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Are paper towels or hand dryers more hygienic? © Alamy

Paper towels vs hand dryers: Which is more hygienic?

Published: 01st March, 2022 at 11:00
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Wet hands spread germs more easily than dry hands, so it's important to dry them thoroughly.

Although headlines on the hygiene of paper towels versus hand dryers might be seductive, scientists have tried and failed to come to a definitive consensus about which is really superior. When you look at the studies behind the headlines, you’ll often find they are funded by the paper towel or hand dryer industry. It’s difficult to compare the studies too, as airblowers vary in efficiency, and paper towels vary in thickness.


In truth, it probably doesn’t matter much. What’s more important is washing your hands regularly, with soap and water for 20 seconds, then using whatever is available to dry them.

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Asked by: Adam Johnson, Leeds


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Dr Nish Manek is a GP in London. She completed her medical degree at Imperial College and was runner-up in the University of London Gold Medal. Manek has also developed teaching courses for Oxford Medical School, and has penned articles for The Guardian and Pulse magazine.


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