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After washing your hands, how do you dry them? It’s a fact that 80% of micro-organisms that cause illnesses, are spread via hands. However, not so well know is – You can wash your hands for the suggested 15-20 seconds, but if they are not dried in the correct method, you could just as well leave the entire exercise all together.

It is well known that regular washing of hands prevents the spread of infection, but a staggering 62% of men and 40% of women admit they don’t bother. 

“While the correct washing of hands is critical in the reducing the transmission of bacteria and viruses, how hands are dried is just as crucial,” maintains Veronica Vivier of Nuwkem Hygiene. 

Evidence of this is found in a study by leading microbiologists, Dr. Patrick Kimmitt and Keith Redway of the University of Westminster. The transmission of viruses using three different hand-drying methods: a jet air dryer, a warm air dryer and paper towels was studied. The jet air dryer transmitted more virus particles further and at different heights, than the warm air dryer and paper towels. On average, the jet air dryer produced over 60 times more viral plaques than a warm air dryer and over 1300 times more than paper towels. High velocity air dryers are particularly likely to spread bacteria, as they blow water that contains bacteria and viruses off the hands, contaminating the user, other people and the washroom environment. 

FACT: Single-use paper towels spread the lowest number of viruses of all the hand-drying methods

The user of a jet air dryer is also likely to be exposed to around 800 times more potentially harmful Staphylococci. Staphylococci can cause skin infections, pneumonia, food poisoning, toxic shock syndrome and blood poisoning (bacteremia).

Results also showed that warm air dryers are less efficient than other methods in drying the hands. Damp hands are more likely to transfer bacteria. “Our findings clearly indicate that single-use paper towels spread the lowest number of viruses of all the hand-drying methods we tested,” concluded Dr Kimmitt and Keith Redway.

The World Health Organization actually recommends the use of paper towels when drying hands. When paper towels are used, there are fewer bacteria on the hands  and in the washroom as they absorb water and the micro-organisms – it is the most hygienic method of drying hands. The use of paper towels in washrooms should therefore be encouraged to ensure staff and clients have optimal protection from infection. 

FACT:The user of a jet air dryer exposes you to around 800 times more harmful bacteria

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