May 10th, 2012


While it’s been documented for years that paper towels are the most hygienic choice when it comes to drying hands, a recent report truly caught our eye.

A study conducted earlier this year in part by Dyson Limited, makers of the Dyson Airblade hand dryer, reported that “rubbing with paper towels appeared to be the best means of reducing bacterial loading on the fingertips.”

To examine the issue further, these findings correlate with the results of an earlier study conducted by the University of Westminster, London. That study found that when participants used paper towels to dry their hands, the number of all types of bacteria on the hands was reduced by up to 77 percent, and that air dryers actually increased the number of most bacteria on the hands – up to 254 percent more for warm air dryers and 42 percent more for jet air dryers.

In addition to examining the bacteria on users’ hands, the study also looked at the potential contamination of other users and the washroom environment. The study found that the jet air dryer was capable of blowing microorganisms up to six-and-a-half feet away, potentially contaminating users and the washroom. Traditional warm air dryers spread microorganisms less than one foot away, while paper towels showed no significant spread of microorganisms.

The final portion of the study looked at the number of bacteria in the machines themselves. Some of the bacteria found were potential pathogens that could cause disease (E. coli, Staphylococcus).

The take-away?: carefully consider using warm air dryers and jet dryers in locations where hygiene is of great importance. These places include hospitals, clinics, schools, nurseries, care homes, kitchens and other food preparation areas.

Cascades offers a couple options that take hand drying hygiene to the next level. The Cascades’ Tandem® No Touch dispensing system further helps reduce the incidence of pathogen cross-contamination, as damp hands never touch the dispenser. Additionally, in 2010, Cascades launched the Intelligent® Cascades® Antibacterial Hand Towel in Canada, an innovative first in the paper industry. As it absorbs the water from hands, its highly soluble antibacterial ingredient is transferred from the hand towel to the skin. This simple action quickly reduces the number of pathogen bacteria that remain on the skin.

Sources :
•    Journal of Applied Microbiology, Comparative evaluation of the hygienic efficacy of an ultra-rapid hand dryer vs conventional warm air hand dryers

Tags: Innovation Hand hygiene Drying method Paper towels

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