Coronavirus – looking at the alternatives for drying our hands

Since the Coronavirus outbreak hit the UK, the message that keeping our hands clean through effective washing helps stem the spread and helps keep us safe has been very clear.

What has featured less in our daily newsfeed is how to dry our hands, and how equally important it is to do this properly.

So, how do we do this best and what should we use to help us?...

The facilities in today’s washroom – whether this is at work, or in restaurants and leisure venues – speak reams about the quality of the business and how much they care about the customer experience of their clients and staff. Looking good, together with the environmental implications of the paper towel and the public sway against them, has led us to install more and more increasingly high-speed and attractive-looking hand dryers in our washrooms.

The earliest pitches for hand dryers in a 1924 advertisement for the Airdry Electric Towel laid claim that the machine helped in ‘preventing the spread of contagious disease’.

However, a 2018 study by the American Society for Microbiology produced findings that

‘potential pathogens and spores could be dispersed throughout buildings and deposited on hands by hand dryers’.

Research doesn’t yet exist to say that bathrooms are a specific place where the Coronavirus can spread but senior medical adviser Christina Johns recently commented: “What we do know is that air blowers in the bathroom circulate all the germs and air particles around, and we know that is not a good thing. Certainly, any type of microbe that has increased longevity on surfaces is always concerning when you have big motors on, especially particles that have settled and are not yet wiped down with a bleach wipe. When a motor blows particles in the air, they become aerosolized particles. Then you inhale or touch your face with your hand, and there’s now an entry into your body.”

A senior doctor, Charlotte Fowler has also highlighted the potential danger to health to England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty and raised her "grave concern" that electric hand dryers in toilets could increase the risk of transmission of Coronavirus. She has even gone as far as calling for a complete turn-off of hand dryers until further research can be carried out.

Alternatives for hand drying are, of course, the paper towel or roller towel. Drying hands with these is certainly effective, however, as we know, the increased use of paper towels and wet wipes caused a huge problem in March as our British sewers became blocked and overflowed.

The ever-popular cotton roller towel provides a hygienic strong, efficient and low maintenance solution to hand drying. The dispenser design ensures they can withstand consistent and heavy use throughout the day. Regular checking for the towel reaching its end ensures a continuous and simple service is provided for employees and visitors.

As well as being mindful of scrubbing our hands after arriving home, or nose blowing, coughing and sneezing, and before preparing food, we need to look at providing the most appropriate washing and hand drying facilities in our washrooms.