At a time diligent hand-washing is more important than ever, it’s just as important to look at hand-drying methods. So what’s the most hygienic option — paper towels or jet air dryers? Scientists say there’s a clear answer!

Kimberly Clark Professional rounded up the studies done on hand washing solutions, and the majority show that single-use towels offer the most effective and most hygienic results compared to jet air dryers.

Jet air dryers may seem like a healthy option, but the research shows they’re not hygienic at all. In 2008, the University of Westminster found that air dryers deposit up to 42% more germs on users’ hands — so think twice before using a jet air dryer after washing your hands before lunch! 

In addition, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology showed that jet air dryers led to “significantly greater and further dispersal of viral particles”, blowing out up to 1,300 times more germ particles than drying with paper towels. Not everyone washes their hands well, so it’s no surprise that a 2014 study found E. coli and other gut bacteria on jet air dryer surfaces. That bacteria can get on your hands as you dry — and land on you as water droplets spray out — in some cases as far as 6.5 feet! 

On the other hand, paper towels reduce bacteria that remains on hands after washing by 77%! After reviewing 12 studies on the hygienic efficiency of different hand-drying methods, the Mayo Clinic concluded that paper towels can dry hands more efficiently, remove bacteria more effectively, and cause less contamination within the washroom than jet air dryers. 

It’s pretty clear that health authorities prefer paper towels. The World Health Organization’s global guidelines on hand washing in health care settings recommend paper towels over other hand-drying methods, advising users to “rinse hands with water and soap, and dry thoroughly with a single-use towel.”

So when you’re trying to decide the safest products for your restroom, go with science — go with hygienic touchless paper towel dispensers like Kimberly Clark’s In-Sight® Sanitouch® or the Scott® Essential* Touchless dispenser and keep your workplace safe from viral transmission.