Are Hand Dryers Cleaner Than Paper Towels?


In a case study published by Excel Dryer, Northwestern Memorial Hospital launched a major hand-washing campaign in 2010. Aimed at employees, patients and visitors, the campaign urged people to wash their hands regularly because 80% of infections are transmitted by touch.

This wasn’t an easy task: two-thirds of Americans fall short on hand washing, the hospital concluded. Meanwhile, the hospital was refurbishing its buildings including the restrooms where paper towels were in use.

Because the paper towels were creating plumbing problems for the cleaning staff, hospital administrators began a process of evaluating hand dryers as an alternative. In a hospital, of course, hygiene is the number one concern.

Evaluating Commercial Hand Dryers for Hospitals

Northwestern’s facilities managers evaluated hand dryers carefully because proper hand hygiene is among the most important steps hospital staff can take to prevent the spread of infections. They reviewed scientific literature that validated the hygienic safety of heated air for hand drying.

For example, they noted that in 2000, Dr. Franklin R. Cockerill III and his colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., conducted a randomized trial to determine the effects of four hand-drying methods for removing bacteria from washed hands. In the year-long study of 100 people who volunteered to have their hands contaminated with bacteria, researchers found that hand washing got rid of the same number of germs regardless of drying style.

Still, hospital facilities managers realized that not all hand dryers are the same. The hospital concluded that traditional hand dryers with high-velocity heated air streams were the most hygienic options. By contrast, they were concerned that trough-style dryers could catch and hold water or other foreign objects such as hair a gum that could create breeding grounds for bacteria.

Because of their meticulous review, the hospital purchased 100 XLERATOR high-speed, energy efficienthand dryers. These units dry hands in 10 seconds and can achieve a 95% cost saving over paper towels. (You can read the full case study here

Hand Dryers: Cleaner for the Environment

When we wonder whether hand dryers are cleaner than paper towels, we should also consider the environmental impacts of both.

In a recent article by Simon Lockrey from RMIT University, researchers compared high-speed dryers such as XLERATOR with paper towels and conventional electrical hand dryers.

“Overall, these life cycle studies found that using a high-speed dryer reduced environmental impacts markedly,” Lockrey writes. “This included global warming potential, land use, water use, solid waste, ecosystem quality, and embodied energy when compared with conventional dryers and paper towels.”

You can read the full article here .

Newton Distributing Company specializes in innovative restroom products that reduce costs and your carbon footprint. Our building specialty and restroom products will ensure a profitable establishment that encourages hygiene and environmental gain.

Please contact our experts at 877-796-0967 to make your company more efficient and profitable. We will be your choice resource for the best practices in planning, designing, building and maintaining facilities that are vital to the success of your enterprise.

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