Paper towels may not be the most environmentally friendly way to dry your hands, but they are the most hygienic. Australian scientist Cunrui Huang reviewed 12 studies on hand-drying, and found paper towels were the superior method in a public restroom, because they dry your hands more quickly than air dryers, and bacteria spreads more rapidly on wet hands, the AAP reports. "A hand dryer takes 30 seconds longer to achieve about the same dryness as a towel," says Huang. "This is important because most people spend less than 20 seconds drying their hands."
"It is likely that paper towels also work better because they physically remove bacteria from the hands, whereas hot air dryers and jet air dryers cannot," he adds. Even worse than a quickie blast under an air dryer? Rubbing your hands together when you do it, reports Wired. "Rubbing hands while under hot-air dryers leads to greater bacterial numbers and airborne dissemination," Huang says. "It might be that rubbing hands causes bacteria to migrate from hair follicles to the skin surface." (Read more hygiene stories.)