Man using hand dryer at public toilet silhouette icon

A recent study has found that bacterial contamination was lower in hospital washrooms where paper towels were used rather than air dryers, according to an article on the Becker’s Hospital Review website. The study, published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, looked at hand-drying methods and whether they contributed to the risk of bacterial contamination in a healthcare environment.

Researchers analyzed bacterial contamination levels in washrooms where hand drying occurred either via paper towels or air dryers. Total bacterial recovery was significantly greater from air dryer versus paper towel dispenser surfaces at all sites.

In the U.K., methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus recovery was three times more frequent and sixfold higher for jet air dryer versus paper towel surfaces. And In France, ESBL-producing bacteria were recovered from dust twice as often during jet air dryer use compared to paper towel use.

Statistics like this could contribute to purchasing trends. According to sales figures from the latest “Report On Sanitary Supply Distributor Sales” by Sanitary Maintenance and ISSA, hand dryers only account for nearly $17.5 million. This is compared to $8 billion in sales of towels and tissue, according to reports.

Recent advancements such as high-speed, HEPA filters and models built into faucets make hand dryers more user-friendly. And although hand dryers tend to get blamed for blowing bacteria around the restroom and contaminated surfaces, there are actually a number of studies that say hand dryers are a hygienic choice.