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simonhaskell

28 May 2019, 20:12

Paper Towels Vs Hand Dryers


It’s a surprisingly old debate - is it better to dry your hands with hand dryers or paper towels after visiting the toilet?

The argument has been raging since the first ‘drying apparatus’ hit the restrooms of New York way back in 1922.

And it’s now back in the news since a recent Guardian Long Read highlighted the issue. But that is indeed a long read. A very, very long read, in fact...

So, here is our concise TLDR version of the pros and cons of the decade’s old hand dryer vs paper towel debate...

Hand Dryers

Whether it’s an old-fashioned hand dryer with the familiar hot-air downward-facing spout or a new-fangled jet-air futuristic-looking type, here are some of the pros and cons of using this method to get your hands dry:

The Pros

  • Newer models are getting quicker at getting hands dry
  • There is some evidence that they are better for the environment
  • No need to keep emptying the bin of paper towels
  • Can look more stylish and modern, impressing office visitors
  • Ongoing costs are relatively low

The Cons

  • Older models can take a long time to dry your hands, meaning people might not wait to dry their hands thoroughly - if at all...
  • Increase the number of all types of bacteria, according to some studies
  • Can be an initially-expensive outlay
  • If it breaks down, you’ll need to get someone out to fix it
  • Some people complain of ‘noise pollution’ with hand dryers

Paper Towels

Surprisingly only fifteen years older than that first ever ‘drying apparatus’ invented in the Big Apple, here are some pros and cons of using paper towels to dry your hands:

The Pros

  • Easy and efficient, which means they are more likely to be put to use
  • They can get hands dry up to 4 times quicker than hand dryers
  • Reduce the number of all types of bacteria, according to some studies
  • In surveys, 3 in 4 people say they prefer paper towels to hand dryers
  • You can now source more eco-friendly paper towels than you could a few years ago
  • Can be used to carry out other hygienic tasks, like turning off taps and opening doors

The Cons

  • Standard paper towels are not as eco-friendly as hand dryers (according to some reports)
  • You have to rely on staff to dispose of paper towels without leaving a mess
  • Recurring costs can add up

In Conclusion

There are pros and cons to both paper towels and hand dryers, and, as alluded to above - and as the Guardian article points out (in more detail) - a lot of the studies which have been done seem either inconclusive, biased - or both.

On balance, it seems to us that after washing your hands thoroughly, paper towels are still the most effective way to get them dry and leave those nasty germs behind.

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