Hand Dryers and Paper Towels Found Equally Safe

23 studies conclude: Hand dryers prove as healthy and safe as other drying methods.


So, how often should you change your car’s oil? If you said 3,000 miles, you most likely believe that number is accurate thanks to relentless advertising from the oil industry. To this day, many quick-service auto centers suggest you should change your oil every 3,000 miles.


But the problem is, even car manufacturers typically recommend 5,000-7,000 miles as an oil-change interval—a fact that caused many “fast-lube guys” to adjust their marketing claims. Moral of the story: investigate where information comes from before you make your final decision.


The same type of misleading information is currently circulating regarding hand-drying. Sensational articles with clickbait headlines feature misleading, unsubstantiated and negative information surrounding hand dryers and COVID-19. But take a closer look. Most of the articles are based on biased—and faulty—research funded by the paper towel industry. That’s why a recent “study of the studies” is so valuable. Now, the truth has emerged.


A research team from the University of Arizona conducted an exhaustive two-year review to uncover which hand-drying method—air hand-dryers or paper towels—is more hygienic and safer relative to human infection risks. This comprehensive study, considered the most comprehensive review of its kind, included currently available data, published studies, news reports and online content. Amazingly, their work, published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, revealed only 23 of nearly 300 studies originally considered were worthy of further examination.


Researchers dug a little deeper and found that, while each of the 23 studies generally favored paper towels over hand dryers, the conclusions are largely misleading and unsubstantiated. So, what was the ultimate verdict? One clear conclusion was reached: Dry your hands with paper towels or hand dryers—because they’re equally hygienic.


In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, hand hygiene is a frequently covered topic in the media. Media reports often tantalize with sensational headlines designed to attract attention and viewership. But, while these headlines may increase traffic, they can overgeneralize or exaggerate research results. Much like the oil-change conundrum, consumers may be swayed by false information.


This investigation “clears the air” with certainty. In fact, several recent statements and studies from the world’s foremost health authorities substantiate the real story. The Mayo Clinic stated, “…there is no difference in bacteria counts when drying with paper towels or hand dryers.” And, the World Health Organization added, “We have no evidence that hand dryers are spreading the coronavirus…”


With hand hygiene playing a life-and-death role during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to understand the complete story about hand dryers and paper towels.


Science has proven that touchless, 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 option, as well.

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