Do Your Facility Residents Dry Their Hands With Germs?

Study finds public restroom drying fixtures teeming with drug-resistant bacteria

March 11, 2019

When you clean your facility’s restrooms, do you wipe down and disinfect the paper towel dispensers and hand dryers?A new study published in the journal Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control found that hand-drying fixtures in public restrooms are potential sites for transmitting disease-causing bacteria.

Researchers tested the bacterial contamination levels of 55 public restrooms, ranging from restrooms inside five-star hotels and restaurants, to those in public libraries, shopping malls, grocery stores, and public housing facilities. They collected samples from around the outlets of paper towel dispensers and hand dryers, as well as the restroom exit door handles.

Researchers identified 52 bacterial species, including Staphylococcus aureus (staph). More than 97 percent of the staph bacteria collected were found to be resistant to at least one drug and more than 22 percent were resistant to three drugs, most commonly penicillin, erythromycin, and clindamycin.

In addition to collecting bacterial samples, researchers also observed the general cleanliness of the restrooms. They found nearly 90 percent of the trash bins were improperly closed, 46 percent of the female sanitary bins were uncovered with napkins and tampons sometimes found overflowing or outside of the bin. More than 50 percent of the restrooms lacked shelves or areas for placing personal items while patrons washed and dried their hands.


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