Are Hand Dryers Hygienic?

Updated May 2022 – 3 min read

The question of whether hand dryers are hygienic?’ has been put under the spotlight since the outbreak of the pandemic. The answer is a resounding YES! Hand dryers are approved for use in public areas by the WHO, CDC and all International governments

The Japanese and German governments instructed a vigorous review of the data to be on the side of caution, both have subsequently declared them completely safe for use. Skepticism over their use has largely been due to lobbying and ‘sponsored science’ by the paper towel industry. We explore what the independent experts have said, including Scientists, Academic Institutions, Health bodies and also apply a bit of common sense. The key findings were:

  1. If you wash your hands thoroughly an effective hand dryer is more hygienic because it is non-touch. Paper towels and dispensers can create cross contamination points.
  2. If you don’t wash your hands properly then paper towels may be better as they will remove additional microbes through friction.
  3. Much depends on how well the hands are dried as wet hands pose most risk for microbe transfer. Paper towels are often not used to dry thoroughly enough between fingers, some dryers are not quick enough.
  4. Good ventilation, mechanical air sterilisation and good hand washing are the most important factors, not the method of hand drying providing drying is thorough.



Yale School of Medicine state:

Since threats like COVID-19 can lead to the circulation of misinformation, it’s important to trust information only from reputable health organizations and government sources such as the CDC and the WHO

Dry your hands completely. You can dry them under a warm air dryer, or use a paper towel. Avoid a recently used towel as moisture is a good breeding ground for bacteria, which makes drying your hands an important step.”

In early March 2020, The World Health Organisation put out this message on the subject of hand washing:

“To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.”

The CDC are quoted in this video:

“We have no evidence that hand dryers are spreading the coronavirus”

Independent view

Independent microbiologist, Dr. David L Webber, has confirmed that the use of hand dryers in the washroom does not contribute to the spread of the novel coronavirus


This is a great video from Royal Melbourne Hospital on how to protect yourself from COVID-19, saying dry after washing with either a paper towel or a hand dryer.

Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Community, Environment and Policy; Director of the Environment, Exposure Science and Risk Assessment Center (ESRAC) at the University of Arizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health has been quoted to say:

“Consumers may only read [sensationalized] headlines which can influence public opinion toward biased or erroneous conclusions, [but] the fact is, the breadth of data available does not favor one hand drying method as being more hygienic or safer.” 

The quote is based on Reynolds et al (2020) scoping review – Comparison of electric hand dryers and paper towels for hand hygiene: a critical review of the literature

Read more about this in the article: Important: Have you been given inaccurate guidance for your school or workplace regarding COVID-19?


Summary
Article Name
Are hand dryer hygienic?
Description
A comprehensive look at whether hand dryers are a hygienic method of drying hands with reference to the alterantive solutions
Author
Publisher Name
Intelligent Facility Solutions Ltd

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