This study compared the efficacy of using paper towels (PT), warm air dryers (WAD) and jet air dryers (JAD) after hand washing in terms of microbiological effectiveness and potential for dispersal of pathogens.
Microbial flora on palms and fingertips of 30 subjects were sampled before washing hands and after drying. Walls in the vicinity of a PT dispenser, WAD and JAD in female and male washrooms were sampled for the presence of viable microorganisms. Mean microbial counts significantly reduced after drying with PTs (palms t= 2.67, p <0.05; fingertips t=4.44, p<0.01) significantly increased after using WADs (palms t=3.11, p<0.01; fingertips t=2.06, p<0.05), but there was no difference with JAD (palms t= 1.85, p>0.05; fingertips t=0.97, p>0.05). Some dispersal of organisms was detected on the washroom walls, with the least distribution around PT dispensers and unusual opportunistic pathogens isolated from the JAD units.
The authors concluded that PTs are more effective at drying hands than WADs and JADs. They are more likely to be used appropriately and lead to minimal dispersal of microorganisms from wet hands.
The article can be found at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1757177418789485
Pitt, S.J., Crockett, S.L. and Andreou, G.M., 2018. The contribution of hand drying in prevention of transmission of microorganisms: Comparison of the efficacy of three hand drying methods in the removal and distribution of microorganisms. Journal of Infection Prevention, p.1757177418789485.