Drying hands is an necessary part of the hand hygiene process as washing hands is not enough to prevent infections or stop them until you dry your hands after each wash.
But the debate is over the most effective way of drying hands in washrooms.A research suggests paper towels are more hygienic than the electric hand dryers .
In 2008, a study was carried by the University of Westminster London, to compare the levels of hygiene provided by paper towels, warm air hand dryers and the more modern jet-air hand dryers.
The key findings were:
1.After washing and drying hands with the warm air dryer, the total number of bacteria was found to increase on average on the finger pads by 194% and on the palms by 254%
2.After washing and drying hands with the jet air dryer resulted in an increase on average of the total number of bacteria on the finger pads by 42% and on the palms by 15%
3.After washing and drying hands with a paper towel, the total number of bacteria was reduced on average on the finger pads by upto 76% and on the palms by up to 77%.
The scientists also carried out tests to see whether there was the possibility for cross contamination of other washroom users and the washroom environment as a result each type of drying method.
They found that:
1.The jet air dryer, which blows air out of the unit at claimed speeds of 400 mph, was capable of blowing micro-organisms from the hands and the unit and potentially contaminating other washroom users and the washroom environment up to 2 metres away.
2.Warm air hand dryer spread micro-organisms up to 0.25 metres from the dryer.
3.Paper towels showed no significant spread of micro-organisms.
This shows that the use of a paper towel is the best and the most safest method for drying hands.