Home  >  Carol LeBeau  >  Carol's Health Journal | 03. January 2013 - Be

Air Blowers or Paper Towels?

03. January 2013

I’m a pretty easy-going “go-with-the flow” kind of person.  Few things truly bug me.

OK.  Maybe a few things.  Drivers who don’t use their turn signals make me a little crazy.   So do people so afraid of being politically incorrect, they refer to Christmas trees as “Holiday Trees.”  (For the record, there is no other winter holiday for which a tree with lights and ornaments is used…except Christmas!)  Oh…and that ridiculous TV commercial touting the benefits of a drug for erectile dysfunction.  You know the one that ends with the couple sitting in separate bathtubs in the middle of nowhere! I go a little nuts every time I see it.

But the thing that really frosts me?  Restroom hand dryers!  The last time I made a visit to the ladies’ room at Nordstrom, one of their new hi-tech, supersonic hand dryers nearly blew my wedding ring right off my finger!  And even with the power of a jet engine, those dryers just take too long. I still had to wipe my hands on my pants to get them completely dry. 

I’m not alone in my disdain for hand dryers.  A recent study found the blowers turn off a lot of folks who would rather dry off with a paper towel. Well, we’ve all been vindicated.  

Mayo Clinic researchers have published a comprehensive study of every known hand-washing study done since 1970.  The authors concluded that drying skin is essential to staving off bacteria and that paper towels are superior to driers:

…They’re more efficient

…They don’t spatter germs

…They won’t dry out hands

…Most people prefer them (hello!)

With all the new technology in restroom hand driers, you might think blowers are more hygienic that a simple sheet of paper.  It’s just not true.  Environmental concerns are also eradicated by the paper towel.  The study concludes, “electric blowers use more energy than making a paper towel.”

Bottom line – while driers are hands-free, paper towels are faster and less likely to spread germs.

So, next time I’m at Nordstrom, I’m going to politely ask store management if they might consider replacing their mini blast furnaces with simple paper towels.

Anyone care to join me?


Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.