Woman’s viral TikTok reveals how much bacteria live in public bathroom hand dryers: ‘Trigger warning’


Next time you wash your hands in a public restroom, you may want to think twice about heading towards the hand dryers.

A viral video circulating on TikTok reveals what happens if you use a hot-air hand dryer compared to choosing to air dry your hands after washing.

The TikTok creator, @the_lab_life1, chose three different hand dryers from three different locations along with air drying to see what amount and type of bacteria is pushed through the air.

TikTok users appeared to be amazed by the video demonstration, which has been viewed more than 26 million times.

@the_lab_life1 Trigger warning around 50 seconds 😬 #fyp #science #lab â™¬ Dog Days Are Over – Florence + The Machine 


In the footage, @the_lab_life1, who appears to work in a laboratory, shows bacteria that’s left behind from a shopping mall hand dryer, movie theater hand dryer, @the_lab_life1 hand dryer at her job and air drying.

After testing each hand dryer, the Petri dishes were placed in an incubator to allow the bacteria to grow in a controlled environment.

“Trigger warning around 50 seconds,” @the_lab_life1 captioned the video.

Each dryer and method produced a wide array of bacteria. The method of air drying came out on top, according to @the_lab_life1’s video.

“Well, I wasn’t entirely surprised by the amount of bacteria but more by all the different types. I thought it would be a lot of normal skin related bacteria, but I was surprised to find many different colors and genus,” @the_lab_life1, who requested to be unnamed for privacy reasons, shared with Fox News Digital.

While some dryers even offered a blue-light to kill bacteria, it seems as though it does not work as well as people may think.

“The issue with the hand dryers is that they need to be regularly cleaned and maintained. From facility to facility, no one would know the frequency and level of cleaning and maintenance,” Erica Susky, a Toronto-based medical microbiologist certified in infection control, told Fox News Digital. 

Hand dryers can contain filters that would need to be regularly cleaned or changed, according to Susky.

“Filters that are not changed as frequently as directed can get loaded with particulate, which can have bacteria and mold accumulate in them over time,” Susky said.

Bacteria buildup can also be a result of other people contaminating the dryers, she explained.

“Someone may have washed their hands for not enough time to effectively remove all concerning microbes. Then, if this person touches the area where the diffuser is present, there could be a transfer of the microbes onto the dryer that could then be dispersed onto the next user,” Susky said.

In 2018, a study from the University of Connecticut found hand dryers in public restrooms blew bacteria as well as fecal matter onto hands.

The study, published in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology Journal, said scientists came to the conclusion after placing data-gathering plates under hand dryers in 36 bathrooms located on the University of Connecticut’s campus, Fox News Digital reported at the time.

The researchers said they placed the plates under the dryers for about 30 seconds and found “between 18 and 60 different colonies of bacteria on each plate.”

The TikTok video posted by @the_lab_life1 does not into the specifics of what type bacteria is developing.