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Hands play a huge role in cross-contamination and are one of the largest risk factors in the spread of pathogens. Historically, the idea of hand hygiene practice has been associated with hand washing, however, there is an increasing recognition of the importance of antimicrobial hand gels and hand drying in this process. There is also recognition that what is important in hand hygiene is the integrated benefits of washing, rinsing and drying, as well as the prevention of subsequent recontamination.
Thorough hand drying after washing is an essential component of good hand hygiene practise particularly as the risk of cross-contamination is more likely to occur from wet hands than dry hands. One study found that wet hands can spread up to 1,000 times more bacteria than dry ones, especially if sub-optimal hand washing has taken place. Before deciding on the ideal hand drying method, businesses should compare different types of hand drying methods to understand which one is best suited to their requirements and want to invest in such as drying hands with paper towels or an automatic hand dryer.
The points below outline the relative merits of different hand drying methods:
The hand drying method chosen will depend on the priorities of the washroom owner. However, if the risk of cross-contamination, the removal of moisture and microorganisms and maximising compliance are the main priorities to practise good hand hygiene in the business, then a towel based system is probably the best solution.
The best drying method should be selected if it is widely preferred by the employees, energy efficient, reduces the maximum amount of moisture and microorganisms from the hands and is quick to use. No individual hand drying method fulfils the listed requirements, however, all should be managed and maintained appropriately.