Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ditch the hand dryer: Paper towels are MORE hygienic because they remove more germs

  • Study found paper towels are more efficient because they dry hands quicker and prevent transfer of germs
  • Paper towels also physically remove bacteria
  • Previous studies have found that dryers harbour microbes and can blast germs into atmosphere
By Daily Mail Reporter

Scientists have worked out the best way to dry your hands – and paper towels win, erm, hands down!

It appears that paper towels not only dry hands quicker than electric driers, they are also more hygienic.

While the importance of washing hands is obvious, the benefits may be undone if they are not dried properly, experts said.

Looks can be deceiving: Despite having a reputation for being messy, hand towels are more hygienic than dryers because they dry hands more quickly and physically remove germs
Looks can be deceiving: Despite their reputation for being messy, hand towels are more hygienic than dryers because they physically remove germs

This is because wet hands are better at passing on germs than dry ones, biomedical scientist Cunrui Huang said.
His review of 12 studies found that, overall, paper towels were ‘superior’. One study found they leave hands 96 per cent dry after just ten seconds. After 15 seconds, the hands are 99 per cent dry.

By contrast, a drier takes at least 45 seconds. The amount of time is important because most people spend only a few seconds on drying their hands.

One study found men spend 17 seconds using hot-air driers and women 13.3 seconds – a fraction of the time needed.

Paper towels also scored higher because the rubbing motion may physically remove germs.
Previous studies have found that hand dryers harbour bacteria and can blast germs into the atmosphere promoting infection
Previous studies have found that hand dryers harbour bacteria and can blast germs into the atmosphere and promote infection
By contrast, air driers may blow them on to the body – a concern in public toilets, where regular flushing of cisterns disperses germs in the air.

'This can increase the number of germs by an astonishing 255 per cent,' said Keith Redway, senior academic in Microbiology and Molecular Biology at Westminster University.

Bacteria are then blown on to the hands of users and into the atmosphere.
This leads to the potential for the spread of organisms such as salmonella and E. coli, as people often dry their hands before cleaning them properly.

In the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal, Dr Huang, of the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, said: ‘There is a risk of persons standing at air driers acquiring the bacteria dispersed in the air current towards them.’

Scientists say that whatever drying method you use, it is important to wash hands thoroughly. They added that there is no need to use an antibacterial soap unless in special situations such as in hospital
Scientists say that it is important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap before drying them
Cloth towel rolls were marked down because of the sheer numbers of people using them.

Although antibacterial washes are essential in high-risk environments such as hospitals and beneficial on cruise ships and on planes, they are not necessary in daily life.

Previous studies have shown that hand dryers are often contaminated by bacteria in the outlet nozzle and the heat from the dryer is the perfect temperature to encourage their growth.

Keith Redway's research has shown that disposable paper towels remove 58 per cent of bugs and cotton roller-towels 45 per cent.

'The message has to be to wash and then dry your hands thoroughly, using paper towels, not the hot-air dryers, explained Redway.

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