Sylvain Martin
Senior Product Manager
Cascades Tissue Group
Kingsey Falls, Quebec, Canada


Julie Howard
Vice President/General Manager
Atlanta, Georgia


Laura Ashley
Marketing Manager
Resolute Tissue
Calhoun, Tennessee

What role does hand drying play in a proper hand hygiene program?

Howard: There's no question that handwashing and hand drying are most powerful when they're performed together. Wet hands are a haven for germ and bacteria growth, so proper handwashing also requires complete hand drying. A paper towel allows users to get a quick and thorough dry, including in the spaces between fingers that often get missed. The friction of a paper towel helps facilitate removal of any germs remaining after washing, as well.

Ashley: Thorough and efficient hand drying is an essential part of good hand hygiene. Bacteria transmission is more likely with wet skin rather than dry skin. Hand dryers are known to spread bacteria and take longer to dry hands, while paper towels are more hygienic with the physical movement of drying the hands removing — and not dispersing — the bacteria.

Martin: What many people may not be aware of is that bacteria are more easily transmitted from wet hands than dry hands, according to studies. This is one of the primary reasons why hand drying is so integral to stopping the spread of germs and bacteria. If a person were to wash their hands and not dry them thoroughly, they run the risk of still spreading germs throughout a facility.

What cost-saving measures can facility managers take when it comes to managing paper towels/dispensers?

Ashley: Certainly, towel dispensers with stub-roll transfer features ensure that 100 percent of the roll towel is used up — resulting in zero waste and better cost efficiency. Another way to control cost is to control consumption with a variable paper length setting where custodial staff can set the towel dispenser to a shorter length setting, which tends to discourage overuse. Also, many dispensers have an option that controls whether a paper towel is presented in the exposed mode (also known as "hanging" or "butler" mode) or whether the paper is only dispensed upon electronic sensor activation (hidden mode). The hidden mode may reduce unnecessary consumption. Battery changeovers also are an inherent cost not only in the expense of the batteries, but also in labor costs.

Howard: The great news is that automated towel systems come with built-in savings opportunities due to usage-reduction versus a folded towel, but many facilities are now also switching to a brown towel because it visibly shows a commitment to environmental sustainability and is more cost-effective than white towels.

Martin: Many end users have already seen that proprietary systems result in cost savings. This is for two reasons: first is that you control usage per hand dry. When the guest can only take one sheet at a time, you limit the amount of paper they are using to dry their hands, which could sometimes represent up to 50 percent of paper saved. Second is the size of the sheet once cut. Some dispensers cut paper as short as 9.5 inches — which leads to 10 to 20 percent less paper being used for each sheet pulled compared to more conventional options.

What are some of the most common maintenance-related challenges for paper towels/dispensers, and how can they be avoided or minimized?

Howard: Refilling folded towel dispensers can divert critical maintenance labor away from other work. This is because users tend to take more towel than needed, so the dispensers are more prone to running out. Also, warranty programs are highly valuable for automated systems because the manufacturer can then send replacement parts quickly if a break occurs. Universal dispensers often don't come with long warranties to support this need.

Ashley: First, lost keys — choose a dispenser that has a lock system with an option to convert to a pushbutton, which doesn't require a key to refill. The pushbutton still looks like a lock and discourages pilferage. Second, outages are avoidable — to avoid surprise outages, choose an electronic paper towel dispenser that has a low-paper indicator and low-battery indicator. Third, waste not want not — to avoid waste, choose a paper towel dispenser that has a stub roll transfer feature. This buys extra time before needing to refill and offers relief from the expense, waste, and guilt of throwing away even a small, partial roll. Fourth, where possible, choose high capacity for less maintenance time devoted to changeovers. Fifth, seamless covers — today's more stringent cleaning regimens require lots of surface cleaning. Look for seamless dispensers that won't trap dirt in crevices, making wipe downs quick and simple.

Martin: Maintenance staff have more tasks to do in less time, and budgets are becoming more limited. Because of this, businesses need to get optimized solutions to save on time. Some dispensers on the market have a quick-check design to help maintenance employees to know without opening the dispenser if paper is needed. For example, if there are 100 dispensers in a facility and the team can save five seconds per dispenser per day, it represents eight minutes per day and 35 hours in a year.

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Key Benefits Of Hand Towels, Dispensers