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Staples

Let’s settle this once and for all: Electric hand dryers or paper towels?

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We all know about the importance of washing our hands. Good hand hygiene helps prevent the spread of disease, and that keeps us healthy. In Europe, around eighty per cent of people wash their hands after visiting a public bathroom, and between 63 and 71 per cent dry them, according to a survey by Katrin. When given the choice in a public bathroom, according to the same survey, most people prefer to use paper towels over hand dryers—but are they really the best option?

 

Environmental impact

Hand dryers can be better for the environment since they don’t produce waste, but they still use plenty of power themselves. A study by Environmental Research Management in Oxford found that hand dryers result in a smaller environmental footprint than the use of paper towels, based on an assumption that people use two paper towels per dry. Automatic paper towel dispensers, however, can help curb waste by providing an appropriate amount. And paper towel manufacturers such as Katrin are committed to being as environmentally friendly as possible during their production process and advocating for sustainable forestry. 

Efficiency

To get the health benefits of washing your hands, the user must completely dry them as germs spread quicker on damp surfaces. Warm air dryers take a full 30 seconds, while jet dryers are quicker. However, because dryers take longer than a paper towel, users often leave with wet hands. Paper towels provide a faster opportunity for drying hands, and the friction from using paper towels also helps remove more germs. 

Cost

The most expensive of the two depends on user behaviour and the number of people who would be using them. Although paper towels must be replaced frequently, electric dryers can be costly to purchase and install and there are lots of moving parts that can require repairs. 

The winner?

With 10 million germs living on the average working desk alone, the most important reason you dry your hands is undoubtedly to avoid the spread of germs. While there are pros and cons to each, ultimately, paper towels have more benefits and advantages over hand dryers because users prefer them, they are more hygienic and more efficient. What good is a hand dryer hanging on the wall if your employees avoid using it and when they do, they don't use it for long enough to be effective?

Browse Staples washroom solutions to find an assortment of products that will help keep employees healthy, including paper towels and dispensers as part of our partnership with Katrin. 

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