For years, the debate has raged as to whether hot air hand dryers are more or less hygienic than paper towels. Despite the fact that dozens of extensive laboratory tests have been carried out, there are still just as many people on the paper towel side of the fence as those who support air drying. Everybody these days knows that effective hand washing is the very best defence against the spread of infectious disease. However, comparatively few are aware of the fact that the positive impact of hand washing is diluted exponentially, if the hands are not comprehensively dried immediately after being washed.
So assuming you have both options available to you – which represents the better option?
Well, the primary argument that has always been voiced against hot air hand dryers is that which suggests they do little other than blast germs and bacteria all over the room while in use. In addition, there have been some that have suggested hot air hand dryers are in their own right breeding grounds for bacteria, which is then fired directly onto the hands of those using them. In reality however, neither of these theories has proved to be accurate when put to the test.
As for paper towels, critics argue that the towels themselves may not be particularly hygienic in the first place – especially after sitting around for long periods in a public bathroom. They also suggest that the paper towel dispenser itself represents one of the most unhygienic elements in the entire bathroom, which again is something that has proved to be wholly inaccurate in tests.
So there is really no surprise that much of the population remains somewhat confused as to where the truth lies. Every time we are told that one approach is superior, another expert pops up and tells us that the opposite is the case. So once again – which of the two represents the better option, if you have access to both?
The answer – it doesn’t really matter, just as long as you ensure that your hands are properly dried.
Much of the argument from a scientific perspective centres on how long it takes to dry your hands using one method or the other. Generally speaking, it is much quicker to dry hands using a wad of paper towels than to use a hot air hand dryer. Not only this, but those who use paper towels generally do much better job drying their hands than those using air dryers. Which is precisely what leads to the common assumption that paper towels are inherently better – faster, drier and thus more hygienic hands.
Nevertheless, if you are willing to ensure that your hands are comprehensively dry before walking away, the same results can be achieved using a hot air hand dryer.
Of course, ensuring that the dryers and paper towel dispensers themselves are hygienically clean at all times is of the utmost importance in both instances. Assuming this is the case, you really don’t need to think too long and hard about the methods you choose to dry your hands – all that matters is that you dry them!