Paper towels or air hand dryers: Which is better for the environment and hygiene?

Paper towels or air hand dryers

If you had to choose between paper towels and air hand dryers, which one would be your choice? We usually choose what we have available. In restaurants or bars, there is usually an air hand dryer and we use it without thinking a lot about it. In our homes, many people still have regular paper towels without considering getting an air hand dryer. So, when a dilemma arises, there are some things you should know about both options, especially when it comes to environmental issues. Let’s check them out.

Which is better for the environment?

When it comes to ecology, there are a limited number of times that a paper can be recycled. The paper towels can be made of recycled paper. However, once they’ve been made, they can’t be recycled again. This is due to the processes done to make them strong enough to be capable of absorbing water. Also, cellulose fibers can’t be woven into new products forever. Once you’ve used a paper towel, it’s going to the trash.

On the other hand, using hand dryers doesn’t require any usage of paper, thus we could suppose it is a more ecological way. However, hand dryers do require the usage of electricity which is responsible for a certain amount of carbon dioxide emissions.

Which is better for hygiene?

You’ve probably seen more than once piled up, dirty paper towels in a trash bin of some bar or club toilet In public places, so many people use the bathroom that it is very easy for the trash to pile up and then you have a nest of germs spreading out there. Hand sanitizers might come in handy to clean your hands even better. Those who have to clean that up might end up touching those towels and contaminating themselves with some microbes. It is irresponsible to allow that.

Nevertheless, a similar issue can happen with hand dryers although you might not be aware of it. When you blow-dry your hands there is a possibility that some germs that survived the handwashing end up in the air. This can be avoided by washing your hands very thoroughly and always with soap. Just running your hands under the water and hand drying them later will have a counter effect.

Which one reduces the germs and pathogens?

Achieving a completely sterile environment in the bathroom is a difficult task. Paper towels don’t provide this since they still leave some deadly bugs such as MRSA or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. When it comes to air hand dryers, it is a little more complicated. We mentioned that there are people who only run their hands under the water and air dry them later, spreading all the germs around the room. In that case, hand dryers might even be less effective than hand towels. Nevertheless, for those of you who take good care of your hygiene and wash your hands properly, there will be no germs that might be spread. We can conclude that it depends on the user if the hand dryer will have an optimal effect.

Which is better for your budget?

Buying a hand dryer is practical and almost understood in bars and restaurants. Buying it for your home might be an investment that can seem expensive at first. But if you sum up all the expenses you have had on paper towels in the last couple of years, you might realize that it’s been more money than hand dryer costs. It’s a lot of wasted paper, especially knowing that people generally take more than one paper towel to make sure they dry their hands well. Commercial hand dryers are not a bad option at all, nor are they that expensive when you weigh the pros and cons. This way you could choose one that perfectly fits your needs and your bathroom. In case it’s for private use, you can have a small one that doesn’t need too much power. That way your electricity bill won’t be too much affected.

Noise factors

Noise factors

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

This one might be too obvious since paper towels don’t produce any noise and some hand dryers do. This factor is not that relevant for clubs and bars with loud music since the music will shut down the hand dryer sound. However, for any place that requires silence and peace, the constant sound of a hand dryer can be annoying. It seems that this is one of the advantages of paper towels and it might be. Nevertheless, it is good to know that there are hand dryers in the market that are perfectly silent. So, for those who don’t mind the noise, there are strong hand dryers that work very fast. For those who need silent ones, they are usually not so fast but that’s the price that must be paid. Some models have some adjustable options when it comes to power, so if you need them, inform yourself well before purchasing. Paper towels are always an option, just bear in mind that they’re usually not practical for busy and crowded places for the mess that they might cause.

The energy issues

We mentioned before that air hand dryers require the use of energy, so they are not completely ecological. Let’s discuss it more thoroughly. Paper towels like we said don’t require the use of energy, so this is a very simple advantage in their favor. Nonetheless, if you want another option, hand dryers can provide it. There are hand dryers that don’t include heaters. This way, the energy consumption is reduced. Although the heat makes the water evaporate off your hands, it is not that necessary. Heat wastes energy in the end, and if it can be excluded, it is for the best. Other than that, these models are less expensive. The aforementioned carbon production is also reduced in air hand dryers with no heating option. There is still one more advantage, the dry time is faster since the motor used for these devices is quicker. Since the technology is constantly improving, some models come with a switch that can be turned off if you don’t want a heating option and others that can adapt to the room temperature.

It is difficult to advise for or against both hand dryers and paper towels since they have their pros and cons. The purpose of this article is to help you see what is best for you. If you want to keep it simple, paper towels are perfectly fine as long you don’t pile them up and create a mess in the bathroom. If you have a bathroom that tends to be crowded, or you just want a smart bathroom for your home,  it is much more practical to use air hand dryers. Just make sure you choose an ecologically friendly model and wash your hands properly with soap before using it, to avoid spreading the germs.

Hi, I'm Raj Hirvate and I am a Tech Blogger from India. I like to post about technology and product reviews to the readers of my blog. Apart from blogging i'm a big Anime fan I Love Watching Naruto, One piece and Death Note.