Drying Hands Best Using Towels, Not Dryer

The best way to dry hands after washing is using paper towels or using a dryer that doesn’t require rubbing hands together, researchers in Britain say.

Dr. Anna Snelling of the University of Bradford says not drying hands thoroughly after washing can increase the spread of bacteria. Using a conventional electric hand dryer — and rubbing one’s hands together — may contribute to the spread of bacteria.

Snelling and colleagues examined different ways of hand drying — paper towels, traditional hand dryers, which rely on evaporation, and a new model of hand dryer that rapidly strips water off the hands using high velocity air jets — and their effect on bacteria transfer from hands to other surfaces.

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, finds the most effective way of keeping bacterial counts low, when drying hands, was using paper towels. But if using an electric dryer — the model that rapidly stripped the moisture off the hands was best for reducing transfer of bacteria to other surfaces.

“Good hand hygiene should include drying hands thoroughly and not just washing,” Snelling says in a statement.