Study finds paper towels more hygienic than hand dryers

Previous studies have found that dryers harbor microbes, can blast germs into atmosphere

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DETROIT – It is more hygienic to dry your hands with paper towel than an electric dryer, according to a new study.

Researchers discovered that paper towels are more germ efficient because they work more quickly than hot air, and physically remove germs from your hands.

The transfer of germs is more likely from wet hands than dry hands, says Dr. Cunrui Huang of Queensland University of Technology.

"A hand dryer takes 30 seconds longer to achieve about the same dryness as a towel. This is important because most people spend less than 20 seconds drying their hands," Dr. Huang said. "It is likely that paper towels also work better because they physically remove bacteria from the hands, whereas hot air dryers and jet air dryers cannot."

Effective hand washing is also key because it helps stop germs from spreading from one person to another. Although washes are essential in high-risk germ environments such as hospitals and beneficial in public places, they are not always needed in daily life.

Previous studies indicate that hand dryers are often contaminated by bacteria on the nozzle, and the heat from the dryer is perfect to encourage their growth.

"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.

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

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content manager for WDIV/ He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter.