Paper or Air? Which is Best For You?

When it comes to drying hands, which is the best option for your facility? There have been numerous studies that provide pros and cons to both air dryers and paper towels.  Different facilities have different needs so it is important to evaluate the differences each approach can offer.

(image: paper vs. air dryer)

Paper Towels: More Effective!

The Mayo Clinic released a study in 2012 which concluded paper towels dry hands more effectively, remove bacteria more efficiently, and cause less contamination when compared to air dryers. 

The study also noted the friction of drying hands with paper towels helps to further dislodge bacteria and leaves hands cleaner.

In high traffic restrooms, paper towels avoid the traffic jam that occurs at the air dryer, as only one person can dry their hands at a time.  While waiting, patrons are either dripping water on the floor, or waiting by a sink, causing a back-up by the basins.

While some studies show paper towels are better at removing bacteria from hands, there was another study finding bacteria on unused paper towels, with recycled paper towels harboring up to 1,000-fold more bacteria compared to a virgin wood pulp brand.  It is interesting to note the study did not find any illness caused by these contaminated paper towels, or that any bacteria became airborne during use.

Air Dryers: No Refills!

There are two different types of air dryers: the high-speed “hands-in” dryers and the warm air, lower speed “hands-under” design.  Although more expensive as an initial investment, once an air dryer is installed, there is minimal maintenance. Basically, the ongoing cost is just for the energy used to power the dryers.

After installation of air dryers, there is no more worrying about re-stocking towels, battery replacement, paper thrown on the floor, clogged toilets from flushing towels, and frequent emptying of trash receptacles. 

However, there is evidence air dryers contribute to the spread of illness.  A study conducted by the University of Westminster showed high-speed “jet” air dryers dispersed 190 times more viruses (measured at nine different distances) as compared to paper towels. 

Additionally, high-speed dryers can cause water pooling under the dryer, creating a slip & fall risk, as the air blows water beyond the dryer housing.

Wondering which is best for your facility? Call us today at 800.933.4824 for our real-world experience and professional advice on what is best for your needs.

Fitch Co |  2201 Russell Street | P: 800.933.4824 | F: 401.727.2244 | |