Paper towel or air dryer? A new clip comes clean on which is more hygienic to dry your hands.
AsapSCIENCE's "Paper Towel vs. Hand Dryers" video above gives both sides their sanitary props. But this battle isn't a wash, the video says.
The segment explains -- and a 2012 Mayo Clinic study backs up the assertion -- that the paper towel wins because it dries your hands faster. "From a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers," the Mayo Clinic study authors wrote. "Paper towels should be recommended in locations where hygiene is paramount, such as hospitals and clinics."
Both the video and the clinic point out that many of us simply don't have the patience to rub our hands under the air dryer for the time required to actually get hands dry.
Germs then get a pick-me-up because moist hands collect more bacteria. "Most people dry their hands for a bit, then wipe them on their dirty jeans, or open the door with their still-wet hands," Rodney Lee Thompson, a hospital epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic, told the Wall Street Journal.
But here's the rub, according to the video: If we take the time to do the job right under a blower, our hands can get just as dry and clean.
In the end, though, all the drying in the world won't be sanitary unless you wash your hands well with soap in the first place.