The Big Decision: Paper Towels or Hand Dryers?

It’s time to settle the great hand-drying debate once and for all: should your facility use paper towels or hand dryers?

Air Dryer or Paper Towels?

Why? Because in the age of COVID-19 it’s not really a debate any longer. We’ve known for some time that air dryers aren’t as good at containing the spread of airborne germs. While always a concern, it’s a top priority today for facility managers and cleaning teams.

Let’s break down a few critical areas you always want to consider.


A University of Westminster study examined the spread of viral germs across three common hand-drying methods: paper towels, a hot air dryer and a jet air dryer. The study found that jet and warm air dryers spread significantly more viral germs than paper towels. And, germs can remain in the air around air dryers for up to 15 minutes. Whoa – thinking about that pre-COVID is pretty interesting. Thinking about it during a pandemic is anxiety inducing.

Ultimately, paper towels were found to spread the lowest amount of germs from users’ hands into the rest of the bathroom. Researchers found that wiping your hands on a paper towel effectively removes some germs that may linger after hand-washing. Also, paper towels promote more hygienic practices when used for turning off faucets and opening restroom doors.


Believe it or not, paper towels can be an affordable and eco-friendly option. From a cost perspective, many paper towel options are derived from recycled material, whereas more electricity is pulled to run an air dryer. Certain models sense motion and dispense appropriate towel lengths to reduce waste and save money.

Air dryers use energy, and certain paper towel products will impact landfill waste. Do your research and purchase dissolvable, biodegradable paper towels to lessen your impact on the environment.

Short-term Cost

It’s no secret air dryers are the less expensive option. Facility costs may decrease with air dryers in restrooms, but employees and visitors are more likely to leave with wet or damp hands. Even though paper towel dispensers can pose challenges when it comes to waste and overuse, it’s a more effective method for drying hands faster and completely.

 The Verdict

In the end, air dryers are less expensive in the short term, but touchless paper towel dispensers are the clear winner when it comes to hygiene and germ control. Each method’s sustainability depends on choices you make about product sourcing and usage.

Lastly, providing your employees and customers with paper towels promotes a cleaner restroom environment. It can contribute to slowing the spread of germs such as COVID-19. That helps promote public health. And, it gives your employees and visitors the confidence that you’re putting their health at the top of your priority list.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Social Media

Our Categories

Need Help? Just let us know what you need and we'll get right back to you!