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The eternal question - hand dryers or paper towels?


The eternal question - hand dryers or paper towels?

It’s become the bone of contention of our times – is the high-tech hand dryer or the humble paper towel the ideal way to dry your hands?


Well, the big answer is (drum roll, please)… no one really knows. But, as new research papers and news articles explore the subject in ever-greater depth, the debate rages on.

One of the big contributors to the debate is Rodney Lee Thompson, a hospital epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic, who recently said to prominent newspaper The Wall Street Journal, "The trouble with blowers is that they take so long. Most people dry their hands for a bit, then wipe them on their dirty jeans, or open the door with their still-wet hands."

It’s an interesting question to explore – will the larger period of time necessary to use a hand dryer make it psychologically less appealing to hand washers everywhere?

However, it’s an argument that loses hot air when you consider brands such as theDyson Airblade, which can reputably dry your hands in around 10 seconds.

Sitting on the bench in favour of hand dryers is evidence again gathered from the Mayo Clinic, claiming that 10 seconds of holding your hands still under a hot air dryer, is better at removing rotaviruses and E. coli than 10 seconds using either paper or cloth towels.

If you’re worried about the environment, then you might want to heed a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which claims that paper towels are the least “green” way of drying your hands.

The report claims that paper towels and old-fashioned hand dryers generate up to 70 per cent more carbon emissions than the newest technology on the market.

Again, the Dyson Airblade was brought into the argument, with founder of the company Sir James Dyson claiming that the report was proof of the true hygiene standards of his latest technology. Although, some might want to bear in mind that it was Dyson themselves that commissioned the study.

Indeed, there are strong arguments on both sides regarding which is more hygienic, paper towels or hand dryers. While paper towels will clean off germs more efficiently, they are far less environmentally efficient, as MIT has shown, than the most up-to-date hand dryers.

No matter which evidence you sway towards,the choice is yours – although, if you want a truly high-quality washroom service, you should ideally offer both, providing your bathroom users with the hygiene option they’re most comfortable with.