It may sound strange, but until the middle of the nineteenth century, hand hygiene wasn’t considered particularly important in prevention of infectious diseases. Modern times, of course, brought full awareness of the importance of clean hands for our health. Recent studies go into more details and show that hand drying plays is among the crucial factors in keeping hands germ-free. Bacteria love moist atmosphere, which is why properly dry hands significantly slow them down.
It is an established fact that combining warm water and soap is the most effective way to wash hands. When it comes to drying them, however, the answer might not be as clear. Hand driers and cloth towels are both present in establishments all around the world
So, Which Is The Better Solution?
Fortunately some bright sparks out there have put in the hard work needed to provide us with some answers.
After undertaking a number of studies, researchers at the University of Westminster have shown that warm air hand dryers actually increase the amount of bacteria on users’ hands, while cloth towels decreases the number of bacteria on users’ hands after use.
Continuous cloth towel dispensers act to isolate bacteria, with the used section of towel encased in a dispenser, where it remains undisturbed until it is time to remove the towel roll for cleaning. Warm air hand dryers, on the other hand, not only increase bacterial contamination of hands but also spread contamination by blowing bacteria up to a 2-metre radius from the dryer.
Then there’s the environmental aspect: continuous cloth towel doesn’t require electricity so it definitely beats the air hand dryer there. Furthermore, given that cloth towel is cleaned and reused around 100 times, production costs are lower overall, while the fact that they are recycled as wash cloths lessens the environmental impact.2
This brief analysis obviously shows that cloth towels are a better solution, even though they tend to be considered old fashioned.
If you still have doubts on whether to pick one solution or the other, feel free to call Alsco, whose experienced professionals are sure to suggest the best solution for your particular needs.
- ‘A comparative study of three different hand drying methods: paper towel, warm air dryer, jet air dryer’ by Keith Redway and Shameem Fawdar of the School of Biosciences, University of Westminster London.
- ‘Life Cycle Analysis’ study undertaken in 2006 by The Öko-Institut, Germany on behalf of the European Textile Service Association (E.T.S.A)