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Studies have shown that restroom automatic dryers inhibit the growth of bacteria on the skin by drying the skin more effectively than paper towels. Rub your hands with paper towels and you are probably missing some nooks and crannies that warm air from restroom hand dryers can reach. Even though you may think your skin looks dry and feels dry after using a paper towel, there are probably some moist places where bacteria could thrive.
Warm air hand dryers are more likely to get the hands thoroughly dry, as long as you give them enough time. The average model hand dryer takes about 30 seconds to dry hands--count to 30 when using an air dryer to make sure you get dry enough to keep the bacteria in check.
This is patently false. The British Journal of Nursing, Vol 8, issue 11, Pg 716-720 states that hot air dryers have been shown to increase the bacterial count by over 500%, as well as increasing local bacterial contamination. An article in Gould, in the Nursing Times, 1994, Nov 23-29 states that the use of paper towels is safer than hot air hand dryers because the mechanical action of drying contributes to the efficient removal of pathogens. Montville R, et al, International Journal of Food Microbiology, Vol. 73, 11 Mar 2002, page 305: "Hot air drying had the capacity to increase the amount of bacterial contamination on hands, while paper towel drying caused a slight decrease in contamination."
What studies have shown otherwise?
The ONLY time hot air dryers are more hygienic is if the patrons actually stay long enough to dry their hands completely versus the majority of patrons dry for only a few seconds and then dry their hands on their clothing. Paper towel dispensers (especially automatic electronic) are perceived as more hygienic and today there are many, many paper companies that create an eco friendly towel version. My favorite is Cascades tissue group that has 100% recycled paper and is probably the MOST eco-friendly paper company in north america.