The Showdown: Hand Dryers Vs. Paper Towels

Public toiletWith 80% of infectious diseases being spread by our hands, it’s clear that washing them is important. But when it comes to drying our hands, which is better to stop diseases in a public setting: a hand dryer or paper towel?

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The fact of the matter is, that if you wash your hands properly with soap and rinse with clean water, nearly all traces of bacteria will be diminished regardless of how you dry your hands. But it’s when you don’t wash properly or, even worse, only “wash” using water, that it becomes more important how you dry your hands.

After all, the spreading of bacteria is more likely to spread with wet skin and rubbing your wet, unclean hands on other surfaces such as your clothes, that it becomes a huge problem.

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As it turns out, over years of studies, paper towels are the winner against the spread of infection better than blow dryers. Why? It has to do with timing:

  • The average hair dryer takes 45 seconds to reduce hand moisture by 97% while those who use a paper towel achieve the same thing in only 10 seconds.
  • On average, people who use hand dryers only dry their hands for 22 seconds, leaving their hands only 70% dry, while paper towel users can achieve the same outcome in only 5 seconds.

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So what does this all mean?  If you use either a hand dryer or paper towels, make sure you spend enough time doing both. While paper towels take less time because they have more friction, both can be effective if enough time is permitted.

But the main message here is: wash your hands thoroughly in the first place.


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