My workplace has installed Dyson Airblade hand dryers in the bathrooms. The Airblade claims to be “the fastest, most hygienic hand dryer.”
You don’t rub your hands together when using the Airblade. Instead, you hold them flat, with your fingers spread, and move them around in the jet of air that’s blowing the water off of them. This means that the jet needs to reach all parts of your hands to get them dry. But it doesn’t.
When I spread my fingers, my pinkies stick out the sides of the Airblade, so the jet doesn’t hit them at all, and my thumbs overlap. In addition, the jet doesn’t do a particularly good job of drying between my fingers. If I hold my hands still for a couple of seconds to focus the jet on an area I can feel isn’t getting dry, the Airblade senses that I’ve stopped moving and shuts off. Because of all this, when I take my hands out of the Airblade, they’re usually not completely dry.
The Airblade’s drying chamber is quite cramped. When you move your hands around enough to get them dry, you’ll inevitably come into contact with the sides or bottom of the chamber. As the study linked to above points out, there is a significant amount of bacterial growth inside the chamber because it’s kept wet all the time by the water blown off of people’s hands. In short, while you are drying your hands in the Airblade, they come into direct contact with bacteria.
The water from people’s hands doesn’t just collect inside the Airblade chamber. It also runs out the sides of the chamber, causing the floor under the Airblade to be constantly wet. Dirt and bacteria collect and multiply in this puddle.
While you are using the Airblade, the jet blows water not just down into the chamber and onto the floor, but also up onto your face and clothing and to either side where other people may be standing. This water is not entirely clean — the Airblade essentially blows bacteria onto you and bystanders. In addition, if you wear glasses, they get sprayed by the water and end up dirty with water spots.
The Xlerator avoids most of these problems. Its jet blows straight down, so there is much less dispersion of water and certainly none into your face. Since you hold your hands in the open air rather than a chamber, there is less risk of touching a bacteria-covered surface. Since the jet produced by the Xlerator is made up of warm air, more of the water from your hands evaporates rather than ending up in a puddle on the floor. Finally, since you rub your hands together while using the Xlerator, it is easier to ensure that they get completely dry.
Anyone who is thinking about installing an Airblade should make sure to check one out in a real, comparable public setting, not in a demo where the salesman will clean the Airblade and floor and take other steps to ensure that the experience is not real-world.