Shining a Spotlight on Hand Hygiene During National Handwashing Awareness Week

Germs are an invisible issue. From doorknobs and stairway railings to public transportation and almost everything else under the sun, microscopic life can spread disease within a community with little warning. But there is a simple defense against infection, and during National Handwashing Awareness Week from December 1–7, we’re shining a spotlight on hand hygiene and the ways it can keep you and those around you healthy.

Handwashing is currently at the forefront of public discourse due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as proper handwashing can help prevent many common illnesses. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a team of London researchers estimates that “if everyone routinely washed their hands, a million deaths a year could be prevented.”

A proper handwashing session should last 20 seconds or more—a simple yet effective way to protect against sickness.

Five Steps to Hand Hygiene

Washing hands is second nature to many, but it’s always good to get a refresher on the proper steps, as outlined by the CDC:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water. Turn off the tap and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

While the soap-and-water steps are certainly key to the handwashing process, let’s focus on keeping germs away at the last step. In a world where 80% of infections are spread through touch, XLERATOR® Hand Dryers offer touchless operation and can completely dry hands in as little as 8 seconds*. XLERATORs fitted with HEPA Filtration Systems have been proven to remove 99.999% of viruses from the airstream, adding additional protection against the spread of disease.

But what about paper towels? A study of hand drying methods by the Mayo Clinic found that there are “no statistically significant differences” between paper towels, cloth towels, warm forced air from a dryer and spontaneous room air evaporation when it came to the efficiency of removing bacteria from already-washed hands.

It may surprise you to learn that one study found 17 species of bacteria on recycled and unused paper towels, including Bacillus, which can cause food poisoning. That means that a person could be contaminated with germs just by touching a paper towel immediately after washing their hands.

Dry Hands Are Clean Hands

Have you ever washed your hands in a public restroom only to discover that the paper towel dispensers are empty? Did you know that that wet hands are 1,000 times more likely to transfer germs than dry hands? So, if hand dryers aren’t available when paper towels are scarce, walking out of the restroom with dripping hands could help spread disease.

Our XLERATOR dryers eliminate the labor and maintenance that goes into paper towels by providing an easy, environmentally conscious and hygienic alternative. And if price is a worry, they also provide a 95% cost savings versus paper towels.

These cost savings are particularly important for high-traffic public environments, like train stations. Just take Grand Central Terminal in New York City for instance—more than 750,000 daily visitors using the station’s paper towel-reliant restrooms led to dirty spaces and high expenses. Once Grand Central Terminal installed 24 XLERATOR Hand Dryers, the station saw huge cost savings, more hygienic restrooms and an improved guest experience.

Getting sick doesn’t have to be in your plans this winter. It only takes 20 seconds with soap and water (along with a good dry from an XLERATOR Hand Dryer!) to make sure your hands are clean. Whether you’re out in public or at home, help stop the spread of illness by following this simple infection control measure.

*Dry time and energy use testing performed by SGS International on standard XLERATOR Hand Dryer with 0.8″ nozzle to 0.25g or less of residual moisture, pursuant to the UL Environment Global Product Category Rules (PCR) for Hand Dryers.