The World Health Organisation still maintains the rule of washing your hands properly for at least 20 seconds as one of the best ways of stopping the transmission of COVID-19. So what is the best way to dry your hands after washing?
It has been confirmed by the World Health Organisation, the NHS and the US Centre for Disease Control that electric air-dryers are the safest way to dry hands during the pandemic but the debate continues.
Studies conducted at the University of Leeds have come to a different conclusion. The study showed that significantly higher levels of microbe contamination occurred after using air dryers as opposed to using paper towels.
A review published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology states that there is “no data to support any human health claims relative to hand air dryers versus paper towel use”. Additionally researchers at the Mayo Clinic have also found that “there is no difference in microbe counts when drying with paper towels or air dryers.”
Any NHS nurse will tell you that the most important thing is to dry hands thoroughly after washing because some microbes might remain on hands after washing, and these are more easily spread via wet hands than dry ones. A new report from the Mayo Clinic finds that people do not take the time to dry their hands completely using hand air dryers.
So if you wash your hands thoroughly and dry them thoroughly you are minimising any risk of transmitting microbes but there is no scientific consensus on whether electric air driers are more hygienic than paper hand towels.
There is of course another factor to consider and that is environmental impact. The Climate Conservancy reports that in 95% of cases electric air dryers are the greener choice. So the next time you walk into the washroom just dry your hands thoroughly and consider the environmental impact of the method used.