Thought Leaders: Study finds air hand dryers can spread more germs than paper towels

By Pete Gazlay - Total Facility Care — 

It is no secret that public restrooms remain one of the hardest facility areas to clean and maintain, and COVID-19 has changed public perceptions and expectations for restroom cleanliness for the long term. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses turned to touch-free methods to cut down on opportunities for spreading germs. The demand for touchless dispensers and other touchless items like auto-flush toilets and touchless air dryers in restrooms has never been higher.

Touchless air dryers became a popular choice for businesses because the total amount of touches is limited. And most importantly for many clients, touchless air dryers offer a more sustainable, environmentally conscious alternative to paper towels. However, according to a new study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, touchless hand dryers may not be as effective as we might think they are. High-speed air dryers may leave more contamination on your hands than paper towels. In addition, they may spread germs onto your clothes, leading to more of them being transferred to other surfaces. As we learn more about hot air dryers collecting bacteria and spreading it onto freshly washed hands, many facility users believe paper hand towels are more hygienic, are safer to use, and spread less bacteria in the air.

As we all know, handwashing is extremely important and has been shown to be the single most effective way to cut down the transmission and spread of microbes.  If your business has already invested in making the switch to touchless air dryers to prevent the spread of germs, it is important to look to emerging science for direction, and TFC can help guide you through these new expectations. You might want to consider offering two options to help cut down the possible spread of bacteria, such as a touchless towel dispenser along with a touchless air dryer. This way, by offering a touchless paper towel dispenser, you can cut down the possible spread of germs in half while still offering an option for the environmentally conscious user.

If your facility is looking to incorporate touchless dispensers on a limited budget, we have cost-effective solutions, and TFC can help you navigate what is best for your business. The end goal is to reopen your restroom with confidence by showing your facility occupants and visitors that you are following CDC guidelines by keeping restrooms well-stocked and providing necessary updates on cleanliness standards.