Best Hand Dryers

Updated March 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
160 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best hand dryers

Last Updated March 2020

Long a staple of restaurants, offices, and other business restrooms, powered hand dryers have evolved considerably over the past few years to the point where they are cleaner, more efficient, and more feature packed than ever. They are also no longer strictly for commercial bathrooms. Some models are now small enough and inexpensive enough that they’re showing up more and more in homes.

This buying guide will introduce you to the features and other factors you need to consider before setting out to buy an electric hand dryer. From construction and efficiency to features such as controls and filters, we examine the various elements of hand dryers that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with to find the right one for you. We also show you what you can expect at various price points and offer up some of our favorites and our reasons for choosing them.

Try to target newer model hand dryers when shopping. These tend to have the latest features and be the least expensive to run.

Key considerations

Housing

The design of these hand dryers is pretty simple. They typically feature a motor, circuitry, and (sometimes) a heating element, all protected by a housing that is mounted on the wall. The housing is usually made from ABS polycarbonate or metal, such as stainless steel. While steel is more durable, the ABS polycarbonate weighs less and is easier to mount. Some housings also have ribbed reinforcements for added strength. Whichever housing you choose, it should be rust- and corrosion-proof and durable enough to protect the delicate inner workings of the hand dryer. 

Style

Whether it’s mounted in an office restroom or a bathroom in your home, you don’t want a hand dryer that’s going to be an eyesore. These dryers ship in a variety of designs, and some of them are fairly elegant. Some manufacturers offer their hand dryers in a variety of colors, too.

Spend some time giving design and color some thought so that your hand dryer will coordinate with your bathroom décor.

Power and efficiency

Hand dryers generally range from 500 to 1,800 watts. At higher wattages, you have more drying power, which means it takes less time to dry your hands. (Hand dryers typically range from 8 to 14 seconds per use.) The high-powered dryers are also more expensive to run.

Also check the listing to determine how efficient the hand dryer is. While not all specifications will provide you with hard numbers about how much a dryer costs you every time you use it, some do.

Installation

Hand dryers are generally not that difficult to install, particularly if you take advantage of the included plug and just mount it and plug it into an outlet (as opposed to hard-wiring it into your system). That said, there are some factors to note before installing the dryer.

First, check that the hand dryer shipped with all the hardware that you need to mount it. Be sure you have all the tools you need and that the directions are clear and (preferably) illustrated. See the FAQ section below for additional installation information.

Automatic start

While some hand dryers still rely on a push button to start, most of them now use some form of infrared sensor to automatically start the dryer when you place your hands under it. The distance your hands can be from the unit before it starts varies a bit, but it’s usually around 6 inches.

Whether controlled by button or touchless, most hand dryers shut off automatically after a period of 30 to 60 seconds. Some touchless dryers also shut off when the dryer no longer senses your hands underneath it.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some hand dryers include a temperature sensor and will only start the heater when the room’s ambient temperature falls below a certain number.

Features

Controls

Controls on these dryers can vary, but they are generally pretty minimal. Some that you may run across include the following:

Speed: Some dryers enable you to set a higher or lower speed, which can affect drying time.

Sound: While rare, some hand dryers let you set the noise level.

Heat: If the hand dryer blows heated air (not all do), some also provide a way for you to set how hot or cool the air is. Some dryers also have a switch, so you can turn the heat off during the summer months.

Nozzle: While most hand dryers stream the air directly from the bottom of the unit, some have a nozzle. The benefit of a nozzle is that it often swivels, allowing you greater control over the direction of the airflow.

Filters

Some hand dryers incorporate HEPA or other filters, which can screen more than 99% of dust and bacteria out of the air. If a hand dryer includes a filter, be sure that it’s replaceable and preferably washable. Being able to wash the filter will save you a considerable amount of money over having to periodically replace it.

Safety

Some hand dryers automatically shut off if they become too hot or are hit with a power surge. This is a great safety feature to have, and we recommend that any hand dryer you purchase should incorporate both overheating and surge protection. (Note that if your hand dryer has no heating element, you won’t need to worry about overheating protection.)

LED lights

Standard in most of these hand dryers is an LED light that turns on when the unit needs to be checked. Some hand dryers also include an LED power light.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Touchless hand dryers can help to limit the spread of germs and bacteria.

Hand dryer prices

Hand dryers cover quite a price range, from under $100 up to $400 and more. Most fall in the $120 to $300 range. Warranties also vary considerably and can range from one to seven years.

Inexpensive: At lower price points, such as $25 to $100, you can expect to find smaller and lower-powered dryers, often in more compact forms that may be ideal for household bathrooms. 

Mid-range: As the price increases, such as $100 to $200, you start to find more powerful dryers capable of drying hands faster and more thoroughly. While you will find a higher percentage of models here with more advanced features, such as HEPA filters and LED lighting, the overall quality of construction is the biggest factor that sets them apart from cheaper dryers.

Expensive: At the highest price points, $200 and above, you’ll find premium dryers geared toward commercial restrooms, in addition to sets, such as two or six dryers.

DID YOU KNOW?

Which is more hygienic: paper towels or hand dryers? Scientific studies abound, but to date there is no consensus as to which one spreads fewer germs.

Tips

  • Hard-wire your hand dryer. If you want to hard-wire your dryer into your electrical system but it shipped with a plug, you (or an electrician) can easily cut off the plug, strip the ends of the wire, and wire it into your system. Check the documentation because some dryers offer alternate ways to wire them into your system.

  • Measure first. Carefully measure the space where you plan to mount the hand dryer, and shop with these measurements in mind. Some hand dryers are more compact and will fit better into a tight space.

  • Look for UL certification. For safety purposes, stick with a hand dryer that is UL listed or certified. Also check your local building codes because these may require you to only install equipment that is UL certified.

  • Choose a dryer with a filter. When shopping for a hand dryer, find one that uses some form of filter, like a HEPA filter. A filter can not only help prevent the spread of disease, but it can also prevent dust from entering the dryer, thus extending its life.

  • Check the cord. If you buy a plug-in hand dryer and have few available outlets, take note of the length of the included cord. Some cords are quite short, which can limit where you can mount the dryer.

  • Encourage kids to wash their hands. If your kids frequently neglect to wash their hands after a trip to the bathroom, a hand dryer can add an element of fun that could have them washing more frequently.

Other products we considered

Several other hand dryers caught our eye while researching this guide, and we wanted to point them out, too. The World Dryer Model A Standard Hand Dryer employs a classic design and is available in 15 or 20 amps and several different colors. Unlike most hand dryers, this one is operated with a push-button.

The two-pack Jetwell Commercial Eco Hand Dryer is a great option if you’re buying for more than one bathroom. While a bit loud at 72 decibels, it has an elegant design and features a HEPA filter.

Finally, the AIKE Compact High-Speed Hand Dryer is available in silver or white for commercial or household use. The average dry time with this model is 10 to 15 seconds.

The first hand dryer dates all the way back to 1922, when the New York-based Airdry Corporation patented a “drying apparatus.”

FAQ

Q. Do these blow warm air or room temperature air?
A. This varies from dryer to dryer. Some include a heating element that heats the air before blowing it onto your hands, while others simply use a fan to circulate air from the room. The latter are much more economical to run, with some unheated hand dryers claiming to be 80% more efficient than heated hand dryers.

Q. Are these easy to install?
A. Hand dryers ship in two basic types: those that have a plug and those that need to be wired into the electrical system. If you purchase one with a plug, you only need to mount the dryer to your wall, which usually requires a screwdriver and a few minutes of your time. After the dryer is mounted, simply plug the cord into an outlet and the hand dryer is ready to use.

If you need to hard-wire the dryer into your system, you’ll face a more complicated installation. If you aren’t comfortable working with electricity, consider hiring an electrician to install your dryer.

Q. How loud are these hand dryers?
A. The amount of noise these dryers produce can vary from a low of 50 decibels to 80 decibels or more. If you’re installing the hand dryer in an area where noise could be an issue (an office setting, for example), look at dryers that produce fewer decibels. Avoid hand dryers that don’t mention how loud they are (they probably omit this information for a good reason).

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Jess
    Jess
    Researcher
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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