April 20, 2021

Does Friction Make A Difference in Safer Hand Drying?

According to several reports, friction is a crucial component in hand drying because it helps to eliminate contamination. According to microbiological testing of the paper towels after use, many bacteria are moved from the hands to the paper towels.

 Inadequately dried hands are more likely to spread microorganisms than hands that have been thoroughly dried. However, only a few studies have compared the efficacy of various drying methods for removing microorganisms from hands, and the findings are mixed. 

 The pandemic of COVID-19 has raised consumer consciousness of the value of hand hygiene and the dangers of germ transmission. Nearly 95% of adults do not wash their hands long enough to remove bacteria and viruses altogether, allowing germs to stay on their hands after washing.

Though routine and appropriate handwashing has been emphasized, Kimberly-Clark Professional wants to know, “How do you dry your hands?” 

“While science shows that paper towels are the most sanitary choice for hand drying, the risks associated with alternative drying methods raise concerns,” says Steve Jones, General Manager UK & Ireland, Kimberly-Clark Professional.

“If germs and harmful bacteria are present on wet hands, jet-air dryers will disperse them. In these unprecedented times, addressing every germ hotspot is essential for creating a safer and more sanitary climate. Before using or purchasing an air dryer, we believe it is important that people are fully educated about the hygiene hazards posed by jet-air dryers, as well as the science of hygiene.” 

A jet-air dryer blasts water droplets containing germs from the hands up to 2 meters into the air. These bacteria will remain in the air for up to 15 minutes after being aerosolized. Jet-air dryers have been shown to increase bacteria levels on fingers by up to 42 percent 3. As a result, it’s no surprise that the World Health Organization’s “Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care” recommends using paper towels to dry hands. 

Also, with HEPA filters and diligent cleaning of air dryers, Hand Towels can leave your hands and washroom cleaner than air dryers. In reality, compared to drying with paper towels, a jet air dryer can disperse 1,300 times more germ particles.

Some researchers still believe that hand towels are the safest choice. 

Despite WHO and related bodies’ published guidelines, some researchers believe there is still a case to be made for providing paper towels as a safer alternative. 

According to a study conducted by Dr. Ines Moura of the University of Leeds, there are evident variations in the residual microbial contamination of the subject’s hands and body depending on the hand drying method: 

The paper’s abstract says, “Crucially, these variations in contamination translate into substantially higher levels of microbe contamination after JD (Jet Dryer) vs. PT (Paper Towel) usage from hands and body outside the toilet/washroom.”

In the summer, Dr. Charlotte Fowler, a senior NHS consultant, led a movement to get hand dryers turned off because they can produce “contaminated aerosols or micro-droplets.” Dr. Fowler claimed to Sky News that “the government’s advisors have demanded that hand dryers be switched off,” but this assertion has yet to be confirmed.

The hand drying method chosen will be determined by the washroom owner’s preferences. Suppose the critical goals for practicing good hand hygiene in the workplace are preventing cross-contamination, removing moisture and microorganisms, and increasing compliance. In that case, a towel-based system is possibly the best option. 

The best drying method is yet again proven to be hand towels and certainly friction helps reduce the risk to the public.

Does Friction Make A Difference in Safer Hand Drying?