While consumers, health care institutions and businesses such as restaurants
are often told that electric hand dryers are the most hygienic way to dry hands after washing them, science says otherwise.
The results of all parts of this study suggest that the use of warm air dryers and jet air dryers should be carefully
considered in locations where hygiene is of paramount importance, such as food preparation areas
and kitchens, nursing homes, nurseries, schools, clinics, and hospitals.
In addition paper hand towel use is highly
recommended for improved hygiene in any other facilities open to the public such as, factories.
offices, bars, and restaurants.
From a hygiene standpoint paper towels are clearly superior to electric hand dryers.
Using paper towels to dry your hands is far more hygienic than using electric hand
dryers which actually increase the amount of bacteria on hands and can spread cross contamination
in public washrooms according to an independent scientific study.
The study conducted by scientists at the University of Westminster,
London measured the number of bacteria on subjects' hands before washing and after drying them using three different
methods - paper towels, a traditional warm air dryer and a new high speed jet dryer.
Study results show that drying with paper towels results
in a significant decrease in the numbers of bacteria on the hands - a clear advantage compared with the increases observed
for both types of electric hand dryers tested in the study. And are far less likely to contaminate other washroom users and
the wash room environment.
The study found that paper towel drying reduced the average number of bacteria on the finger pads by up to 76% and on
the palms by up to 77%.
electric hand dryers actually caused bacteria counts to increase .
Scientists also carried out tests to establish whether there was the potential for
cross contamination of other washroom users and the washroom environment as a result of each drying method. They found:
* The jet air dryer,
which blows air out of the unit at claimed speeds of 400 mph, was capable of blowing micro- organisms from the hands and the
unit and potentially contaminating other washroom users and the washroom environment up to 6
* Use of a traditional warm air hand dryer spread micro - organisms up to
2 feet from the dryer!
* Paper towels showed no significant spread of micro - organisms!
In conclusion, indeed these findings suggest that if either a warm air dryer or jet air dryer is the only method available,
in terms of bacterial numbers, a washroom user could be better off not washing and drying their
hands at all!