The Hygienic Efficacy of Different Hand-Drying Methods: A Review of the Evidence

School of Public Health and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Impact Factor: 5.81). 05/2012; 87(8):791-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2012.02.019
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The transmission of bacteria is more likely to occur from wet skin than from dry skin; therefore, the proper drying of hands after washing should be an integral part of the hand hygiene process in health care. This article systematically reviews the research on the hygienic efficacy of different hand-drying methods. A literature search was conducted in April 2011 using the electronic databases PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science. Search terms used were hand dryer and hand drying. The search was limited to articles published in English from January 1970 through March 2011. Twelve studies were included in the review. Hand-drying effectiveness includes the speed of drying, degree of dryness, effective removal of bacteria, and prevention of cross-contamination. This review found little agreement regarding the relative effectiveness of electric air dryers. However, most studies suggest that paper towels can dry hands efficiently, remove bacteria effectively, and cause less contamination of the washroom environment. From a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers. Paper towels should be recommended in locations where hygiene is paramount, such as hospitals and clinics.

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    ABSTRACT: Background The efficiency of hand drying is important in preventing pathogen spread, but knowledge surrounding which drying methods contribute least towards contamination of the environment and users is limited. Aim To compare the propensity of three common hand-drying methods (jet air, warm air dryers, and paper towels) to contaminate the environment, users, and bystanders. Methods Hands were coated in lactobacilli to simulate poorly washed, contaminated hands, and dried. The investigation comprised 120 air-sampling tests (60 tests and 60 controls), divided into close and 1 m proximity from the drying process. Separate tests used hands coated in paint to visualize droplet dispersal. Findings Air bacterial counts in close proximity to hand drying were 4.5-fold higher for the jet air dryer (70.7 cfu) compared with the warm air dryer (15.7 cfu) (P = 0.001), and 27-fold higher compared with use of paper towels (2.6 cfu) (P < 0.001). Airborne counts were also significantly different during use of towel drying versus warm air dryer (P = 0.001). A similar pattern was seen for bacterial counts at 1 m away. Visualization experiments demonstrated that the jet air dryer caused the most droplet dispersal. Conclusion Jet air and warm air dryers result in increased bacterial aerosolization when drying hands. These results suggest that air dryers may be unsuitable for use in healthcare settings, as they may facilitate microbial cross-contamination via airborne dissemination to the environment or bathroom visitors.
    Journal of Hospital Infection 08/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.jhin.2014.08.002 · 2.78 Impact Factor
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    BMC Public Health 01/2014; 14(1):96. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-14-96 · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Handwashing with soap is the single most cost-effective public health intervention that can decrease the incidence of various communicable diseases in developing nations. Unfortunately, handwashing interventions in resource-poor communities are often hindered by promotion of official handwashing guidelines that assume soap, clean water, and towels are readily available. In this article, the current handwashing recommendations and their applicability to hygiene interventions in developing nations were examined. The results of this review suggested that a new handwashing paradigm is needed to address the varying resources available for hand hygiene. Thus, a novel community handwashing guide was developed. This guide emphasizes the importance of increasing access to physical handwashing resources in developing communities, and can be applied to communities regardless of their socioeconomic status. The community handwashing guide promotes sustainable, incremental improvements in hygiene within a community, and is a more feasible approach than previous recommendations.
    03/2014; 6(1). DOI:10.1002/wmh3.80


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May 15, 2014