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What's the Greenest Way to Dry Your Hands?

Bathroom Paper Towel Dispenser

Hand washing is a crucial part of hygiene and avoiding sickness and infection. This is even more crucial in the workplace, as a few people neglecting their hygiene responsibilities can cause problems for everybody.

However, the environment is becoming more and more of an immediate issue too, and organisations all around the UK and the world are scrambling to find new hand washing and hand drying methods in order to minimise the use of unnecessary water and reduce environmental impact.

But with so many fancy hand drying systems available these days and contradictory advice turning up all over the place, it’s hard to know what your hand drying options are when it comes to saving the environment.

Luckily for you, few people are more set up to understand this better than phs, and we’ve got some types for drying your hands in the most environmentally friendly way possible!

Let’s take a look:

Hand Dryers vs Paper Towels

One of the most common decisions an organisation has to make when organising their hand care services comes down to automatic hand dryers versus paper towels.

While many assume that paper towels are the better option, there are two main aspects to consider here - hygiene and the environment. Paper towels fail both, and a well-designed air dryer may well be the solution to a lot of your problems. However, there is also the cost factor to consider, and with energy prices rising for businesses as well as individuals, paper towels or roller towels may be more preferable hand drying methods at this time.

Hand Dryers vs Paper Towels: Sanitation

Paper towel dispensers are a great option for hygiene reasons as they do not require anybody to touch the dispenser themselves, and every person gets a unique paper towel that hasn’t been touched by anybody else. 

A modern, well-designed air dryer is able to handle this too, especially ones with modern designs that do not have a start button or any need for the user to touch the machine. More traditional hand dryers are actually very bad on a hygienic level as they regularly require users to push a button in order to begin airflow. This button will generally be covered in bacteria which will spread onto the newly washed hands of anybody who uses it.

Based on this information, we would always recommend you go with air dryers if you are able to afford modern ones with a hygiene focused design. However, if this isn’t the case, a paper towel dispenser is your best option - as older hand dryers do not provide the same hygiene benefits and are generally not worth considering.

Electric Hand Dryers vs Paper Towels: Cost

When it comes to cost, it’s easy to assume that hand dryers are the more expensive option. After all, paper towel dispensers don’t require electricity! 

However, this isn’t really the case. Most modern hand dryers are designed to be energy efficient meaning the amount of power they actually use is minimal. Buildings with solar panels to generate their own electricity may even find that it’s completely free of charge to run hand dryers.

When you reconcile this with the fact that paper towel dispensers require restocking, modern air dryers are usually the cheapest option.

To help ensure a hand dryer remains a cost-effective option for your business, you should consider offsetting some of your other energy use, such as switching to lighting sensors and using energy-efficient bulbs. Using a hand dryer doesn’t have to come with an expensive electricity bill - adopting other energy-saving measures can help reduce your overall spend, helping you to focus on a more sustainable workplace.

Hand Dryers vs Paper Towels: Environmental Impact

So here it is, perhaps for many people, the most important consideration.

The first thing to note is that paper towel dispensers that use non-recycled paper towels are, as you’d imagine, terrible for the environment. Throwing out a paper every time a person washes their hands is simply not sustainable or responsible.

With that said, if paper towels are 100% recycled, recyclable, and your organisation enforces a strict recycling policy that doesn’t allow any of the towels to go to the landfill, this can become much less of an issue.

Air dryers however remain the better option in the majority of instances, since modern models are often so efficient that they use less energy than a lightbulb.

What do the experts say about hand drying?

You’ve heard what we’ve had to say about hand drying, but what do health experts suggest? In light of the recent pandemic, hand washing has never been more in the spotlight, with many experts weighing in on the debate.

First and foremost, according to health expert Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, “After washing your hands, it is so crucial that you dry your hands thoroughly.” This is to help any recontamination of germs during the drying process. Okeke-Igbokwe says that using a paper towel after you wash your hands is the preferred way to dry your hands to prevent the spread of bacteria.

However using a hand dryer or a drying hands with paper towels is still preferable to letting your hands air dry or rubbing them on your clothes. Washing your hands can become pointless if you don’t dry your hands properly afterwards. Therefore, in the argument for hand dryer vs paper towels, anything is better than nothing according to health experts.

Using an appropriate hand drying method to dry your hands can also help keep your skin in good condition, helping to prevent flare ups from eczema and other conditions.

The Final Word

Based on all of the above, the exact ideal solution depends on your own organisation’s setup, budget, and requirements. With that said, the most up to date and energy-efficient air dryers hold huge benefits both in terms of energy usage, and hygiene and will almost always be the better option.

This means that in our opinion, they will almost always be the better option.

For smaller organisations who cannot afford the most up to date and efficient air dryers, then paper towels can be an excellent option - but only if you can get a reliable supplier of recyclable, ethically produced paper towels.

phs is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of hand drying products, including paper towels and hand dryers. Whatever your business’ needs, we can help provide you with the right drying products. See our full range of hand drying products or contact phs Direct today to discuss your options.

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