Handwashing: Are you a paper towel or hand dryer person?

Hand dryer increases the number of bacteria on hands.

It’s a classic scenario. You turn from the sink, your hands clean but wet. You look for something to dry them with. Hand dryer? Paper towel? One, or sometimes both, are options. Have you ever wondered which is more hygienic?

Hand-drying methods under microscope

The Bradford Infection Group at the University of Bradford and Dyson Limited wanted to know the answer. They recently conducted a study to shed light on the issue and found that drying hands with paper is the best way to minimize bacteria exposure.

They weren’t the only ones looking into the matter, either. The University of Westminster in London, UK, carried out a related study and came up with similar findings. Paper towels reduced the number of all types of bacteria by up to 77%, and hand dryers had the opposite effect: they considerably increased the number of bacteria on the hands, by up to 254% in the case of warm air dryers and 42% in the case of jet air dryers.

Bacteria contamination: bad score for hand dryers

In addition to bacteria on the hands, the UK study also looked at the potential contamination of other users and the washroom environment. Researchers found that jet air dryers could blow micro-organisms more than six feet away, potentially contaminating users and the washroom. Traditional warm air dryers were found to spread micro-organisms almost a foot away, while no spread of bacteria was observed with paper towels.

The final portion of the study looked at the number of bacteria in the dryers themselves. Once again, the findings were not favourable for hand dryers: some of the bacteria found, e.g., E. coli and Staphylococcus, are potential disease-causing pathogens.

Because of these results, we have strengthened our commitment to providing environmentally preferable products that are also health conscious for the user. Traditional paper has been recognized as the most hygienic solution, and we think it’s possible to take hygiene even further.

”On paper” solutions

That’s why we developed the Cascades Tandem® No Touch dispensing systems, which help further reduce pathogen cross-contamination, as hands never touch the dispenser.

Also, in 2010, Cascades launched in Canada its Antibacterial Hand Towel – Intelligent Paper®, an innovative first in the paper industry. As the paper absorbs water from the hands, its highly soluble antibacterial ingredient is transferred from the towel to the skin. This simple action quickly reduces the number of pathogenic bacteria that remain on the hands.

We also aim to raise awareness in places where health and hygiene are key issues. These include hospitals, clinics, schools, daycare centres, kitchens and other food preparation areas. We have already made great strides in this direction, and we’ve only just begun!


What about your habits?

Hand-washing has been a hot topic in recent years, especially when we were faced with the H1N1 flu pandemic. Many people have said they have since changed their habits accordingly. In everyday life, how important is hand-washing to you?

Find out with Liz the truth about air dryers in this funny animated video:



You can find both episode 2 and 3 on Cascades YouTube Channel:

Episode 2

Episode 3


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About the Author
Isabelle Faivre

Isabelle has been working at Cascades Tissue Group in Marketing since 2002. She currently oversees all Marketing activities of the “away-from-home” division across North America. Isabelle grew up and studied Marketing in France and graduated from McGill in Canada. The proud mother of her 3-year old son, Isabelle is driven to protect our planet for future generations. She is a fervent supporter of environmental issues, drives a hybrid and recycles and composts as much as she can at home! “Cascades is a great fit for me, I share the same values and love introducing innovative and sustainable products! I get to do what I love the most on a daily basis!”

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