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Summary University of Arizona Scoping Review on Hand Dryers vs. Paper Towels

The great debate of hand dryers vs. paper towels has gone on for years through studies largely funded by the paper towel industry—and most recently via news articles and viral news articles and social media posts. The problem with these stories is that they are often one sided and written in a manner to either sensationalize —elicit fear—or both.

In short: They do not tell the whole story or share the whole truth!

To wade through materials and point to the facts, researchers from the University of Arizona reviewed existing studies. Their findings, published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology in August 2020, identified which hygiene studies are credible and should be consulted for their results and recommendations. 

The summary of University of Arizona Scoping Review gives answers to the following research question: “Are hand dryers more hygienic than paper towels?” and “Are paper towels safer than hand dryers relative to human infection risks?”.

The conclusion from the analysis is that hand dryers and paper towels were both found to be equally hygienic hand-drying solutions. From a health and safety perspective, empirical data in available research studies does not support one hand-drying method over another.


Read more about the methodology, sample size and the conditions of this research by Mel and Enid Zuckerman from the University of Arizona, College of Public Health here and here.

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