Hand Dryer vs Paper Towel- Who Wins the Battle?

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On a normal basis, if we think about this, it undoubtedly seems like a comically monotonous topic to be studied. But when we dive deeper into the issue of hand hygiene and the importance of drying hands after washing, this debate becomes critical and discussion-worthy. Although the hand dryer vs paper towel debate has been out there since a very long time, the preference remains a purely personal choice. However, what’s important is the fact that people might not have enough knowledge to know whether they are opting for the right option or not.

hand dryer vs paper towel
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When we think of paper towels, we think of them as something that is not environment friendly and hence should be avoided. On the other hand, blow dryers come with the self-congratulatory signs, which showcase them as an environment- friendly option. Such arguments increase the scepticism and make this debate even more complicated. Let us look at some factors that will help us resolve the hand dryer vs paper towel battle.

Hand Dryer vs Paper Towel

Most restrooms offer three types of hand drying products: paper towels, air dryers and jet dryers. Before going further, let us decide what all criteria are we going to base this comparison on. Sometimes it’s not the products, it’s the people who use them. A study by Michigan State University proved that over 95% of people do not wash their hands the right way and for the right amount of time due to which harmful bacteria multiples on their hands and cause infections.

Paper Towels

Though most of the studies supporting paper towel use are sponsored by the paper towel industry itself, other research studies offer more detailed and less biased insights.  For example, Westminster study concluded that the use of paper towels is a very effective way to control the spread of germs after hand wash. Paper towels installed in restrooms can also be used to turn off the faucet post hand wash.

hand dryer vs paper towel

Paper towels are very hygienic for our surroundings. Rubbing hands properly with a paper towel kills all the germs and avoids further spreading of bacteria. Paper towels are faster and noise-free. 2012 systematic review revealed that paper towels dry hands faster and more effectively.

The only myth that has kept paper towels from being the most desirable method for hand drying is the notion of them not being eco-friendly and the problem of waste management. But let us break this myth for you here and now. Automatic paper dispensing machines that sense hands and give out an appropriate length of paper suitable enough to dry the hands is a very effective choice. Further, the used paper can be recycled and reused causing no harm to the environment.

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The flip side-  However, an average office restroom could indeed use about 702,000 paper towels per year, which can cost a minimum of  £2106. This makes paper towels an expensive choice compared to energy-efficient hand dryers that will use a total of about 1170 kW/hour of energy per year which means a maximum expenditure of £140.40 per year. Noticeable difference indeed!

Hand Dryers

Not all air blowers are made equal. Many companies make powerful hand dryer machines that are capable of killing germs faster than any other similar product. Hand dryers are surely a good pick for people who are concerned about minimizing carbon footprints or looking for cost-effective solutions.

hand dryer vs paper towel

An average air dryer can take up to one minute for thorough drying of hands. But studies have revealed that maximum people spent just 22.5 seconds under the air dryers, leading to damp and unhygienic hands even after washing.

Hand dryers also save the time staff would otherwise spend on keeping paper towels in place. Also, imagine an empty paper towel dispenser. It’s nothing but a bed for germs and bacteria to breed as people will leave the washroom without drying their hands or wiping them off with their clothes.

Though some research has called Jet air dryers to be a health hazard, they have not looked into all the varieties of hand- dryers available in the market. People are quickly switching to hand-dryers from paper towels at all type of places such as schools, restaurants, public washrooms, etc Though hot-air dryers might not be a perfect choice, the new variety of hand dryers are a huge hit in the market. They use the latest technology and are very efficient at doing what they are made to do.

Final thoughts

The no-touch automatic paper towel dispensers and the recycle and reuse options have completely turned the game in the favour of paper towels. 

But what turned the table is the study on how environment friendly can recycled paper towels be? It was found that most environment-friendly paper towels had the same impact on the environment like the regular paper towels. The total landfill of US has 2% of just paper towels in it.

If your insights and priorities are more inclined towards sustainable development, then hand dryers might be a good option for you. Because hands are being washed with soap, the chances of bacteria being alive reduce drastically. The most efficient hand-dryers can help reduce the consumption of energy, noise-related issues, as well as the amount of money spent on the maintenance of hygiene, in the restrooms.

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