Hand Dryers vs Paper Towels

Discover how clean these primary hand drying methods really are.

Learn more about hand dryers vs. paper towels in this article.

We’ve all become familiar with the basics of proper handwashing:

  1. Wet hands with clean running water
  2. Lather with soap
  3. Scrub for at least 20 seconds (or, the “Happy Birthday” song two times)
  4. Rinse well
  5. Dry

It’s that last part that’s caused debate for decades: is it better to dry your hands with an air dryer or with paper towels? Keep reading to learn more about which is safer and more sanitary.

The “Electric Towel”

The world’s first hand dryer, nicknamed the “electric towel,” was patented in 1921, but the devices didn’t become mainstream until 30 years later, when a Chicago inventor popularized his own version. Over the years improvements were made, including making the machines quieter and more efficient.

Hand dryers are often advertised as being better for the environment and a company’s bottom line by reducing paper production, waste, and the hassle of keeping dispensers full and emptying trash bins.

But in the past several years, some have started to raise concerns: how healthy are hand dryers?

Bothersome bacteria confirmed in hand dryers

In 2018, researchers at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine brought petri dishes into a public restroom and exposed them to hot air from a hand dry for 30 seconds. They found as many as 60 different bacterial colonies on some dishes—not from the dryer itself, but because the dryer distributes unsanitary air from all around the room.

Jet air dryers may be even worse. Another study found a jet dryer dispersed 20 times more virus than a warm air dryer and over 190 times more than paper towels.

Experts have long recommended the use of paper towels in health care settings, such as hospitals and clinics. And scientists are now starting to encourage the use of paper towels over hand dryers to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Watch as the Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters demonstrate how much bacteria stays on your hands—and sticks to other bathroom surfaces—when you dry your hands with hand dryers versus paper towels.

Environmental concerns

Overflowing piles of used paper towels in a restroom waste basket might make an environmentalist cringe. Even when considering hygiene, is this really the best solution?

The good news is, there are plenty of recycled and eco-friendly paper towel options available to protect both the environment and the health and safety of your customers and employees.

Dozens of the sustainable paper towel products carried by EZ Office Products are engineered to minimize environmental impact, with specifications such as:

You might also look for options such as high-capacity rolls that reduce the number of towels people use or one-at-a-time, touch-free towel dispensers that help reduce waste and improve hand hygiene.

The bottom line

Still not convinced to make the switch? Watch Why You Should Never Use Bathroom Air Hand Dryers Again and you may never dare to use air hand dryers again.

It’s also important to note that studies have shown drying your hands, no matter how you do it, is a crucial part of hand hygiene. Bacteria is more likely to spread to other surfaces via wet skin than dry skin.

From paper towels and soap to waste containers and liners, EZ Office Products has all of your hand hygiene needs covered. Shop our online store today or connect with someone from our local customer concierge team to create a business account at (608) 310-4300.