BUNZL Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies Blog

Hand Dryers Vs Paper Towels

Hand Dryers Vs Paper Towels

Why paper towels must be your new norm

If you gravitate towards using a hot air hand dryer after washing your hands in a public washroom, please read on! You might think twice after discovering that warm and jet air dryers are not always an effective choice for removing harmful microbes.

Hot air hand dryers were previously the hand drying method of choice for environmentally conscious customers, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has paved the way for new hygiene standards, where our old hygiene norms are no longer good enough.

Why are paper hand towels a more hygienic choice?

Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important steps that can be taken to avoid the spread of coronavirus and other deadly diseases, and is a method strongly backed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). However, hand washing alone is not an effective measure for the removal of an optimum number of microbes, effective drying techniques must be carried out.

It is thought that a common washroom feature- the electric hand dryer could increase the risk of transmission of coronavirus by up to ten times.

The risk comes from a person not properly washing their hands vigorously enough before using the dryer.

This is because air dryers cause water particles to spray around the room, and if a person has not washed their hands properly, airborne droplets containing COVID-19 particles will easily float around the room and can remain in the air for up to three hours afterwards.

This means that the use of clean and absorbent single-use paper hand towels has been recommended by experts as the safest and most hygienic option for drying hands. They are also the best solution for drying hands, as they are more effective than hand dryers at absorbing water droplets containing harmful microbes. Additionally, the friction generated by rubbing the hands against a towel also plays an important factor in reducing the microbial loads on the hands.

Hot Air Dryers and Contamination

Hot air hand dryers and contamination

Hot air hand dryers can actually increase the number of micro-organisms on the hands after washing. Marc Van Ranst, Professor in virology and Chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Leuven in Belgium, discovered, “an increased level of microbial contamination on and beneath air driers, particularly jet air driers. These findings have implications for the prevention of the spread of microbes and infections and could result in reduced illness and time off sick and so ultimately provide economic benefit too.”

Charlotte Fowler, a senior Doctor further echoed this in her letter to the government’s Chief Health Officer to voice her concerns surrounding the use of hot air hand driers and their potential to exacerbate the spread of COVID-19. She described the increased risks of COVID-19 transmission by hot-air hand dryers to be ‘aerosol formation by high energy electric hand dryers in toilets.**

Comparison Sheets

Put simply, hot air hand driers are not the most hygienic choice and can be a contributing factor to the spread of coronavirus.

There are some real key solutions which can help.

One thing’s for sure, you’ll never look at a jet air dryer in quite the same way!

*Survey conducted by United Minds in cooperation with CINT between April 8–13 2020. The survey covered UK and 1004 answered the survey.

**Articles available at BBC News, 2020 https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-turn-off-hand-dryers-to-prevent-spread-of-covid-19-doctor-warns-11965900

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