Breaking News
More () »

VERIFY: Can you contract COVID-19 from an automatic hand dryer?

Health experts tell us to wash our hands often. But depending on the way we dry them, we could be defeating the purpose altogether.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Health experts have been telling us the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is by washing our hands.

Soap, warm water, 20 seconds, move on.

You know the drill when it comes to cleaning your hands, but you may be surprised to learn what could happen when you dry them.

One viewer sent in a question asking if public, automatic hand dryers are a public health hazard during the coronavirus pandemic.

Our sources include research from the American Society for Microbiology as well as ProMedica Dr. Brian Kaminski, who takes many of his cues from the World Health Organization.

Credit: WTOL

RELATED: VERIFY: A comparison of COVID-19 totals to common causes of deaths leaves out context

RELATED: VERIFY: Don't stop taking your asthma medication

"Paper towels generally do the best job in terms of transmitting pathogens on to other surfaces or around the bathroom and then eventually on to other people," Dr. Kaminski said. "So they (World Health Organization) recommend against hand dryers. The theory there is that you put your hands under forced heat and that blows some particles around. If your hands are still moist, that's going to blow droplets around, it's going to deposit those droplets onto other surfaces."

That's right in line with data from a 2018 report from the American Society for Microbiology.

Credit: WTOL

The group's research discovered "many kinds of bacteria...can be deposited on hands exposed to bathroom hand dryers and that spores could be dispersed throughout buildings and deposited on hands by hand dryers."

That means YES, you can, in theory, contract COVID-19 -- and other illnesses -- if you use an automatic hand dryer.

So follow doctors' orders and use some paper towels instead.   

Before You Leave, Check This Out