Paper Towels Spread Fewer Germs Than Hot-Air Drying

(p. R1) In the age of coronavirus, handwashing can save lives. But proper hand-drying matters, too.

“It might sound pedantic, but it’s actually critical,” says John Gammon, professor of infection prevention and control at Swansea University in the U.K.

Prof. Gammon was the lead author of a review of hand-drying research and published his findings in the March 2019 issue of the Journal of Infection Prevention. His paper, “The Neglected Element of Hand Hygiene,” examined the effectiveness of paper towels, cloth towels and dryers that use hot air or high-velocity air.

In a clinical situation, such as a hospital, disposable paper towels are generally the quickest, most efficient and hygienic method of hand drying. “The mechanical action of rubbing with paper towels has an effect on reducing microorganisms on hands,” Prof. Gammon says. Paper towels are also less likely to spread germs into the surrounding environment than hot-air and high-velocity air dryers, he adds.

For the full story, see:

Beth DeCarbo. “The Best Way to Dry Your Hands.” The Wall Street Journal (Friday, April 3, 2020): R1.

(Note: the online version of the story was updated April 2, 2020, and has the title “You’ve Perfected Your Handwashing Technique. Here’s How to Dry Them.” Where there is a slight difference in wording between the versions, the passages quoted above follow the online version.)

Gammon’s academic paper, mentioned above, is:

Gammon, John, and Julian Hunt. “The Neglected Element of Hand Hygiene – Significance of Hand Drying, Efficiency of Different Methods and Clinical Implication: A Review.” Journal of Infection Prevention 20, no. 2 (March 2019): 66-74.

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