We would have a ton more hand dryers installed in the USA if these myths were somehow debunked!
1) Hand dryers are too slow.
This was true at one point for sure. 30 seconds or more is not really acceptable for most people. At Dyson, NSF conducted a study that demonstrated that people were not willing to wait longer than 15 seconds to dry their hands. But new technology hand dryers have improved substantially, and many models can dry hands as fast as paper towels can. Xlerator, Dyson, ExtremeAir, SMARTdri, and many others have much faster dry times. For more information on high speed hand dryers, click here.
2) Hand dryers are too noisy.
I know that motors don't make the most attractive sound. And that the decibel levels that are claimed are somewhat deceiving, as they typically don't measure the sound with hands. And that bathrooms, with tile floors and hard surfaces, tend to cause noises to echo and increase a little bit. But there is absolutely no safety issues with listening to 50-80 decibels for less than 30 seconds. OSHA requires hearing protection for workers that are exposed to over 90 decibels for periods of 8 hours or more. Hand dryer noise is a little bit irritating, but it is in no way unsafe. For more information on hand dryer noise, click here.
3) People need paper to open the door.
I have yet to see a proper scientific study that can demonstrate without a doubt that using paper to open doors helps you stay healthy. And what about all of the other things you touch after the door, like the next door, or the phone, or the refrigerator? When does it end? Plus, hand disinfectants are so ubiquitous now. And many intelligent bathroom designers put both in for a choice, so the people that really need paper still have it. For more information on hand dryer hygiene, click here.
4) Hand dryers use to much electricity.
When hand dryers started to become faster, they also became more efficient. Some of them have eliminated the heater all together, like the Dyson Airblade. Others made the heater optional (ExtremeAir, etc.). Plus, with the hand dryer on for less time, it uses less energy. Many hand dryers use less than 1600 watts now and dry hands in only 15 seconds or less. Any way you slice it, they are more sustainable than paper. For more information on hand dryers and sustainability, click here.
5) Everybody prefers paper towels.
I would say that while more people prefer paper, the tide is shifting in public opinion. Again, with the new technologies available, more and more people are starting to like using the new hand dryers. Plus, with the increased attention paid to sustainability, more and more people are looking to replace paper towels with something that is better for the environment. We've been used to using a product that works. As more and more hand dryers work better, more and more people like them. Don't believe me? Read some blogs or twitter feeds on the issue!
6) You have to choose one or the other - paper towels or hand dryers.
More and more facilities that I see have both. The paper is usually installed somewhere less desirable, and the hand dryers in the obvious location, which manipulates more people to use the hand dryers and save money. You don't have to choose....you just need intelligent bathroom design. For more information on intelligent bathroom design, click here.
7) There isn't a budget to install hand dryers.
This is usually an issue between capital budgets and expense budgets. The reality is that 90% of the time, when we work with clients, we are able to purchase and install hand dryers with the savings we get from reducing or eliminating paper towels. So, it's usually just an accounting game. The money is getting spent already. Why not spend it somewhere that will generate future savings and contributor to sustainability? For more information on the economics of hand drying, click here.
8) Hand dryers are difficult to install.
You should always use an electrician to install your hand dryers, and occasionally that will require a new circuit to be dropped, but in general, hand dryers are very simple to install. Doing your upfront homework and make sure that you have the proper electrical configuration in your walls and thinking through the location of your dryers and the design of the restrooms will go a long way to making it a smooth process. For more information on the electrical requirements for hand dryers, click here.
9) Adding electricity is worse than reducing paper waste.
All of the studies conducted with regards to sustainability show that hand dryers beat paper towels (even those made with recycled content) with regards to sustainability. According to an MIT study, drying one pair of hands is uses 15.5 grams of CO2, while the best hand dyers, the Dyson Airblade, uses 5 grams of CO2. So, if each hand dryer dries 200 sets of hands per day, that's a reduction of over 2,000 grams of CO2 per day. It's estimated that the carbon equivalent to generate electricity is around .5 KG of CO2 per KWHr. So, the math would say that reducing carbon by 2,000 grams per day is like lowering the electricity by 4 KWHrs./day. For more information on hand dryers and sustainability and LEED, click here.
10) Hand Dryers make my bathroom seem cheap to my customers.
This was probably once true, but again, with the new technology hand dryers, the design and performance can demonstrate both a positive message and a contribution to sustainability and green operations, which people tend to have positive associations with. Many high end restaurants, night clubs, retail and entertainment complexes are now turning to hand dryers and getting positive feedback from their customer base.