiring any filter labeled as a HEPA filter to remove 99.95% of particulate matter in the air.

This includes very small particles like bacteria or bits of debris bacteria could be attached to.

The result is that any device correctly labeled as having a HEPA filter should be much cleaner and more hygienic than an unfiltered equivalent.

Using any hand dryer long enough to fully dry your hands is still very important.

No matter how good the filter is, leaving your hands moist increases your potential to attract and spread bacteria.

In other words, HEPA filters will leave your hands cleaner and more sanitary, but only if you observe proper hand-dryer hygiene, which means fully drying your hands.

Can you Expect the Air in Hand Dryers to Be Clean?

Even an unfiltered hand dryer still shouldn’t be exposing you to any additional germs that aren’t already in your immediate environment.

After all, the hand dryer is just moving air around to quickly dry your hands, and the air it’s moving is already all around you. Damp hands are one of the leading causes of pathogen spread, so the most important thing is getting your hands dry.

Even if the air isn’t completely clean, your hands will still be cleaner and less likely to spread germs if they’re dry, even if you dry them with unfiltered air.

So whether the air you’re drying will be clean depends on how well it’s filtered, but even unfiltered air is better than nothing!

Do Hand Dryers Leave Hands Cleaner than Paper Towels?

Yes, for one very important reason: when used properly, hand dryers leave your hands much drier than paper towels.

Bacteria thrive in a damp environment. Most bacteria require water to reproduce and spread en masse, so one of the best defenses against their spread is keeping your hands dry.

Handwashing is, of course, also very important, so don’t skimp on the soap!

Once you’re done washing, though, your goal should be to remove as much water as possible from the surface of your skin.

Paper towels (and fabric towels, too, for that matter) can’t pull water from every nook and cranny of your hands; they may feel dry after toweling, but that feeling can be deceptive.

By contrast, when you use a hand dryer, water is blown and evaporated out of every crevice of your skin’s surface and doesn’t leave potential bacteria havens behind like towels might.

You have to use a hand dryer until your hands feel completely dry to the touch; otherwise, it’s no better than toweling, so be sure you dry them for long enough!

As long as you do, your hands will be cleaner than if you toweled off because they’ll be drier, and drier hands are less likely to spread bacteria.

How Do Filters Work on Hand Dryers?

Filters work on hand dryers much as on any other device that can benefit from filtration.

A filter acts as a permeable barrier that allows some substances to pass but traps others.

In the case of an air filter, the desired substance you want to come out of the other side is air, and the undesired substances are, well, basically anything else, but especially bacteria.

With a HEPA filter, to qualify for the label, the filter must remove 99.95% of the particulate matter from the air that’s pushed through it.

That means that in a correctly-labeled HEPA-filtered device, only 0.05% or less of the matter that passes your hands will be anything other than plain old air.

The less foreign matter is allowed to pass, the less likely a pathogen will be introduced to your hands while drying, and the cleaner the entire experience will be.

Just be sure you read the manual on your new HEPA-filtered device, particularly the section on changing the filter!

A clogged or expired filer won’t be able to do its job, so replacing filters is vital to maintaining optimal performance.

Sources:

Hand Dryer Features: Warm Air and HEPA Filters

The Truth About HEPA Filters in Hand Dryers

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