The Complete Guide to Properly Drying Your Hands: 4 Effective Methods
Research indicates that damp hands are 1,000 times more likely to harbor bacteria than dry hands! This observation is supported by the work of Patrick et al. (1997), who emphasize the significance of drying hands using either a towel or hand dryer:
“Reduced the bacterial numbers translocating to skin, food and utilities on touch contact….. and achieved a 99.8, 94, and 99% reduction in the level of bacterial transferring from one surface to another associated with wet hands.”
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has raised questions about the future of non-touch appliances in washrooms, and our investigation into this matter yielded intriguing findings.
Here are the four effective ways to dry your hands:
Rubbing the hands together under a hand dryer: As the air encompasses the hands, it easily reaches between fingers and under nails, facilitating efficient drying. This method is commonly used with hand dryers.
Forwards and backwards, hands apart in or under a hand dryer: When using a "hands under" dryer, alternately rotating the hands is crucial to ensure thorough drying. This motion aids in the removal of water.
The Jidō Kansō movement in or under a hand dryer: Mitsubishi's Jet Towel Smart utilizes this circular hand movement, effectively scraping water away from the user and onto the wall, preventing wet floors
Manual rubbing the hands with a paper or cloth towel: This technique relies more on the user to ensure all parts of the hand, including between fingers and under nails, are thoroughly dry. While paper towels offer quick drying, their effectiveness depends on user compliance.
Considering the findings by EMLab P&K, as highlighted by CBT Nuggets, various surfaces carry astonishing amounts of bacteria per square inch, underscoring the importance of proper hand drying.
Amidst the global Coronavirus pandemic, both the World Health Organisation and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following regarding hand drying:
The World Health Organisation states: “To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.”
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remarks: “…the best way to dry hands remains unclear because few studies about hand drying exist, and the results of these studies conflict. Additionally, most of these studies compare overall concentrations of microbes, not just disease-causing germs, on hands following different hand-drying methods. It has not been shown that removing microbes from hands is linked to better health. Nonetheless, studies suggest that using a clean towel or air drying hands are best.”
While hand washing has standardized guidelines, there is no universally prescribed method for hand drying due to the variety of air outlets (blade style, rounded, multi-jet), styles (hands under or hands in), or types such as paper/cloth towels.
Despite the lack of standardization, some recommendations can be applied across different drying methods. Ensuring that every part of the hands, including the spaces between fingers and under the nails, is thoroughly dry is crucial for effective hand hygiene.
A noteworthy observation from previous studies is that rubbing the hands together during drying can naturally bring non-harmful bacteria to the skin's surface (Yamamoto et al., 2005; Snelling et al., 2011). However, not all bacteria are harmful, as emphasized by MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), stating that most bacteria are beneficial and only a small percentage causes illness.
AIKE AK2630s and AK2903 featuring Airblade technology, adopt a "hands under" design and recommend specific techniques for optimal drying. Mitsubishi's Jidō Kansō movement, utilized with their Jet Towel Smart, offers a faster drying alternative to traditional methods, reducing water blowback.
For "hands in" hand dryers like the AIKE AK2005H, users are advised to move their hands up and down slowly through the air. Mitsubishi raises concerns about this technique and suggests using the Jidō Kansō movement with their Jet Towel Slim, as it efficiently scrapes water straight down, preventing potential water blowback.
Paper towels or cloth towels
When using paper towels or cloth towels, it is essential to ensure complete drying, including between the nails and fingers. The effectiveness of this method depends largely on user compliance.
For optimal hand hygiene, it is crucial to first thoroughly wash hands before using a hand dryer or paper towel. Hand dryers are now equipped with touch-free sensor operation, and paper towel dispensers are also available in touch-free options, some incorporating antimicrobial additives for added protection against bacteria.
Caution should be exercised when using manual paper towel dispensers to avoid leaving wet, damp environments ideal for bacterial growth. Ensuring proper disposal and regular cleaning of paper towel dispensers in high-traffic areas, such as food processing facilities and hospitals, is necessary to prevent cross-contamination.
the effectiveness of hand drying techniques may vary due to the diversity of available modes and methods. It is essential to test what works best for you when faced with different drying products. Whether using paper towels or hand dryers, the main message remains the same: take the time to ensure every part of your hand is fully dry before touching anything else, including the spaces between your fingers and under your nails.
Remember, proper hand drying practices contribute to overall health and hygiene.
Stay healthy and keep your hands dry!