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Hand Dryers and Hygiene – Facts are Helping

This post has been originally published by Intelligient Hand Dryers earlier this year. It wants to address several aspects of the dabate:

  • Highlight why the paper towel industry is concerned about hand dryers
  • Give reason why lazy journalism and fake news needs to be scrutinised for allowing such meaningless propaganda to enter mainstream media outlets

  • Show you a couple of videos and other insights explaining why there is no need to be scared of using a hand dryer after reviews of the scientific research
  • Provide scientific evidence that adds balanced perspective to the paper towel and hand dryer germ debate
  • Explain why washing the hands properly and then drying the hands thoroughly, whatever the method of choice, is key to keeping things hygienic
  • Provide you with the history of how the hand dryer has developed to improve hand hygiene in the washroom


There is certainly a need to question whether hand dryers are hygienic and if there is a safer way to dry the hands.  Especially because there seems to be constant scaremongering in the press aimed at why hand dryers are unsanitary, usually stirred up from paper towel manufacturers if you peek beneath the surface of the hype.

But are paper towels hygienic? This is something that doesn’t get a lot of media attention yet there are studies conducted on paper towels from independent sources which have found that paper towels and their dispensers harbour a significant amount of bacteria and pathogens.

Why wouldn’t they, they’re not made in sterile areas and they live in the same washrooms hand dryers do.  Neither is a harmful method of drying as you will read below, yet it doesn’t follow logic that paper towels can be considered a more sterile and hygienic choice over hand dryers.

So, is this just a case of large, powerful businesses trying to manipulate public decision to keep its revenue streams flowing, even if it means manipulating the “facts” and peddling headlines and stories that are not in the public’s best interest?

First of all, hand dryers or paper towels? Which is better?

This post is not here to slate paper towels in general although we will be biased to some degree of course.  The type of method used will be dependent upon the location and the unique requirements of the end user. We are just highlighting the point that hand dryers are getting a bad press due to the only way paper towel manufacturers can get at them.  By scaremongering and promoting germs.  We have already shown in our comparison of paper towels vs hand dryers here that when comparing the 2 methods:

  1. Hand dryers are significantly cheaper to run year on year and can save substantial amounts of money compared to yearly costs of paper towels.
  2. The most important aspect of hand hygiene is the hand washing process to actually remove germs, then making sure they are fully dry before touching anything else.  Whichever method you use as long as they dry, then that’s the main point
  3. Paper towels create zero noise so are perfect for inside school classrooms and any other locations that require very low noise levels
  4. Paper towels are not good for the environment, creating a massive amount of carbon to produce, and they cannot be recycled and mostly end up in landfill

Paper towel companies know the above can be proven through science and mathematical calculations, so continue to run with trying to discredit hand dryers as being a disaster to public health.  But as you will read, if you actually look between the lines and get all the evidence available, there is no real difference between paper towels and hand dryers when it comes to hygiene.

Why is the paper towel industry concerned and why choose hygiene?

The concerns

People are becoming increasing aware of the impact paper has on the environment including manufacturing, transporting, replenishing and disposing of.

Hand dryers used to be very inefficient.  Now they are comparable on dry times with paper towels.  Once they are installed there is no constant source of revenue for the paper towel industry.

The growth of hand dryers increases year on year.

Why hygiene?

The environmental impact and cost to purchase can not be disputed so the paper towel industry needed a different angle to create doubt.

Hygiene as a topic makes good headlines that resonate with a lot of people – makes them more newsworthy and sharable. Paper towels and hand dryers are boring, but the headlines that can be written to scare create excitement.

Many of the general public will not scrutinise the research or understand its implications so will be led by the media.  Although the research is performed under scientific conditions, it is the poor methodology and biased interpretation of the results to real world scenarios that creates the scaremongering.

By targeting hospitals, it suggests that concerns should be made by all society in every walk of life.

What’s the impact on society?

Wrongly, public opinion is being diverted away from the bigger issue.  The reality of climate change and the negative effects it is having.  Big business is trying to manipulate public opinion for profit, when in fact it is against public interest to ignore the environmental impact of paper.

Hand dryers use very little energy so are better for the environment.  They can also save businesses, schools, hospitals etc a large amount of money that can be better used.

Is there a place for paper towels?

Yes of course.  They create no noise so are perfect for inside school classrooms and any other location that require very low noise levels.  They also require no electricity when in a washroom, so for areas that cannot have electric circuits they are vital. The key to overall hygiene is being able to dry the hands, so a method needs to be in place to do this.

It should come down to preference not scaremongering.  If people prefer paper towels then they are free to choose.

However, now that there are hand dryers that perform just as well, people’s perception of the low waste, environmentally friendly option of the hand dryer is a legitimate contender to the drying experience.


Please read the full article on the Intelligent Hand Dryers-Site. As electric Handdryer Association we appreciate to be able also posting this well researched article and give credit to

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