Using a hair dryer in the bathroom is something many of us do every day without thinking – after all, the bathroom is usually the place where we are getting ready for the day. But is it a safe place to dry our hair?
Using a hair dryer in the bathroom is safe as long as specific safety precautions are followed.
So why should you unplug your hair dryer when it isn’t in use?
A plugged-in hair dryer, even when it is switched off, still has electricity flowing to it. This of course poses a risk, particularly in a wet area like a bathroom, where water is prevalent and not everyone using the bathroom is careful.
An accidental water spill or splash onto your hair dryer could potentially lead to an electric shock, while children or even pets, could inadvertently switch it on, leading to possible burns or fires (at the very least, you may end up with a burnt-out hair dryer).
Unplugging the dryer when finished, beneficially, extends its lifespan. Over time, the constant flow of electricity can wear down the internal components of the appliance, even when it isn’t actively being used. Unplugging it after each use ensures that your hair dryer only uses electricity when necessary, ensuring you can get better performance out of it for longer.
It is also recommended to use your hair dryer with a window or door open where possible – this ensures that any steam that may be in the room following a shower can easily dissipate, making it safer to dry your hair.
If you are wanting to save money on your power bills, unplugging your hair dryer can help to conserve energy. Even though the power draw on a plugged in but switched off hair dryer is small, every bit counts when energy costs are soaring. If you are wanting to save money, and do what you can to reduce your environmental footprint, getting into the habit of unplugging your hair dryer can contribute to lower energy bills, appliance durability and overall safety.
Can a hair dryer get wet?
Naturally, hair dryers are designed to withstand the damp environment of a bathroom, but this doesn’t mean they should get directly wet. They are of course electrical devices and as such, they don’t mix well with water.
Getting a hair dryer wet can not only result in damage to the device, but it can create a significant safety risk to the user specifically – if a hair dryer is plugged in and falls into water or gets wet from splashing, it can cause an electrical shock when your hand touches the hair dryer, and sometimes these can be quite severe.
To minimise the risk, you should always keep your hair dryer in a dry place and away from water sources when in use. If it does accidentally get wet, unplug it immediately and do not attempt to use it. If only a small amount of water has splashed onto the appliance, you should let it dry thoroughly before using it again; however, if you have any doubts about its safety or a significant amount of water got onto the hair dryer, it is always safest to replace it.
Where should a hair dryer be placed in a bathroom?
Another thing we don’t tend to consider is where exactly your hair dryer should be placed in the bathroom. Convenience is of course a big factor, but safety needs to be taken into consideration as well.
Ideally, your hair dryer should be stored in a dry, cool area, away from any direct water sources such as the sink, shower or bathtub or prevent accidental water contact, which could lead to electrical hazards.
One of the best places is a wall-mounted holder or a drawer away from a water source. If these options are not available to you, place it on a high, dry shelf or inside a bathroom cabinet. It is however essential that if you do have a water leak in your bathroom cabinet, to replace your hair dryer – water may have gotten into the appliance without you realising it, and turning it on could result in a major safety issue.
One tip to remember is always to ensure that your hair dryer is fully cooled down before storing it, particularly in a closed cupboard or drawer.
Wondering where you shouldn’t store your hair dryer?
Avoid leaving it on the floor, sitting on the toilet seat, draped over a towel rack or sitting on your bathroom vanity bench. These positions can lead to tripping and tangling hazards, and if you have children at home, ensure that your hair dryer is stored out of their reach to prevent accidents.
The Role of GFCI Outlets
We know that there aren’t a lot of people who understand the intricacies of electricity – you have a power point and it works, and generally that’s all you need to know, right?
If you do regularly use your hair dryer or any other appliance in the bathroom, it is well worth speaking to an electrician about checking whether your bathroom power sockets are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets. The primary role of a GFCI outlet is to monitor the flow of electricity, and interrupt it if there is an imbalance. This imbalance often occurs when electricity leaks through a person or an unintended path, such as water or faulty appliances.
GFCI outlets can detect minor changes in current and quickly respond to shutting off the power. Because they respond quickly they are perfect for use in bathrooms, kitchens, garages and outdoor spaces, or anywhere where water can be present.
Does a hair dryer damage your hair?
No, if you use a hair dryer correctly, with the appropriate heat settings you will not damage your hair. In fact, a study by Yoonhee Lee in 2011 on “Hair Shaft Damage from Heat and Drying Time of Hair Dryer” found that “Although using a hair dryer causes more surface damage than natural drying, using a hair dryer at a distance of 15 cm with continuous motion causes less damage than drying hair naturally“.
Keep your children safe
Keeping your children safe from the potential hazards of a hair dryer is important. Children, being naturally curious, may be attracted to the hair dryer without understanding the dangers it can pose, particularly when plugged in or used near water.
By placing the hair dryer at a height beyond their reach, the risk of them accidentally turning it on, putting it in water, or even tripping over the cord, reduces. However, it is not just about the placement of the device. Educating your children about the risks associated with such electrical appliances is also key to fostering a safe home environment.
Choosing the Right Hair Dryer
Safety starts with choosing the right product when shopping for a new hair dryer. Opt for devices that have auto-shut off options, offer shock protections and have been safety-tested as well as devices that meet all Australian Standards.
In conclusion, using a hair dryer in the bathroom can be safe as long as you are careful and mindful of the potential hazards associated with electricity and water. Always remember to unplug your hair dryer when it is not in use, store it in a dry and safe place away from water sources, and consider the installation of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets in your bathroom for extra protection. Additionally, it is important to educate children about the dangers of electrical appliances like hair dryers and ensure they are kept out of their reach. When it comes to choosing a new hair dryer, make safety a priority by opting for products that have safety features and have undergone rigorous safety testing. If we all adhere to these safety practices, we can maintain a safe and hazard-free bathroom while still enjoying the convenience that hair dryers provide.