A Hands Down Winner in the Battle Between Air Dryers and Paper Towels

Industry News

Historically, hygiene has always played a major role in keeping the entire planet healthy. Now, as the world is dealing with a health crisis, this is truer than ever. In keeping with its “All clean.

All good.” vision, Cascades continues to set the bar for efficient cleanliness. With that in mind, if you’ve always used restroom air dryers at your workplace or out in public and felt this was perfectly healthy…brace yourself. This news may come as a blow.

Regarding the age-old conundrum between air dryers and paper towels, the case is now closed. A study by the University of Leeds (U.K.) published in the Journal of Hospital Infection found that paper towels were more hygienic than hand dryers. The levels of airborne germ counts near warm air dryers were found to be 27 times those near paper towel dispensers.

To perform their study, the Leeds researchers deliberately contaminated willing participants’ hands with Lactobacillis, tame bacteria that’s also not typically found in bathrooms. This was done to better illustrate cause and effect – and the effect was quite lingering. In fact, 48% of the bacteria was collected more than five minutes after the dryers stopped.

Mark Wilcox, a professor of medical microbiology at the university, was clear in his assessment: “I believe that the results of our work mean that electric dryers should ideally not be installed in settings where microbe transmission is a greater risk, e.g. hospitals, cruise ships, etc.”

Wilcox headed up a similar study with similar conclusions that was conducted in Germany on behalf of Eurofins, a conglomeration of international laboratories servicing the food, pharmaceutical, environmental and consumer products industries, in partnership with Inlab, one of its members. The Eurofins/Inlab study determined that aerobic bacteria counts located on the floors below jet air dryers were 20 times higher than in the spaces below hand towel dispensers. Observed counts of Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause a wide range of diseases, roughly mirrored the results.

These studies are part of a litany of undeniable scientific evidence similarly supporting the value of paper towels over air dryers. Consider these corroborating findings:

-London-based Westminster University compared the drying efficiency and bacterial contamination of electric dryers with that of hand towels. When participants used paper towels as their hand-drying method, the number of bacteria reductions ranged from –44.6% to –91.5% for finger pads and from –32.8% to –85.2% for palms. Conversely, warm air dryers increased bacteria from +114.1% to +414% for finger pads and from +230.4% to +478.8% for palms. What’s more, the study found levels of pathogenic bacteria contaminating these devices and noted that jet air dryers are capable of spraying microorganisms as far away as 9.8 feet.

-The popular Discovery Channel show Mythbusters took up the same issue a couple of years ago. Safe amounts of E. coli were applied to the fronts and backs of willing participants’ hands, and participants were asked to properly wash them with soap and water before drying them with both hand towels and air dryers. The study found paper towels to be preferable, helping to kill more than 70% of germs.

-Finally, a paper published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings that reported research from a dozen investigations — that’s right, 12 separate studies — held that “from a hygiene standpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers” and “should be recommended in locations where hygiene is paramount, such as hospitals and clinics.”

Clearly, as a manufacturer of paper towels, among other products, Cascades puts its faith in paper towels. We inform our customers about their value. We take note when top authorities such as the World Health Organization recommend them as the preferred drying method.

We have also invested heavily in developing breakthrough hand-drying tools to bring about major public health improvements. What’s more, we listened and paid attention to what individuals thought when there were multiple options available for their drying needs. Nearly two thirds of those surveyed (62%) preferred paper hand towels. Some 59% of respondents said the traditional electric dryer is their least favorite method of hand drying, often losing points due to its slowness and lack of efficiency.

Research finding after research finding + recommendations from the World Health Oganization + consumer preferences. They all lead to an inevitable conclusion…

It’s game, set and match in the great debate between air dryers and paper towels.

Which dispenser in our offer best answers to your need?

Source: Cascades PRO