Wins in Effectiveness & Speed
Paper towels, single-use paper towels, are the clear Best Practice for hand drying in the fast paced professional environment of healthcare. Paper is both effective and fast, the two critical elements of choice.
Electric hand dryers have NO PLACE in healthcare, mainly because they are neither effective nor fast. Most users walk away with wet hands and wet hands transfer bacteria 500 times more readily than dry hands. Others wipe them dry on lab coats and other soiled surfaces. This can lead to reactivating dormant bacteria and re-igniting a chain of cross-contamination. Pathogens thrive in wet, warm conditions. Wet hands are also a source of other accidental injuries and increase the dangers of dropping medicines, food and equipment.
Paper towels offer a measurable advantage in handwashing effectiveness.
According to the study "Hand Washing Facts to Know: Paper Towels vs. Hot Air Dryers," using paper towels after washing helps remove bacteria from hands and reduces general bacterial counts by an average of 58 percent, whereas hot air dryers not only increase the bacterial count on the hands (up to 438 percent with some bacteria), but can also blow out bacteria from inside the dryer.
- Paper towels help brush off and remove germs loosened by washing.
- Electric dryers take more time than using a paper towel. The average time to achieve 95 percent dryness is 12 seconds with a paper towel versus 43 seconds with a hot air dryer. Few people use hot air dryers long enough to ensure more than 55 to 65 percent dryness.
However, all paper towels are not the same. Highly absorbent task-textured paper towels are born from paper mills that have access to high absorbency, long-fiber, high-bulk pulps. Paper mills with specialized equipment that can process, form, dry and compress these pulps into toweling that is both highly absorbent and has excellent wet strength.
A properly engineered process yields a towel that is pleasant to use, dries hands quickly and extends cleaning effectiveness.
Finally, selecting the proper TOWEL DISPENSER is very important. Hands-free towel dispensing prevents cross-contamination by eliminating the often germ-laden handles and levers. Users touch only the towels they need for hand drying while the supply is kept clean, dry, and sanitary inside the dispenser. Select a supplier who provides hands-free towel dispensing. Cranks, levers, dials, buttons are all concentrated sources for cross-contamination. Don't defeat the good work done in washing by immediate recontamination.
The Paper Towel Selection Checklist:
- Eliminate air dryers. Air is a best friend for pathogen reproduction.
- Slow dry time promotes these bad practices
- Drying hands on lab coats, pants, etc
- Working with wet hands, endangering staff
- Select paper towel with best properties for your situation
- Textured for maximum absorbency
- Smooth surface paper absorbs less water
- Does not fall apart when wet
- Install hands-free dispensers
- Hands should only touch the paper towel
- Insure dispenser is easy and fast to load/service
- Select a reliable supplier/distributor with short lead times in your location
- One source for supply and service of towels and dispenser.
- Locate convenient to handwash sink and soap.