Paper Towels (2.5 grams) Vs Hand Dryer (0.0 grams)

The age old question of what is the best way of drying hands is older than time itself, well it started with the invention of the electric hand dryer in 1948 by George Clemens.  When first analyzing this debate it seems really obvious that hand dryers clean and dry more efficiently and you don’t even have to touch anything (usually) to dry hands.  Actually its the other way around; according to ( paper towels sweep the floor when it comes to drying efficiently.

Hand Dryers

When analyzing how effective each method of drying is, you can’t just consider bacteria percentages; its much more than that.  You must consider timing, the way water is removed and overall cleanliness of the bathroom.  When I took Microbiology in my junior year of high school the first exercise we did was a lab where we learned how to wash our hands correctly and we were able to see with ultraviolet rays how well we did.  The key we learned to washing our hands was the scrubbing because it pushes bacteria off your hands.  This ultimately shows that using paper towels helps more with removal because of friction rather than just using hot air. “Many studies have found that friction is the key component in hand drying as it helps to remove contamination.” (

Besides removing more bacteria from peoples hands, paper towels are also a much quicker method when compared to a hand dryer.  After 15 seconds using a paper towel up to 99% of moisture was removed while with a hand dryer it takes 45 seconds just to remove 97% of moisture.  During hectic days no one has time to take a minute to dry hands left effectively with a hand dryer.

Lastly we consider where the bacteria from our hands go after we dry them.  With paper towels friction transfers the bacteria on to the towel and it is ultimately discarded in the trash while hand dryers blow hot air and transfer the bacteria all around the room and also spreads many of the fecal bacteria around that toilets flush up when they flush.  Overall paper towels are the superior way of drying hands but there is still a lot to consider with drying hands like cost of paper towels and the waste it produces but in this study they proved to be more effective and efficient.  And for those of you who don’t like those hand cranks for paper towels I was tought by my Microbiology teacher to crank you paper towels before you use the bathroom so after you wash your hands you don’t have to touch that surplus of bacteria.


2 thoughts on “Paper Towels (2.5 grams) Vs Hand Dryer (0.0 grams)

  1. Megan Margaret Moyer

    I have never liked using hand dryers and I refuse to use them here at school. I am a germ freak so when a paper towel is available to me, I crank the handle on the paper towel holder prior to washing my hands so that I don’t get germs back on them. I think that the hand dryers collect germs in the bathroom and just put them back on your hand when you use it. I know that paper towels aren’t the most eco or cost-friendly, but they provide as a divider between your clean hand and the door knob. I agree that the university should consider installing paper towel dispensers.

  2. Hayley Lynn Pontia

    I thought it was really interesting that paper towels are better than hand dryers due to all the other confounding variables in the experiment. It raises concern that all the bathrooms in my dorm have hand dryers instead of paper towels. The mentioned spread of germs greatly increases the chance of students getting sick, not helping with the fact that we also live very closely to one another. I think the university should consider the risks of students, before they just look at the ways they are saving money. Sometimes technology now is worse than the ways we handled something in past.

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