Hand Dryers vs Paper Towels – The Great Debate

Hand Dryers vs Paper Towels – The Great Debate

As a consumer or even a business, you may have long pondered the hand dryers vs paper towels debate. After all, it’s been a hot topic for some time. Which is more hygienic? Which is more effective? Which is more efficient? Which is eco-friendlier? There are many factors to consider when deciding which is the best option to offer in your washroom facilities for your business. Read on as we look at the great debate in more depth.

Which is the most hygienic?

Hygiene is perhaps paramount when it comes to differentiating between hand dryers and paper towels. After all, their purpose is to ensure your colleagues; staff; or customers are able to dry their hands effectively after washing their hands and reduce growth of bacteria on wet hands. The debate has long been around; but despite various studies having been conducted, it seems that findings are largely inconclusive, one way or the other.  In April 2016, The Guardian newspaper released a discussion piece off the back of a paper published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology which suggested that hand dryers (specifically the Dyson Airblade) spreads 1,300 times more germs than standard paper towels! This may be true in test conditions; but in a real washroom where paper towels may not be disposed of in the rubbish bin etc.; there are certainly two sides to every story. The NHS seems to agree with this too, from their report on the subject.

Which is the most eco-friendly?

The impact on the environment is also an important factor to consider. With paper towels, we need to consider tree destruction; the transportation of trees to factories; the manufacturing process; packaging; and then also the delivery of paper towels to businesses. We also need to factor in their one-time use value; and after this, the waste created. From this perspective, it’s clear that paper towels are certainly the least environmentally friendly option. Hand dryer on the other hands also have a manufacturing process which is far more involved than paper towels, and once installed have no ongoing impacts other than the uses of electricity. Previous studies have suggested that a hand dryer produces less CO2 emissions overall. Although hand dryers would have a larger impact on landfill, their shelf life is considerably longer; typically, several years. As such, hand dryers are generally considered the eco-friendlier option overall.

Which is more cost effective?

As a business, overall profitability and the bottom line are of course very important indeed. Everything from the toilet paper you choose to the hand drying facilities need to be considered from a cost aspect. So; which is the more cost effective option, hand dryers or paper towels? Dyson quote that their Airblade dryers are 97% cheaper than paper towels and up to 80% less than other hand dryers to run! They have even broken down their calculations. As such, it’s clear that on an ongoing cost basis, hand dryers are much more cost effective. For your business, however, you will need to consider the purchase cost of a hand dryer and factor this is in before calculating the overall cost benefit.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in the ongoing debate on hand dryers vs paper towels. There is plenty to consider but we hope that the above angle has helped you to consider and decide which option is most fitting for your business needs.