Home Air Quality Research: Hand Dryers, Paper Towels Just as Hygiene Safe as the Other

Research: Hand Dryers, Paper Towels Just as Hygiene Safe as the Other

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Glenn Hasek

Some of the most read articles on Green Lodging News address the hand dryer versus paper towel debate. The articles have had thousands of page views. There are various ways to approach the debate—from a waste standpoint, for example, or a hygiene standpoint. It is certainly a topic of interest today given COVID-19 so hygiene has become topic No. 1.

I received news from Excel Dryer this past week of the results of a University of Arizona Health Sciences research team study entitled, Comparison of electric hand dryers and paper towels for hand hygiene: a critical review of the literature. The researchers sifted through the current breadth of data, including published studies, news reports and online content, seeking to uncover which hand drying method, hand dryers or paper towels, is more hygienic and safer relative to human health risks. The researchers found that, while studies in the public arena generally favor paper towels over hand dryers, the conclusions are largely misleading and unsubstantiated.

Through the scientific research, the use of hand dryers and paper towels to dry hands were found to be equal from a health and safety perspective; the findings echo recommendations from the World Health Organization that everyone “frequently clean [their] hands…” and “dry [them] thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer,” and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that report that, “Both [clean towels or air hand dryers] are effective ways to dry hands.”

Many public restrooms seem to have both bases covered these days by offering both paper towels and hand dryers but there are of course many exceptions where there is just one or the other. In a COVID-19 world, the case can be made that the idea of dirty paper towels piling up in a restroom is not very enticing, just as there may be concerns about hand dryers stirring up air that may already be contaminated with COVID-19 (some hand dryers include air filters, many do not).

Mayo Clinic Study Finding

The study that was found to have the highest rigor score was an independent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, Effects of 4 Hand-Drying Methods for Removing Bacteria From Washed Hands: A Randomized Trial. It found that “…there is no difference in bacteria counts when drying with paper towels or hand dryers.”

Kelly Reynolds, MSPH, Ph.D., the corresponding author of the review explained that, “No study to date has examined the “best” drying method,” and that she and her team, “found no empirical data to support one hand drying method over another from a health and safety perspective.”

“At a time when proper hand washing and drying is of the utmost importance, exclusively recommending paper towels is limiting, and frankly, irresponsible,” said William Gagnon, Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Excel Dryer. “Hand dryers provide an effective way to achieve completely dry hands, a critical part of proper hand hygiene, the top defense against the spread of germs, like coronavirus.”

The scoping review’s conclusion calls for future studies to examine the relationship between contamination that occurs due to hand-drying methods and human health outcomes. They offer that this can be accomplished by utilizing real-world scenarios while controlling certain variables.

Green Lodging News Adds LATHER Hand Sanitizer to Directory

Green Lodging News has added LATHER to the Hand Sanitizer category in its Green Product & Service Directory. Featured in Allure and chosen as one of Well+Good’s top six picks, LATHER’s Hand Sanitizer with Moisturizing Aloe is as gentle to skin as it is high performing. This botanical-enriched hand gel helps defend against harmful bacteria. Containing premium grade alcohol at higher levels than the CDC’s 60 percent minimum recommendation, LATHER’s antiseptic is infused with citrus essential oil and hydrating glycerin to combat the drying effects of alcohol. It is now available in 1 oz, 2 oz, 10 oz and bulk sizing, as well as in the new Clean & Calm Hygiene Essentials Kit, a long-lasting bundle of wellness products. Contact LATHER via email at sales@lather.zohodesk.com or by phone at (626) 397-9050, ext. 208. Learn more at www.latherhotel.com.

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