The hand-dryer ‘revolution’ – a roaring success or wheezy disaster?

Wash hands

How many ways are there to dry your hands? The more conventional of us would just use a hand towel or perhaps some form of tissue, but in recent years a new phenomenon has taken over… the hand-dryer. Now I am no stranger to technology. I like my iPhone and iPod (although feel the former has the battery life of one of the bike lights you buy in the euro/pound shops) and also enjoy my whizzy new ASUS notebook. But when it comes to technology that just seems to be there for the sake of it, or for companies to make more money isn’t it just pointless?

I know the argument for hand dryers is a valid one. It’s saves on paper waste and therefore saves our planet. I do however wonder why environmental campaigners latched onto this ‘waste’ as substantial, when there seems to be much more important things to concentrate on that ruin our planet like – the burning of fossil fuels at an alarming rate, effluent from radioactive power stations and ruining natural environments to drill for oil. Perhaps they thought it was an easy win. Perhaps they are just very concerned about paper towels and hand hygiene.

Dyson Airblade

Anyway we now live in a world that has them and they are everywhere. After Dyson launched it’s super-duper blow your hands off Airblade dryer, the world of hand hygiene just hasn’t been the same. Nor for that matter has the world of vacuuming. I freely admit to wanting a Dyson vacuum, but unfortunately don’t wish to mortgage the very house I need to clean to get it. But I digress. Now in the realm of hand dryers there is not only the Airblade but also the XLERATOR, the Speedflow, BLAST, Airforce, Extreme Air and my personal favourite the Dan Dryer. Where the hell have these all come from?

As Dyson is so expensive, they are obviously cheaper versions that are installed by spendthrifty pub and restaurant owners that have fallen into the environmental and hygiene trap that bounds around the media. The debate about which is better for the environment, which is more effective at getting rid of bacteria and which is cheaper seems to crop up when there is no news out there. Nada, zip not even a civil war somewhere in the world to report on. Harvard University has even decided to spend its time looking at energy efficiency and environmental impact in the comparison of hand dryer vs paper towels debacle. Seriously, the article is here.

All that is great but when it comes down to it, have a dryer or don’t have a dryer. As Cilla Black used to say “The choice is yours!”. The thing that drives me mad is how crap some of them are. Take the ‘dryers’ in McDonalds. They are not dynamic blowing machines, but jails for fairies that are forced to blow on your hands when you put them underneath. They are so rubbish they wouldn’t blow over a matchstick. They are not dryers.

Dan Dryer

Take also the Dan Dryer, which I used last week and prompted this article. It actually put more water on my hands than it took off. To the point where by the end of the timed 1 minute session drops actually fell from my fingers. They are also not dryers. The XLERATOR seems to believe it is a wind tunnel and blows at the centre of your hands with such speed it makes your skin blubber. This is a hand dryer that thinks it’s role is to lift skydivers.

I am fan of not using paper towels, but I am also a fan of dry hands. To all producers of hand dryers please either make them actually dry or stop bloody making them. To all establishments that install them, please try them out beforehand. There must be a showroom of hand dryers somewhere or a circus that goes to a town near you.