Hand Drying Methods Compared

An effective hand hygiene event doesn’t stop at handwashing. The final step of the handwashing process, hand drying, is just as important for skin health and can even help prevent pathogen spread.

Paper Towels


Many facilities offer paper towels as the final step in a hand hygiene protocol. The quality and cost of these towels can vary widely, but many plants supply their workers with inexpensive brown craft paper towels. While cheap, these products are abrasive and can cause skin irritation.

To avoid skin irritation, employees may opt not to use them at all, leaving hands wet or wiping their hands on clothing or other contamination points. Cheap paper towels, also have limited absorbency and dry unevenly, requiring employees to use more. Because of this, using a “cheaper” paper towel may actually end up costing you much more in the long run.

Air Dryers

Facilities may choose to avoid the use of paper towels entirely and instead install air dryers. While notorious for being eco-friendly, hand dryers  still come with significant environmental cost as they require considerable electricity to use. Not only does this electricity add to operating costs, but these dryers also pose significant safety risks.


The airflow from dryers circulates air (and pathogens!) from the room which can actually spread pathogens on to workers’ clean hands. Buttons or levers used to activate the dryer also serve as contamination touchpoints that can harbor dangerous pathogens.

Air dryers also require significant time to use and do not create a smooth workflow through hygiene zones. Instead of waiting, frustrated or hurried workers may give up on drying completely. Rather, they may dry their hands on clothing which can also cause contamination to clean hands, squander the results of an otherwise well-performed hand wash completely.

Here at Meritech, we have designed an integrated air curtain dryer that uses clean air to dry employees hands after completing a CleanTech® fully automated handwash. Learn more about the CleanTech® integrated air curtain enhancement.

Topics:Hand Hygiene Resources