There is  a lot talked about hand washing, but what about drying your hands? What is the best way to dry your hands, and is it important? 

Since the 19th century, it has been documented that hand hygiene is an essential tool in the toolkit for reducing infection. Drying your hands efficiently reduces the risk of hands becoming a vehicle for transmission of infection. The infections in question can be in any setting, from home to operating theatre, from kitchen to manufacturing site. Below are two blogs about hand washing.


 Hand dryers

My personal experience of hand dryers is that the moist and intermittently warm environment creates perfect growth conditions for bacteria. Add to this a healthy dose of dust and bingo! the air emitted from the dryer is loaded with bacteria. Possibly with pathogenic bacteria. This air blows straight onto your lovely clean hands. Even the more recent evolutions are not cleaned regularly in most places that I visit. This results in a build up of wet dust collecting in the bottom of the gulley. Nice! 

You have dry hands, but they  may not be free from harmful micro organisms. The UV light that shines on your hands may look pretty but will have little effect on the bacteria and viruses that I am sure the marketing materials say it will, (having never seen these materials, this is pure conjecture). This is partly because most should have been removed during the hand washing process.

Paper towels

Paper towels create more mess. Is this true? Only if the users do not place them into a bin, which is regularly emptied. However, as a single use item, they dry hands efficiently. Once disposed of, the moist conditions of the hand dryers, with the associated dust is in a bin, captured away from food and drink.

My recommendation is to use paper towels in a food handling environment. Blue paper towels are preferred. This is to ensure that they are easily visible if they happen to become a physical hazard or foreign body.

In summary, drying your hands makes them less likely to be a vehicle for cross contamination. Wet hands transmit infection a lot easier than dry hands do. Using paper towels is better than electric hot air dryers.

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