Are hand dryers really hygienic? How do they compare to paper towels?
The great debate of hand dryers vs. paper towels has gone on for years with the efficacy of hygienic hand dryers called in to question by studies largely funded by the paper towel industry and through fake news accounts in the media and on social media. The problem with these stories is that they are often one sided and written in a manner to either sensationalise illicit fear or both. In short: they do not tell the whole story or share the whole truth. Despite these unsubstantiated and biased claims, the fact remains the same: no touch, sensor activated, hands under, high speed, energy efficient hand drying is absolutely a hygienic way to dry hands after washing and is an extremely efficient and environmentally friendly option, as well.
We, at Excel Dryer, wish to help set the record straight. Here are the top five reasons why healthcare facilities, restaurants and other health and hygiene conscious facilities around the globe rely on high speed, energy efficient dryers in the Excel line to keep germs at bay.
- Germ removal happens through proper hand washing, regardless of drying method. A comprehensive study comparing four different hand drying methods conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that “There are no differences in the efficiencies of removing bacteria from washed hands when hands are dried using paper towels, cloth towels, warm forced air or spontaneous evaporation.” With that said, it is important to fully dry your hands after washing. Hand dryers present a faster and more hygienic means to ‘dry’ over paper towels because the dryers are able to evaporate the residual moisture on hands whereas paper towels cannot.
- Think that brown paper towel is going leave hands sparkling? Think again. According to an independent third party study by the American Journal of Infection Control, (AJIC) unused paper towels (that’s right unused paper towels) made from recycled fibres are home to between 100 to 1,000 fold more bacteria than a wood pulp brand. The bacteria found during the study included the flu virus, Bacillus, and Escherichia coli, commonly known as E. coli, the main cause of food poisoning.
- Dry or damp paper towels don’t often find their way into the trash bin. Instead, they may be thrown into the toilet. According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) paper towels are the most common cause for clogged toilets which can create a lasting source of bacterial infection if dirty water gets on the floor. In places where hygiene is of the upmost importance such as hospitals, the installation of a XLERATOR Hand Dryer can help keep a washroom sanitary and significantly reduce labour, maintenance and waste.
- Excel Dryer offers the industry’s most complete line of optional accessories including a HEPA Filtration System that removes 99.97% of potentially present bacteria at 0.3 microns from the air stream. The Wall Guards are anti microbial and are made specifically to fit underneath XLERATOR Hand Dryers. The guards have a special coating that protects walls from water droplets and kills germs.
- Remember, it all comes out in the wash. Proper hand washing can prevent the spreading of infectious diseases. On its Clean Hands Save Lives website, the nation’s anti illness authority says that handwashing “is like a do it yourself vaccine.” Here’s the step-by-step method the CDC recommends:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold). Turn off the tap and apply soap. (Editor’s note: ideally, auto sensors control the tap and/or soap dispenser.)
- Lather your hands completely. Don’t neglect backs of hands, wrists and under nails.
- Scrub for at least 20 seconds. Duration is key; this is where many fall short. Don’t feel like counting? Hum all of “Happy Birthday” twice.
- Rinse well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel, or air dry. (Editor’s note: ideally, the washroom’s wall bears an XLERATOR® Hand Dryer.)
Wherever you go, your hands go, too. So why ever leave effective hand hygiene behind? At home, at school, at work or anywhere out in the world, stay mindful of the way you wash and, when the choice is yours, of the way you dry.
How Can Electric Hand Dryers Be A Hygienic Hand Drying Solution?
Due to environmental benefits and cost savings, we certainly see an increasing number of energy-efficient automatic electric hand dryers in public places like restaurants, hospitals, train stations, airports, sports complexes, and malls. So, asking ourselves if these hand dryers are a hygienic way to dry our hands seems plausible. Our immediate response would be an emphatic “Yes,” because we, at Excel Dryer, are committed to providing the most hygienic hand drying solutions. However, we are not the only hand dryer manufacturer; therefore, our answer is, “They can be.” There are, unfortunately, some trough-style hand dryers that studies have shown are not hygienic.
Most recently, there was an independent investigation, conducted by CBS Chicago, on the trough-style hand dryer. Following the guidance and protocol of the Loyola Medical Center’s Microbiology Lab, investigators took samples to researchers who found that the grunge and grime located on these DYSON Trough Style electric hand dryers contained potentially harmful bacteria. Doctors also said the DYSON Trough Style hand dryers – filled with grime – are potentially putting bacteria back onto your already washed hands; which could cause your hands to actually be dirtier after using the trough-style machine to dry your hands.
So how can electric hand dryers be a hygienic hand drying solution? The most important step is to pick a hands-under style dryer like the XLERATOR Hand Dryer, XLERATOReco Hand Dryer, or ThinAir Hand Dryer. These dryers eliminate pooling water often associated with trough-style dryers and reduce the risk of hand dryer bacteria uncovered by the Loyola Medical Center’s Microbiology Lab team.
Further, even though hand dryers require much less maintenance than other hand drying solutions, such as paper towels, they do still require a bit of attention. An easy and quick way we found to provide this maintenance “schedule” to our customers is with one of our new features, an externally visible service LED, found on all of our high efficiency models: XLERATOR®, XLERATOReco® and ThinAir®. This solution gives our customers a quick and simple way to troubleshoot their electric hand dryer or check to see if the prefilter needs to be replaced. And keep in mind, since our machines are not the trough style, you won’t have to worry about sticking your hands in potentially harmful air. So when asked ‘are hand dryers hygienic?’ we simply say not all but hygienic hand drying solutions that are environmentally friendly and energy efficient options like the Xlerator do exist! Remember, go under, not in and get your Excel Dryer electric hand dryer today!
For more information about the independent studies or for other hygiene resources, visit Excel Dryer’s hand hygiene landing page at excel-hand-dryers.co.uk/hygiene/.