You’re in a public bathroom and you’ve just finished washing your hands. You turn toward the door to go dry your hands and you’re faced with a jet air dryer and an automatic paper towel dispenser. What’s your move?
Did you know that 80% of common infectious diseases are spread by our hands? Effective hand washing remains the best defense, but what about when it comes to drying our hands? Is there a difference, health-wise, between using paper towels or blow dryers?
According to Kimberly-Clark, jet air dryers increase the bacteria count on fingertips by 42% with the air they’re blowing onto them. Hot air dryers increase germs by up to 194%!
Paper towels, on the other hand, will decrease the number of germs on your hands by up to 77%.
The October persona here at Innovative Office Solutions is the Germophobe and with that in mind, we’re trying to give you some great options as far as staying healthy as we enter into the heart of the cold and flu season.
Researchers at Queensland University in Brisbane, Australia, completed a study recently to determine the differences between drying with paper towels and hand dryers, knowing that hands are more likely to spread bacteria when wet than when dry.
The study revealed, “from a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electronic air dryers” and “drying hands thoroughly with single-use, disposable paper towels is the preferred method of hand drying.” It concluded by recommending, “The provision of paper towels should be considered as a means of improving hand hygiene adherence.”
The study measured the “changes in the number of bacteria on the hands before and after the use of paper towels, hot air dryer or jet air dryer. The study found that paper towels generally achieve 90% more dryness with normal use.
As to which method is more environmentally friendly, Sierra Club wrote the following in 2013: “Paper towels are less harmful than electric dryers overall, especially in terms of preventing CO2 emissions. Paper also uses less water than dryers, because so much H2O is needed to generate electricity for their heating elements.”
As for which one is more convenient, Kimberly-Clarke reports that people spend an average of 21 seconds using a jet air dryer vs. 10 seconds for paper towels.
Most importantly, especially in honor of the Germophobe, wash your hands regularly. Go out of your way to wash them once or twice more per day than what you normally do. When it’s time to dry them, reach for the paper towel dispenser. You’ll significantly reduce the amount of bacteria on your hands and increase your odds of staying healthy over the winter months.