Paper Towels vs. Hand Dryers

Paper Towels vs. Hand Dryers

The age old debate: Paper towels or hot air dryer? You’ve heard that air dryers blow germs all over, but also that paper towels are worse for the environment…

To make things even more complicated, a new contender has started popping up in many public bathrooms: the jet air dryer. Is it really better than the other options? All you want to do is get your hands dry after using the restroom. Have the drying options gone too far?

The Truth

Turns out, there is some truth to the rumors you’ve heard. Due to age and their consistent warm temperatures, hot air dryers are a breeding ground for bacteria. After you go through all the work of soaping and lathering, hot air dryers will spray them with a bunch of germs and cover them in bacteria all over again.

Paper towels can also harbor bacteria. Typically far fewer, and usually from a previous user touching towels in the dispenser they don’t end up using.

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to drying methods, is how quickly they can get hands completely dry (and hopefully avoid wiping our hands on our pants in frustration). Paper towels are able to get your hands 90 percent dry in 10 seconds, whereas hot air dryers take about 43 seconds and don’t normally dry hands more than 55 (men) and 68 (women) percent.

Hand drying is essential. Hands left damp are a conduit for bacteria. In order not to undo the benefits of hand washing, effective drying methods must be implemented.

The New Guy

The jet air dryer is the newest, state-of-the-art hand dryer that has slashed drying times and is even more eco-friendly than hot air dryers. Jet air dryers work by inserting the hands vertically and slowly pulling them upward as the jet air dryer blows most of the excess water on the hands into a drip tray.

While more eco-friendly, and the rivaling drying times of paper towels, the jet air dryer does pose some of the sanitary concerns due to the drip tray.

The Differences

  • Paper towels are a classic option that dry hands efficiently, but are not as eco-friendly as their alternatives. We suggest opting for a recycled option.
  • Jet air dryers are best for the environment and dry quickly, but are more expensive.
  • Hot air dryers leave a smaller carbon footprint than paper towels and are more inexpensive than jet air dryers, but their drying time leaves users frustrated and many leave with damp hands.

At the end of the day, what form of dryer you equip your bathroom with comes down to your own preferences and specific needs.


Call us today at 402.331.3243 for a FREE, no-obligation analysis with one of our facility solutions specialists to see how much you could save!

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