What is better, a washroom hand dryer or paper towels?
For many years there has been an ongoing debate about whether a washroom hand dryer is the better solution or are paper towels the preferred method of drying hands in a public washroom.
When it comes to cost of operation there is no question; a washroom hand dryer wins hands down, the energy that a hand dryer uses costs far less than paper towels. Depending on the type of hand dryer the cost per dry can be as low as .02 cents, a paper towel averages 1.0 cents. If you assume that an average visitor to the facility will use two towels, a $20 electric bill would equate to over $200 in paper towels. The fact is; it costs more to make a paper towel, even using recycled raw material, than it does to dry hands under a washroom hand dryer.
The waste of money is one thing; paper towel waste is something altogether different. When the washroom is fitted with hand dryers there is far less demand on the maintenance department; they don’t have to empty waste containers as often. Even worse, vandals seem to enjoy using paper towels to plug toilets and sinks which requires maintenance f course, but also inconveniences other users.
From an environmental point of view there is no comparison, a washroom hand dryer is simply superior to paper towels.
In defense of paper towels however there is the argument that hand dryers are less hygienic, that they blow bacteria throughout the room. Many modern hand dryers are fitted with HEPS filters, the air that comes out of the nozzle is actually cleaner than the air that entered the dryer. These dryers are very common in areas such as food service and preparation as well as medical facilities. For those that argue that touching the on button of a hand dryer is a source of contamination; this problem has been solved as well with the introduction of sensor controlled dryers.