Hand drying not only removes moisture from the hands but it also involves friction, which further reduces the microbial load and the environmental transfer of microorganisms. And the transmission of microbes is more likely to occur from wet skin than dry skin.
But it’s not just as simple as drying your hands off in any old way, because how you dry your hands also matters. And this is particularly the case in hospitals and doctors surgeries. You may see stainless steel doors in your local hospital or doctors with arm pulls rather than door handles – that’s because your hands can quickly become one of the dirtiest places on your body, so it’s important not to touch anything that may harbour bacteria after you’ve just washed them.
Our research review has examined the importance of hand drying and the implications of wet hands for patients and healthcare workers. The findings highlight that hot air hand dryers and cloth roller towels can be a problematic way of drying your hands – especially in a hospital.
Our review mainly looked at the impact of hand drying on bacteria, not viruses. But what we found is still relevant when looking at the possible transmission and spread of coronavirus in hospitals and GP surgeries – particularly given the advice from the WHO regarding frequent handwashing.
Disposable paper towels offer the most hygienic method of hand drying. Indeed, warm air and jet air dryers are not recommended for use in hospitals and clinics for hygiene reasons. These types of hand dryers can increase the dispersion of particles and microorganisms into the air, contaminating the environment.