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Paper towels: a straight A in hygiene

It’s been proven: paper towels are the most hygienic way to dry your hands – and the most popular, too.

Hand hygiene, especially thorough hand washing with soap and water, has deservedly come into focus over the past year. However, experts know: that alone is not enough. Only proper hand drying makes hand hygiene complete.

If microorganisms remain on the hands after washing, the residual moisture provides them with an ideal environment. This, in turn, can lead to an increased transfer of microorganisms from hands to surfaces, increasing the risk of spreading infections and germs.

Dry is enough? Not quite.

In an attempt to avoid touching and contact surfaces in washrooms, people like to use classic electric hand dryers. They dry and remove bacteria and viruses from the hands – yet, their air flow distributes and whirls the germs throughout the room and onto users. As early as March 2020, electric hand dryers were therefore banned at the University of Bonn, for instance.

A pilot study** by the University of Leeds clearly established how important the right method of hand drying is. especially in the professional sector. The study investigated virus transmission after hand drying in a hospital washroom. The result was clear: The contamination rate of surfaces after hand drying with jet dryers was ten times higher than with paper towels.

Science has a preference, so do consumers

Paper towels, on the other hand, are an ideal solution: Their friction safely removes any remaining germs from the hands and dries them thoroughly. Each towel is used only once – if necessary even to avoid touching door handles – and then disposed of.

Given all that, the fact that paper towels are also a winner with consumers is not really surprising. In a survey*, an impressive 94% of washroom users named disposable paper towels as their preferred method – well ahead of hand dryers or cotton towels.

Our tip: the advantages of paper towels, combined with touch-free, maximum hygiene – read more about the new sensor towel dispenser in this newsletter.

*IPSOS, +++ Q1/2021
**Moura, I., Ewin, D., & Wilcox, M. (2021). From the hospital toilet to the ward: A pilot study on microbe dispersal to multiple hospital surfaces following hand drying using a jet air dryer versus paper towels. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 1-4. doi:10.1017/ice.2021.43

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