We’ve got answers!
Check out these commonly asked questions by your peers.
Is there an issue with Jet Air Dryers? Why should we all care?
Because 95% of adults don’t wash their hands long enough to remove bacteria and viruses, they can remain on hands after washing. So where do those remaining bacteria and viruses go when using a jet air dryer? They blow off, in water droplets, and can travel as far as 6-1/2 feet. And those aerosolized bacteria can linger in the air for up to 15 minutes. In fact, Jet Air Dryers can increase the germ count on fingers by up to 42%.
We think these are facts that people should know before investing in them for their businesses, or using them personally.
What does the science say about Jet Air Dryers?
The science is clear: Research shows that inner surfaces of Jet Air Dryers have up to 48 times more contamination than the average toilet seat. Among the findings from a University of Westminster study, the research found high-speed and warm-air dryers can harbor bacteria on surfaces and inside dryers. This could lead to cross contamination if users reach inside and touch the surface of the unit or when bacteria could be carried in the airstream and deposited on wet hands – these germs include fecal bacteria such as E. coli, as well as Staphylococcus and viruses.
An article in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal analyzed the hygienic efficacy of these hand-drying methods. Their recommendation? Paper towels are the best hand-drying option in locations where “hygiene is paramount,” such as hospitals and clinics. The same review article determined that air dryers cause cross contamination and deemed them unsuitable for these environments. “From a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers,” the study concluded.1
So your hands could be more contaminated after using a Jet Air Dryer than before you washed them?
Simply put, with a Jet Air Dryer, hands are more likely to be re-contaminated during the drying process than with towels, which could lead to increased spread of potential pathogens. So, yes. Your hands may actually be more contaminated than before you washed them.
Here’s what it means to you as a user: Jet Air Dryers force you to share bacteria and viruses. And because bacteria from a previous user can contaminate a Jet Air Dryer, you could be exposed to those bacteria when you use it.
Don’t filters inside the Jet Air Dryers make the surrounding air clean?
The filter ensures that the air blowing on hands is clean; however, it cannot stop the germs, bacteria and viruses found on wet hands from being aerosolized and blown back into the restroom or onto those nearby.
In fact, using a Jet Air Dryer can disperse up to 1,300 times more virus particles than just drying with paper towels, and a 2013 Eurofins study found that, 1 in 8 floors below Jet Air Dryers had Staphylococcal counts > 10 million (per 100 cm2). Even more surprising, 70% of the viruses spread by jet dryers landed at the height of a child's face.
What are the biggest advantages of paper towels over Jet Air Dryers?
Towels can scrape off germs than remain after washing: Single-use towels reduce bacteria on hands, removing up to 77% of the bacteria that remains after washing.
Towels may increase hand hygiene compliance: According to the Mayo Clinic Proceedings review paper, “…given the strong preference for using paper towels, hand hygiene adherence would possibly decrease if paper towels are not available in washrooms.”1
People prefer towels! An observational study during ISSA/Interclean in Amsterdam in 2016 revealed that 90% of people showed a behavioral preference for paper towels over Jet Air Dryers in the washroom. Faced with a choice of drying methods, 90% of men and 91% of women chose paper towels over Jet Air Dryers.
Ironically, in a study funded by Dyson, the use of paper towels consistently out-performed all the other drying techniques, especially with regard to bacteria left on the palms and fingertips.2
Jet air dryers can harbor bacteria on their surfaces and in their airstreams, which could lead to cross-contamination. The bacteria could be carried in the airstream and deposited on wet hands. In contrast, Scott® Hand Towels are personal, preferred and hygienic.
What other publications and organizations have concluded that paper towels should be used over Jet Air Dryers?
An article published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings analyzed the hygienic efficacy of different hand-drying methods. The article concluded that paper towels are the best hand-drying option in locations where “hygiene is paramount,” such as hospitals and clinics. It also determined that air dryers cause cross contamination and deemed them unsuitable for these environments. “From a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers,” the article specified. 1
In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) “Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care,” recommends that workers “dry hands thoroughly using single-use towels.” 3
Why are Scott® Hand Towels so important to solving this issue?
Scott® Hand Towels are sustainably created and delivered, and offer a more personal and hygienic choice when it comes to hand drying. They are made with UCTAD technology, a process that uses up to 17% less fiber, and contain Absorbency Pockets*, which help to absorb moisture – and remove bacteria that might be left behind by remaining water droplets—up to 77% more than other drying methods.
The Scott® Brand is the most well-known washroom brand in the US. Scott® Hand Towels are personal, preferred, and hygienic. And can help stop the spread of bacteria when it’s business critical.
Why is hygiene so important, particularly in the food industry?
If there’s anywhere that hygiene is absolutely critical for business, it’s in the food service and food processing industries. The average cost of a food recall is $10 million, in addition to brand damage and lost sales.
Furthermore, the CDC estimates that 48 million people in the US suffer a foodborne illness annually (1 in 6 people) with some of the leading pathogens being Norovirus, Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus. These microbes are more easily spread when food industry workers don’t use proper hand washing methods and then return to work with bacteria and germs on their hands. The spread of germs from the hands of food workers to food is an important cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in businesses that prepare and serve food. The CDC also estimates that foodborne illnesses cause more than 127,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
Effective hand washing and proper drying remains our best defense.
Jet Air Dryers harbor bacteria on their surfaces and in their airstreams--bacterial counts on the surfaces Jet Air Dryers can be up to 1,000 times higher than on a towel dispensers and staphylococci up to 800 times higher. And bacteria on unit surfaces could lead to cross contamination if users touch the surface of the unit or if bacteria are aerosolized in water droplets that could deposit on hands during use.
Simply put: Increasing the potential for cross-contamination in the food industry can be bad for business.
From an environmental standpoint, are Jet Air Dryers better?
At Kimberly-Clark Professional*, we strive to design products that reduce environmental impact across the entire product lifecycle. Our Scott® Brand towels are designed with these principles in mind. For example:
- The majority of Scott® and Kleenex® Brand towels are FSC and ECOLOGO certified and meet the EPA standards for minimum post-consumer waste content.
- The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) is an international, non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC prohibits deforestation, including conversion of natural forests to plantations. It also protects rare old growth, High Conservation Values, and Rare, Threatened and Endangered species.
- ECOLOGO Certifications are multi-attribute environmental certifications that indicate a product has undergone rigorous scientific testing, exhaustive auditing, or both, to demonstrate compliance with stringent environmental performance standards. To earn the ECOLOGO mark, products must demonstrate significantly reduced environmental impact including energy reduction, materials, energy, manufacturing and operations, health, and environment.
- In fact, Kimberly-Clark Professional* currently holds the largest portfolio of FSC certified towel and tissue products in North America, with nearly 97 percent of its towel and tissue codes carrying this certification.
- Kimberly-Clark North America mills diverted over 95% of manufacturing waste from landfills in 2016.
- Many Scott® and Kleenex® Brand towels are made with UCTAD technology, a process that uses up to 17 percent less fiber, and contain ABSORBENCY POCKETS*. This enables people to use fewer towels and that means less waste.
- Only Kimberly-Clark Professional* has used the ASTM D6868-11 standard to certify that all of our entire hand towel portfolio is compostable so customers don’t send used hand towels to the landfill.
In addition, Kimberly-Clark Professional* is leading the way in new products containing non-tree fiber. At Kimberly-Clark Professional*, we provide product solutions that deliver high performance and reduce environmental impact.