In order to avoid cross-contamination, it is important to exercise good hand hygiene by washing and drying your hands to perfection. In public restrooms, it is common to use an electric hand dryer system. But studies show that hand dryers spread bacteria much more than traditional paper towels.
Our hands are one of our primary tools in our daily lives – no matter what you do, your hands touch surfaces and pick up bacteria from the surroundings. Studies from University of Colorado at Boulder show that a typical hand has roughly 105 different species of bacteria living on it. By not performing hand hygiene correctly, the risk of bacterial infection or infecting others increases.
Good hand hygiene is not just a matter of your washing technique – it also depends on your hand drying methods afterwards. Dry skin is important, because not all bacteria die when you wash your hands normally with rinsing water and soap. On the contrary, dry skin inhibits bacteria from growing. By leaving the restroom with dry hands, you hereby reduce the risk of cross-contaminating other surfaces, people or yourself.
In many public restrooms, bathrooms and kitchens, electric hand dryer systems have been installed as modern and more efficient substitutes to the traditional paper towel solution. Unfortunately, the use of hand dryers has a negative consequence. Studies show that the use of hand drying systems may spread bacteria in a much bigger radius compared to the use of traditional paper towels. This means that paper towels are the best product to use in order to prevent and control infection.
Studies have examined and compared hand drying methods and their risk of contaminating the environment, users and bystanders. By making a count of bacteria in the air after the of an electric hand dryer and paper towels respectively, the results show a big contamination of the surroundings of the hand dryer system compared to the use of traditional paper towels:
The overall conclusion from a variety of studies is that hand dryers disperse bacteria in a much higher range compared to the use of paper towels. This may cause cross-contamination to the environment or the restroom visitors. The use of hand dryers can be problematic in many industries, where it is important to manage effective infection prevention. This includes hospitals, where weak patients can be infected or in restaurants, cafés or cafeterias where bacteria can be transmitted to foods and servings.
Moreover, WHO (World Health Organization) recommends using single use towels and paper towels as the the most hygienic choice.
If you wish to avoid bacteria dispersing, paper towels are a good product to choose. Besides being a hygienic choice, single use paper towels are the end users preferred hand drying method.
The European Tissue Paper Association (ETS) - has observed and asked almost 4.000 persons about their preferred hand drying method. The study shows that 90 percent of the men and 91 percent of the women asked prefer using paper towels rather than electric hand dryers.
Another great argument for choosing the paper towel solution is that it is easy to start and to maintain. If you do not have a paper towel solution in your restroom, kitchen or other places, where hand hygiene is important, you only have to consider 2 parameters:
1. Paper quality
Paper comes in many qualities which primarily have an effect on the suction capability of the paper. High quality paper is often more expensive than low quality paper. Thus, it has in general a greater suction capability, which often result in minor consumption. Hereby, a higher quality paper choice can be more economic in the long run. Do you wish to create or sustain a green profile, you should consider choosing sustainable paper towels with environmental certification as well.
2. Selection of dispenser
A hygienic use of paper towels requires a good dispenser solution. Dispensers come in many shapes and colors and can hold different types of papers. Do you want to use paper towel sheets, selecting a dispenser with an opening that only releases one sheet at the time can be an economic and sustainable choice to make. Another great tip is to consider the design of your dispenser. Many dispensers are designed with a transparent window at front, which makes it easy to follow the consumption. This makes the cleaning procedure more effective by knowing when to fill your dispenser.
Good kitchen hygiene: The kitchen is a particularly important place to follow strict protocol. For health care professionals and caregivers, extra care and attention to hand hygiene and disinfection should be paid to avoid diseases such as listeria.
Practice proper hand hygiene especially after patient contact or use of the bathroom. Check out our guidelines for hand hygiene and find out why personal hygiene is essential in infection prevention [link to personal hygiene]