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        Office Washrooms | Paper Towel Versus Hand Dryer: Which Is Better?


        I was recently asked by my one of our client if they should go for hand dryers or paper towels in their office washrooms hence this article.

        This is an age-old argument and there are plenty of reasons for installing Hand Dryers in the washrooms. But the problem is that there are very good reasons for having paper towels in the washrooms as well!

        So, which is best? Let’s look at it.

        FREE RESOURCE: download our free guide to creating a cleaner and greener office, with a handy printable checklist at the end

        Cost Comparison

        An example of an office with 50 staff using hand towels would on average spend £731 - £1200 (depending on the cost of towels) over a year.

        The total cost of energy efficient hand dryer using 2-4 watt/hours in the same scenario as above would cost £14- £28 a year to run plus the one-off cost of a hand dryer which can be anywhere from £99 to £900.

        So, here the consumer benefits greatly from installing hand dryers!



        A study was carried out by researchers from Queensland University of Technology and other organisations in Australia and China. ( source: https://www.nhs.uk/news/lifestyle-and-exercise/paper-towels-may-be-more-hygienic-than-air-dryers/). The study authors searched several databases for studies that compared at least two hand drying methods and reported results on different aspects of hand drying effectiveness. The various factors considered were:

        1. Amount of water removed
        2. Effectiveness of removal of bacteria
        3. Prevention of cross-contamination

        The authors compared several techniques, including paper towels, cloth towels, electric hot air dryers, jet air dryers and evaporation (air drying). This review suggests that using paper towels to dry the hands is more effective than other methods at actually getting the hands dry, reducing the number of bacteria on them, and preventing contamination of the washroom environment.

        So, without any doubts hand towels wins here!


        Most, modern hand dryers that use as little as 2-4-watt hours per dry have a negligible effect on the environment. In the office example as above, 117Kw/hours equates 63.18 kg/Co2 per year.

        Let us consider paper towels affect on the environment. In the manufacturing process, trees are destroyed and wood must be transported to factories where it is then made into the paper towels. When considering the overall environmental cost, we must also take into account what happens to a paper towel once used. It is safe to say the vast majority of hand towels are not recycled. Paper towels are made of organic material so when sent to landfill harmful greenhouse gases such as methane are released in the decomposition of this material.

        The same office example by using Hand Towels is creating 1287 kg/Co2!

        I think you can see who wins this argument.


        Surely, the Paper towel wins here. The latest salvo is an American poll of workers favouring the paper option as a recent pro-paper study suggested that new generation of Hand dryers has the same impact on ears as a close-range pneumatic drill and is thus especially dangerous for children’s ear because of the dryers typical positioning at the same height as a child’s head.


        A good reliable hand dryer has to win. They mean no one has to remember to restock them so they are always available. They also mean clean, tidy washrooms and no need for bins to take up room.

        As you can see from above, it is a quite divide. I think that Paper towel and Hand dryers both have a place and at the end of the day what benefits your business, costs, operations and the environment should decide between the two.

        Get My Office Cleaning Quote

        Green FM can supply your premises either of the above or if ensure we can provide both Hand dryers and paper towels. Please feel free to contact me should you need more information on manu@greenfacilities.co.uk.


        FM WorldIntelligent Handdryers & NHS


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