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It's really quite gross. 

April 19, 2016

Travelers knowingly—and often eagerly—put themselves in risky situations all the time. They traverse the most treacherous roads in the world to reach stunning viewpoints, and even get attacked by wildlife: all in the name of a perfect selfie.

But would you believe that you’re putting yourself—and especially your children—in harm’s way every time you use a public bathroom? It turns out, your airplane seat may be cleaner than the airport bathroom.

As we read in an article on Ars Technica last week, jet hand dryers (think: the Dyson Airblade) spread 60 times more viruses than traditional warm-air dryers. And compared to paper towels, which spread virtually no viral particles, the jet dryer sends 1,3000 times the number of germs into the surrounding air. 

Researchers also found that the jet dryers launch up to 70 percent of the viruses directly into the faces of small children, given their height on the wall.

It gets grosser. According to Vice, Dyson’s 430-mph air blasts can shoot viruses as far as nine-feet across a bathroom. Germs wiped off with a paper towel, on the other hand, aren’t going more than 10 inches.

RELATED: A Look at Boeing's Self-Cleaning Airplane Bathrooms

We don’t expect you to stop using public bathrooms any time soon. They’re a part of daily life—even when you’re not going very far from home. But consider this a reminder to wash your hands for as long as it takes you to sing Happy Birthday (twice) with soap and hot water, lest those little buggers cling to your hands and go ricocheting around the bathroom on your way out. 

Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.

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