Guest Blog: Are Paper Towels Better Than Hand Dryers?

February 22, 2021

Ever since the cleanliness of jet air dryers was brought to the media’s attention, there has been a long debate over the best way to dry your hands after a visit to a public / shared bathroom. Do you opt for warm air hand dryers, or do you use a paper towel? Research and studies have led us to believe that paper towels are the optimum choice for hygiene… let’s find out why as we speak to health and hygiene experts, Trade Frog.

Firstly… Are Paper Towels Really More Hygienic Than Hand Dryers?

“Let’s start with something you may not have even thought about or considered when using air dryers. After the hand washing process, using a hot air dryer actually increases the number of pathogens on fingers, leaving your hands dirtier than before. Paper towels will dry hands more quickly, remove more bacteria, and cause less contamination.

Wet hands spread more pathogens than dry hands, especially in a school environment where some individuals leave the washrooms without properly drying their hands. This means an increased risk of germ spread and cross-contamination from surfaces such as countertops or door handles.  

Using paper towels is highly recommended in locations where hygiene is paramount, such as schools and hospitals. When [1], 62% of people would rather use paper hand towels over hot air dryers in the washroom as this provides a cleaner and healthier environment with the current COVID pandemic.

Although air dryers are marketed as no-touch solutions, the air produced to dry hands can actually increase germ spread and put your facility at a greater risk of an outbreak.

In fact, most case studies[2] have found that to achieve . This clearly shows us that using paper towels to dry hands will reduce time spent in the washroom for any user which in 2021, is vital!  

that air hand dryers are unsuitable for use in critical patient care areas, as they may contribute to cross infection either via airborne dissemination or via contaminated personnel. Cross infection or contamination can also spread fast within school environments where a lot of this begins in the washroom from hands not being washed or dried in the correct way.

So to summarise… yes, paper towels really are much more hygienic than hand dryers. Paper towels dry hands more efficiently, remove bacteria effectively and cause less contamination in a washroom environment.”

What’s Going To Be Cheaper?

“This is a very interesting question as it is dependent on so many factors. Some factors to consider are:

  • The cost of the paper towels.
  • Efficiency of the dispenser or hand dryer.
  • Maintenance & installation costs involved.
  • And of course electricity costs.

This means to do a firm calculation is very difficult. It has that hand dryers are slightly more cost efficient than paper towels over a 1-year period however, hand dryers can also be a very costly upfront investment. Individuals also often overlook the cost of instalment and monthly / yearly maintenance.

We recommend you talk to your supplier to find a solution that helps you get the most efficient and cost-effective solution for your washroom.

If you’re looking to evaluate your washroom facilities, it might seem like you have to change your existing systems altogether. In fact, sometimes it’s possible to integrate a new cost-effective solution with existing dispensers. This was something we recently experienced when working on a large care home project.”

But… What About The Environmental Impact Of Paper Towel Use?

“There are many arguments stating that paper towels are not sustainable because of the paper waste. This is because not all paper towels are disposed of responsibly. Paper towels are biodegradable so offer little hazard to the environment when disposed of properly. We recommend putting paper towels in general household waste as they shouldn’t be mixed with clean paper - this will reduce unnecessary wastage.

Paper hand towels can also be composted to help ensure your washroom is waste-free and additionally, to minimize the environmental effects. Paper towels can also be sustainably sourced or made from recycled materials.

Whilst some argue the carbon footprint of a paper towel is higher than hand dryers this is an unsubstantiated claim. When you consider over all electricity is generated still in the UK using fossil fuels that helps to put perspective on it.”

Which Method is More Effective at Stopping the Spread of Covid?

“According to UK researchers from the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, disposable paper towels are recognised as being the quickest and most effective way of removing residual moisture that may allow the transmission of microorganisms and reduce the risk of coronavirus contamination.

have also shown that average surface contamination following hand contact is more than 10 times higher after jet air dryer versus paper towel use. They also noted their findings had particular importance because there had been a general move from paper towels to hand dryers in many settings. This was despite both NHS guidance and World Health Organization hand washing guidelines recommending use of a paper towel to dry hands.”

What Type of Paper Towel Should Schools & Businesses be Using?

“For optimum performance the fold of the towel is nearly more important than the ply. Recycled paper towels whilst they may not feel so luxurious are more resilient when wet meaning you can reduce number of plys within the towel.

Dependent on the area, you may also want to consider a centerfeed dispenser. It’s worth reviewing this with your supplier before making a decision.

In summary, we suggest you talk to your supplier to review your current paper usage and products. It doesn’t mean you will have to change your dispensers as there are product ranges that could fit with your current solution.

Trade Frog work closely with its network to offer advice and competitive rates on paper toweling products for all industries and have years of experience in washroom facility hygiene. Paper Plus are part of our network and we look forward to supporting more schools with their supply needs.”

Thank you to Trade Frog who beautifully explained the benefits of paper towels in school washroom facilities, especially in today’s climate. I think we’ll all be thinking a little differently when drying out hands next time.

Get in touch today to find out more about the paper products we can provide to your school.

















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