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Single use towels are the most hygienic way to dry hands after visiting the washroom. By measuring microbe dispersal, a new research by the University of Westminster suggests that traditional single use towels offer an unsurpassed level of hygiene when drying hands after visiting the washroom. The research team compared paper towels, a textile roller towel, a warm air dryer and a jet air dryer using three different test models: acid indicator using lemon juice, yeast, and bacterial transmission from hands when washed without soap, and looked at the potential for microbial contamination from hand drying and the potential risks for the spread of microbes in the air.

The University of Westminster scientists found that the jet air dryer spread liquid from users’ hands further and over a greater distance – up to 1.5m – than the other drying methods. They also recorded the greatest spread of microbes into the air at both near and far distances for each of the tested models. Levels recorded at close distance for a jet air dryer revealed an average of 59.5 colonies of yeast compared with an average of just 2.2 colonies for paper towels. At a distance of 0.2m the jet air dryer recorded 67 colonies of yeast compared with only 6.5 for paper towels. At a distance of 1.5m the jet air dryer recorded 11.5 colonies of yeast compared to zero for paper towels.

Thus, the report suggests that parents should take care to keep children away from the direct air stream of jet air dryers in washrooms to ensure that they are not unintentionally contaminating youngsters. According to leading Researcher & Microbiologist Keith Redway who spearheaded the entire research, the extent to which jet air dryers disperse microbes into the washroom environment is likely to have implications for policy guidance to facilities’ managers operating in a wide range of environments from sports venues and airports through to schools and hospitals.


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