The case for ditching your hand dryer in favor of paper towels is growing. A new study confirmed the results of previous research that found using disposable paper towels reduces the germs on your hands much more significantly than if you use an electric hand dryer. The most recent information looked at 12 previous studies and found that the rubbing motion of drying with paper towels helps reduce germs. Additionally, paper towels dry your hands more quickly and many people just don’t wait long enough under hand dryers for them to work. That means you have less time to transfer germs onto wet hands. Previous studies have also found that bacteria tend to live inside electric hand dryers so when you turn them on, all of those germs get spewed out onto your hands and into the air.
In addition to reducing the spread of germs by not having an air source to blow them around, many people also use their paper towels to prevent touching things after they wash their hands. That includes grabbing an extra towel to turn off the faucet or open the bathroom door. Customers like that option and having the ability to even further reduce germs on their hands.
An issue that comes up a lot with hand drying is that people don’t consider the use of paper towels “green.” I am not going to argue the fact that paper towels do produce waste. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
- Electric dryers aren’t really “green” either. They use electricity, oftentimes more than people realize.
- You can reduce paper towel waste by using higher quality paper towels. Invest in paper towels that are thicker (2-ply) and not too small in size. The better the quality towel, the better it will dry hands and the fewer towels your customers need to use.
- Consider your dispenser. Certain paper towel dispensers can only use single ply or small sheets of paper towel, so your customers will use more. Choosing a dispenser that can handle higher-quality towels will help you with step two.
- Consider composting. I realize this might not be practical for all businesses. However, if you can, set aside a separate bin for paper towels only. Find a group in your community or find out if your city government offers any kind of compost pickup or help. In that case, you fill up the bins and they do all of the work. Additionally, many restaurants are beginning their own composting programs as a way to reduce food waste. If you’re already composting on your own, add some towels to the mix.