Proper Washing and Drying Techniques for Global Handwashing Day

In honor of Global Handwashing Day on October 15, we’re spreading the word about proper washing and drying techniques. This day provides the opportunity to work together through coordinated action to advance universal hand hygiene. This is crucial, now more than ever, as new information comes out surrounding the rise of the Delta variant of the coronavirus,  which has been described as more contagious than previous virus strains.

The Importance of Handwashing

Proper handwashing is so vital to public health that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compares it to a “do-it-yourself vaccine.”

But, what makes it so important? First, we use our hands to touch everything—cell phones, keyboards, elevator buttons, faucets, doorknobs, gas pumps, etc. Between each of those touchpoints, we also touch our faces an average of 16 times per hour, providing any germs and viruses we’ve picked up easy access into our body through our eyes, nose and mouth.

Regular, thorough handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs and prevent their spread. According to the CDC, “lathering with soap and scrubbing your hands for 20 seconds is important to this process because these actions physically destroy germs and remove germs and chemicals from your skin. When you rinse your hands, you wash the germs and chemicals down the drain.” But the process doesn’t end with handwashing alone.

The Role of Hand Drying

While the rationale for handwashing is easily understood, many people overlook the equally important task of hand drying. Wet hands are more likely to pick up bacteria and have been shown to be 1,000 times more likely to transfer germs than dry hands, so your hands are never fully clean until they are clean and dry.

Cleaning hands and removing germs is a collective effort between soap, water and drying methods, but Excel Dryer products are available with purifying benefits of their own. Our XLERATOR® Hand Dryer (and all of our high-efficiency hand dryers) offers a touch-free, hands-under design to remove excess touchpoints during the washing and drying process. Our hygiene-maximizing options also include Antimicrobial Wall Guards and a HEPA filtration system that removes 99.999% of viruses from the airstream.

The Evidence

While the evidence for the importance of hand drying is clear, there is a lot of misinformation about the most sanitary and efficient way to dry hands. We hope to clear that up for you with the most recent evidence supporting the efficacy of hand dryers.

  • During the height of COVID-19 in 2020, researchers at the University of Arizona completed an exhaustive two-year “scoping review” of 293 studies. This “study of the studies” is considered the most comprehensive review of its kind. While trying to determine which hand drying method is more hygienic, the researchers “found no empirical data to support one hand drying method over another from a health and safety perspective.”
  • Understanding there was confusion regarding hand washing and drying steps, the CDC recently updated their hand washing and drying materials and their hygiene visual materials. Under new guidelines, the CDC states, “There is currently not enough scientific evidence to determine if using a clean towel or an air hand dryer to dry your hands is more effective at reducing germs on your hands. Both are effective ways to dry your hands.”
  • Those findings support recommendations from the World Health Organization that everyone “frequently clean [their] hands…” and “dry [them] thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.”
  • A study by Laval University in Quebec City has suggested that paper towel use can actually deposit germs on hands. Their research revealed 17 species of bacteria on unused, recycled paper towels—the most common type was Bacillus, which causes food borne illness.

One thing is certain: properly washing and drying your hands frequently throughout the day can help prevent the spread of dangerous bacteria and viruses. Please contact us to learn more about how our groundbreaking line of hand dryers can help keep your facility more hygienic.