The hand dryer vs. paper towel debate has been going on for some time, and it doesn’t look like it's slowing down any time soon! There is, of course, no clear-cut answer to this debate, and the decision is based on personal preference. However, plenty of factors come into play before deciding on either choice, such as hygiene, environmental impact, and the total cost.
At Choice Builder Solution, our line of bathroom accessories includes both hand dryers and paper towel dispensers. Here’s what you should consider to decide which ones to get for your office restroom.
Factors to Consider
Type of Facility
The kind of facility significantly influences the choice of a restroom’s hand-drying method. Paper towels are better suited for the quieter, less-populated office restrooms. Hand dryers in such offices can be a nuisance due to the noise they produce. On the other hand, paper towels for a large office may not be the best choice. You’ll need large quantities, meaning you’ll have to order them frequently and you’ll create a lot of waste.
Hand dryers have been perceived as more environmentally sustainable since they use minimal resources, mainly electricity, to run. On the other hand, paper towels made from recycled paper are another more sustainable option. Since paper towels mostly rely on non-renewable sources of energy, hand dryers are more efficient and environmentally sustainable.
You should consider the cost of buying a hand dryer versus the cost of maintaining the use of paper towels should be thought of before making the decision. Generally, purchasing a hand dryer is more expensive upfront and the costs of maintaining it are very minimal. On the other hand, paper towels are cheap to maintain but are more costly to maintain with time. The choice should be made depending on the usage of the restroom and the budget of the business.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are among the most commonly known regulations governing commercial and public restrooms. OSHA stipulates that toilet facilities provided to employees have to be clean to avoid exposing the employees to health hazards. Among other safety requirements, it is required that the owners of the establishment provide hand drying methods, either a hand dryer or sufficient paper towels.
According to the ADA, all hand dryers have to be within reach of persons with disabilities. The hand dryers also have to be either motion-sensing or touch-free as well as accessible for use by both right-handed and left-handed people.
Benefits of Hand Dryers
Although the initial cost of buying a hand dryer is high compared to installing a paper towel, using a hand dryer saves money over time. The entire process of making a paper towel from cutting trees, manufacturing the paper, and the chemicals used to treat it to the process of ordering and stocking them, the cost of maintaining paper towels is monumental.
Using hand towels is more expensive compared to the value of the electricity spent on maintaining a hand dryer. In less than a year, the salvaged expenses from using a hand dryer will pay for the initial investment and save a little more money.
Related: Hand Dryer
Hand dryers, by far, create less waste compared to paper towels. By just blowing hot air on the hands, a hand dryer sufficiently removes moisture. On the other hand, an average of two to three towels are required to dry the hands for the same effect.
A big challenge is handling the waste after use. Some companies have reported that towels end up strewn all over the restrooms and sometimes clog the toilets. Additionally, the disposal of the used towels is also a significant challenge. Although some of the towels are recyclable, they can only be recycled a few times before they have to be buried in a landfill. This is because they have been treated with special chemicals and fibers to enable them to absorb water without breaking up.
In contrast, hand dryers leave a minimal impact on the environment apart from the disposal of the actual dryer when it wears out.
Benefits of Paper Towels
Reduced noise and time to dry hands
Paper towels are a quick method to dry the hands and are much faster and less noisy compared to hand dryers. Some hand dryers have been seen to take as long as 30 seconds to dry. Some dryers are also very noisy and can be very conspicuous in quiet offices. Paper towels release minimal noise pollution and dry the hands faster and more effectively.
Efficient handling of residual moisture and germs
Bacteria and other organisms on the hands can be spread into the atmosphere and restroom surfaces by the air from the hand dryer, increasing the risk of catching infections in the washroom.
Hand dryers have also been reported to leave some residual moisture on the hands after use despite the claims by many manufacturers that their dryers can completely dry hands. A study done by the National Institutes of Health shows that inadequately dried hands are an effective conduit of the transfer of microorganisms in the environment.
Hand towels thoroughly dry the hands while trapping microorganisms in its fibers, therefore, effectively keeping the spread of bacteria to a minimum.
Paper towels can also be used to clean up spills, flush toilets, and open doors without physical contact.
Related: Paper Towel Dispenser
The debate between old-school paper towels and the newer hand dryers continues. Which is the better of the two? It’s hard to give a definitive answer, and the decision ultimately lies in the hands of the buyer.
The best solution for your office bathroom depends on the factors we listed above. Both hand dryers and paper towels have their advantages, which should be carefully weighed before pulling the trigger.
Once you decide, you can find both hand dryers and paper towel dispensers at Choice Builder Solutions.