Hand Dryer Hygiene - Is it Working for You or Against You?

by Lawton Brothers | Jan 28, 2020


There are multiple ways to dry one’s hands; from paper towels and cloth towels to warm and cold air hand dryers. One method of drying hands interests us the most; hand dryers. You see every business using them and it seems as though everyone loves them or do they?  

At Lawton Brothers, we have a couple of questions about hand dryers: 

Are hand dryers working for you or against you?

  1. Are they more efficient, good for the environment or are they less efficient, unsanitary and bad for the environment?
  2. Do you like to use hand dryers?

Continue to read on to learn more about the pros and cons of hand dryers, what experts are saying and how to choose the best hand drying method that suits your goals and needs. 


No matter what side you are on (paper products vs. hand dryers), there are pros and cons lists as long as our arms, along with research backing up each side’s claims. We are here to discuss some of the pros and cons of hand dryers. 


Empty dispensers: In busy facilities it can be challenging to keep paper towel dispensers stocked. As long as you have power the dryer is good. 

Vandalism: In some types of facilities this can be an issue. Either vandals are de-facing or breaking the dispensers or they are using the towels to clog the toilets. 

Environmentally-Friendly & Cost-Effective: Many believe that hand dryers are environmentally-friendly because it decreases the number of paper products used. According to a cost-benefit analysis, hand dryers will pay for themselves in an average of seven months because of how long they last (seven to ten years). 


Unsanitary (Spread of Bacteria): In a study conducted by the University of Westminister, hand drying methods were tested, including two types of paper towels, warm air dryer, and Jet Air Dryer. Of these types of hand drying methods, paper towels produced fewer bacteria on the hands than that of the warm air dryer and Jet Air Dryer. It was also found that at least six species of gut bacteria were isolated from the air flows of 63% of dryers tested, which indicated possible fecal contamination (disease-causing pathogens). 

“Based on these results, the use of Warm Air Dryers and Jet Air Dryers should be carefully considered in locations where hygiene is paramount, such as hospitals, clinics, schools, nurseries, care homes, kitchens and other food preparation areas.” - the overall conclusion of the University of Westminister.    

In an article by Johnnie Deon Green from Food Safety Magazine, he states, “Wet hands readily transfer pathogens to food, utensils and other surfaces. Eliminate all blow dryer systems from employee handwash stations. Research has demonstrated hot air drying is counter to good hand hygiene practices. Select and install single-use paper towels that deliver soft, fast, one-sheet drying results,” and went on to say, “Ignoring handwashing as a priority is easy until a company is faced with a crippling outbreak of foodborne illness.” 

Inefficient: Depending on the type of hand dryer you have purchased, it could be ineffective for your needs. A slow running hand dryer will require a longer dry time, creating a line during busier times, which will result in not fully dried hands (a breeding ground for bacteria). 

According to the World Health Organization Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care, “In a comparison of methods to test the efficiency of hand drying for removing bacteria from washed hands, warm air drying performed worse than drying with paper towels. Furthermore, air dryers may be less recommendable because of the longer time needed to achieve dry hands, with a possible negative impact on hand hygiene compliance, and because of the aerosolization of waterborne pathogens.” 

Noise Pollution: Some hand dryers can, unfortunately, be noisy. This contributes to noise pollution and could potentially annoy those using the machine. 


There are many factors you should think about when choosing between a hand dryer and paper products, including: 

  1. What is the short-term and long-term cost associated with hand dryers or paper products?
  2. How unhygienic is the hand dryer or its alternative?
  3. What is the environment I am choosing the hand dryer or paper product for?
  4. What level of noise is my customers or clients willing to put up with?
  5. How convenient are hand dryers versus its alternative? 


At Lawton Brothers, we don’t want to pick sides. Our goal is to help our customers find the best hand drying product that will suit their business’s goals and needs. If you would like to talk more about the pros and cons of hand dryers and alternative hand drying methods, please give our representative a call today: 800-432-0813.

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