As the world continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, public health officials have kept up messaging that focuses on the importance of handwashing to prevent the spread of disease. Since hand drying is just as critical as handwashing to curtailing the transmission of dangerous viruses and bacteria, a pertinent question remains: should you use paper towels or electric hand dryers in your school’s restroom?
Luckily, when it comes to hygiene, cost and sustainability, there’s really no contest between the two—installing a high-speed, energy-efficient and touchless electric hand dryer is the wiser choice. Many facilities, including schools, have been throwing in the towel in favor of electric hand drying.
The original hand dryer that created the high-speed, energy-efficient category is part of an expanded and enhanced line of products that have paved the way in the electric hand drying industry. Along with the original, flagship dryer, the product line offers three additional models: an extremely environmentally friendly product that uses no heat technology to dry hands fast using only 500 watts; a sleek, space-saving model designed to be fully ADA-compliant when surface mounted; and a sink-mounted, elegant dryer that will elevate the look and feel of any restroom.
While each of these dryers satisfies different consumer needs, they all represent the gold standard in the hand drying industry for cleanliness, sustainability and cost. Let’s dive into each of these topics and examine why electric hand dryers come out on top in these categories when compared to paper towels.
If you think that your paper towels are completely clean before use, you might want to think again. In fact, one study in the American Journal of Infection Control found that 100- to 1,000-fold more bacteria were found on recycled paper towels than a virgin wood pulp brand and that bacteria may be transferred to people after handwashing.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no scientific evidence to determine that hand dryers spread germs on your hands more than paper towels. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that both air hand dryers and clean towels are effective ways to dry hands and that there’s no evidence to determine if one method is more effective at reducing germs than the other. But unlike paper towels, electric hand dryers reduce touchpoints in a restroom and foster a more sanitary and cleaner environment overall.
All dryers in the expanded and enhanced product line completely eliminate the need for any touch, as automatic sensors turn on the dryer when it detects hands underneath. And in a world where 80% of germs are transmitted by touch, it’s clear that these touchless hand dryers help to create a more hygienic restroom space.
Germs will always be in high-traffic places like restrooms, but not every hand drying solution will provide the same level of protection. A HEPA filtration system is available as an optional feature on some of the dryers on the product line, can be easily retrofitted on some dryers and comes standard on one of the models. Results of testing from LMS Technologies found that this HEPA filtration system removes 99.999% of viruses and 99.97% of potentially present bacteria at 0.3 microns from the airstream.
Even further, electric hand dryers help to eliminate the mess that paper towels can wreak in a restroom. Used, wet and dirty towels will no longer be strewn across floors and surfaces, on sinks and in toilets, when an electric hand dryer is hard at work in a school’s restrooms.
Many organizations around the country are laser-focused on how they can become “greener” as the effects of climate change continue to have a profound effect on the environment. Installing this line of high-speed, energy-efficient electric hand dryers in restrooms can help facilities meet their sustainability goals, as they qualify for the most LEED v4 credits of any hand dryer on the market. Each dryer also uses 80% less energy than conventional hand dryers.
It’s a misconception that paper towels, especially those that are made from recycled fibers, are the most eco-friendly way to dry hands. In truth, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study peer-reviewed to ISO 14040 Standards and conducted by Quantis, an international LCA research firm, found that when compared to traditional electric hand dryers and paper towels (virgin and 100% recycled content), the flagship hand dryer reduces the carbon footprint of hand drying by 50%–75%.
Think also about the life of a paper towel and the amount of energy expended from its manufacturing to its transportation. Paper towels can be recycled, but once 100% recycled paper towels are dirtied by restroom users, they cannot be recycled again—instead, they head straight to a landfill.
Cost and Maintenance
When all is said and done, paper towels cost more to refill and maintain than an electric hand dryer. This signature line of high-speed, energy-efficient and hygienic hand dryers represent a 95% cost savings over paper towels, as the need to replenish used paper products is eliminated.
Some facilities and schools struggle with constantly having to deal with paper towels clogging up toilets, which can lead to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in plumbing repairs. Cut out the opportunity for students or others to cause this damage by installing hand dryers in restrooms.
What’s more, facilities can see major improvements in maintenance costs and time for choosing electric hand dryers over paper towels. When paper towels are in play, maintenance crews often must monitor bathrooms to make sure that paper towel messes are cleaned up in a prompt manner. With electric hand dryers, schools and other facilities can reduce the maintenance time it takes to attend to restrooms dirtied by paper towels. This could also lead to a reduction in any extra costs a school might incur due to maintenance staff responding to these issues.
With all these facts in mind, it’s clear that when comparing hygiene, sustainability and cost, electric hand dryers are the obvious choice when put up against paper towels.
This article is courtesy of Excel Dryer, which has been manufacturing the finest American-made hand dryers for over 50 years, www.exceldryer.com.