With 80% of common infectious diseases transmitted by our hands, it seems that washing and drying our hands is more important than we might think. You might think that washing your hands correctly is the more important element, but in actual fact drying your hands poorly can result in the spread of bacteria.
Wet hands can help the spread of bacteria, and with various different methods to dry your hands with, you may be wondering which is the most efficient. This is particularly important in a place where infection prevention is a crucial element of daily life, such as a hospital or even a care home as well as our home and workplace.
There has been various research done into the likes of paper towels and jet air dryers to try and decide which is the more hygienic, as the ongoing debate often throws up various reasoning.
Paper towels vs hand dryers
Various research over the years has looked at the removal of bacteria on a person’s hands after using the likes of a paper towel, cloth towel and hand dryers.
It has been shown that a hand dryer can take up to 30 seconds longer than a paper towel to achieve the same level of dryness; this could be an important factor as people who spend less time than that drying their hands could end up walking around with damp hands. This, as we know, could aid the spread of bacteria.
Single use paper towels could be responsible for drying your hands effectively and quickly, as shown by research done by the University of Westminster in 2008, but are they hygienic in comparison to other hand drying methods?
Levels of cross contamination
Researchers have found 27 times more germs in the air around jet air dryers compared to the air around paper towel dispensers. Scientists at Queensland University in Brisbane reviewed independent studies on the hygienic effectiveness of different hand drying methods. They found that paper towels did in fact reduce the number of all types of bacteria on hands.
Many studies have shown that it is the friction when you dry your hands using a paper towel that is the key. The friction is the key component in removing contamination. In comparison, it is no surprise that hot air dryers are less effective in removing bacteria that hasn’t already been removed via washing, with jet air dryers actually causing the greatest spread of microbes.
Research commissioned by the European Tissue Symposium found that the greatest dispersal of microbes by an air dryer was between 0.6m and 0.9m from the floor; this is the height of a small child who could be standing by the dryer.
When it comes to healthcare, disposable paper towels are the preferred method but there is still research to support either side of the debate. Hot air dryers or jet dryers are not completely ineffective and are still used in a huge range of workplaces.
In our busy world, we probably don’t wash and dry our hands as well as we should but with so many factors to consider in the killing or spreading of bacteria, paper towels are an important product to think about when stocking your place of work, whether it is a hospital or an office block.
For all your hygiene products and other cleaning products, contact System Hygiene today.