When people think about comparing the difference between hand dryers and paper towels, they often think about the effect that they have on the environment. In this case, then hand dryers come out on top because they are the greener solution. However, in terms of how clean they get your hands, the choice may not be so clear cut. In terms of cleanliness, new high speed dryers would seem to be the best choice.
High Speed Dryers Vs. Paper Towels
The levels of bacteria on high speed hand dryers and hand towel cranks were tested in public bathrooms on campus as part of a study by the University of Sussex in 2014. This study showed that when compared with traditional air dryers and the cranks on the paper towel dispenser, high-powered dryers left hands six times cleaner. The reason for this is that these dryers use the speed of the air rather than heat to dry hands, and heat can promote the growth of bacteria.
Traditional Dryers Vs. Paper Towels
In many bathrooms, you will only find a traditional dryer, not a high speed one. In this case you only have the choice between paper towels and a more traditional dryer. Queensland University in Australia conducted a review of all data that had been collected from 1970 on wards, and this review indicated that paper towels were the better option because the friction created from rubbing your hands with paper towels can help to remove bacteria. This study is considered to be one of the most valid that has been carried out on this subject because of all the data that was analysed.
What Should You Do?
You certainly do not want your hands to become covered in bacteria again just after you have washed them, but this can happen depending on the method you choose for drying your hands. You should always go for the high-speed dryers when available because this method does not require you to touch anything and there is no hot air involved. If you only have the choice between an old fashioned dryer and paper towels, then towels will be the best choice, and it is even better if you can avoid using the crank. It is probably best to avoid old fashioned hand dryers altogether and let your hands dry off on their own.