Are hand air dryers safer than paper towels?

We have all entered public restrooms, and very few offer a choice of both an air hand dryer and paper towels. Most of the time, we have only one choice. I have always thought that paper towels are messy but probably a healthier option. Why would I want all the germs in a public restroom blown about the small-enclosed space when I turn on the hand dryer.

Handwashing Mandate One would think that people would take extra care to wash their hands often during a pandemic. However, the government has chosen to mandate several personal responsibilities to keep us and others safe. Handwashing for 20 seconds became vogue last year.

Bathroom Study Cambridge University reported a study from the journal of Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology that focused on whether paper towels or air dryers were the safest. Scientists know that pathogens can stay on our hands for hours. We can infect ourselves and others when we contact a person or surface that has viral germs. Washing hands minimizes this risk.

A hospital restroom served as the laboratory for an experiment to quantify the level of risk in a toilet environment. Previous studies had determined that air dryers did leave less droplet and microbe dispersion compared to hand towels. However, this was inside the restroom. Did this same protection extend outside the bathroom?

Safety was ensured by using a harmless virus and asking staff, visitors, and patients to perform their regular restroom duties as they would anywhere else. Instructions were given to test subjects to wash their hands as they usually do and use paper towels to dry. A second test was done with the participants using hand air dryers.

Various areas outside the restroom, including the participants’ clothing, were tested for the harmless virus’s presence. The study concluded that fewer viral particles were found on surfaces after drying your hands with paper towels. The overall sample size was small, but the results were conclusive.

Towels Only? Could a variable be that people did not always wash their hands for twenty seconds? Or does it matter whether a person used a hand sanitizer? What about liquid soap or bar soap?

No hand sanitizers have been approved to combat coronavirus. Many people use them several times daily. I avoid them like the plague. Some hand sanitizers have toxic chemicals such as methanol or 1-propanol. The alcohol percentage is not always high enough to provide a level of safety. It should be at least 70%. Anything less increases the risk of not killing any viruses.

Some advertisers market their products with a 24-hour protection statement. One treatment of a hand sanitizer does not last 24 hours. Other products may be sold as FDA approved. There are no FDA-approved hand sanitizers. It is a wild world out there, and you must be constantly vigilant to ensure your safety and health.


It is an exciting study with results slightly higher on one side than the other. I prefer paper towels. It gives me something to turn a doorknob or pull on a handle, so I do not have to have my clean hand contaminated on a surface that is constantly being contaminated by air movement.

Public toilets do not have seat covers. Every time a toilet flushes, microparticles of germs flood the air around the commode. Close the seat cover, and you eliminate most of that type of contamination.

Regardless, we are still responsible for our health and protection. Mandated twenty-second hand washes help. Some authorities think more than face masks. Who knows what is coming? Maybe we will be forced to bring our toilet paper to public restrooms in the future!

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –




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