Short report| Volume 89, ISSUE 3, P215-217, March 2015

Download started.


Comparison of different hand-drying methods: the potential for airborne microbe dispersal and contamination

  • E.L. Best
    Corresponding author. Address: Microbiology Department, Old Medical School, Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds LS1 3EX, UK.
    Microbiology Department, Old Medical School, Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds, UK
    Search for articles by this author
  • K. Redway
    Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Westminster, London, UK
    Search for articles by this author
Published:December 17, 2014DOI:


      Efficient washing and drying of hands is important in prevention of the transfer of micro-organisms. However, knowledge surrounding the potential for microbial contamination according to hand-drying methods is limited. This study assessed the potential for airborne microbe dispersal during hand drying by four methods (paper towels, roller towel, warm air and jet air dryer) using three different models. The jet air dryer dispersed liquid from users' hands further and over a greater range (up to 1.5m) than the other drying methods (up to 0.75m), demonstrating the differing potential risks for airborne microbe dissemination, particularly if handwashing is suboptimal.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of Hospital Infection
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Burton M.
        • Cobb E.
        • Donachie P.
        • Judah G.
        • Curtis V.
        • Schmidt W.P.
        The effect of handwashing with water or soap on bacterial contamination of hands.
        Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011; 8: 97-104
        • Patrick D.R.
        • Findon G.
        • Miller T.E.
        Residual moisture determines the level of touch-contact-associated bacterial transfer following hand washing.
        Epidemiol Infect. 1997; 119: 319-325
        • Taylor J.H.
        • Brown K.L.
        • Toivenen J.
        • Holah J.T.
        A microbiological evaluation of warm air hand driers with respect to hand hygiene and the washroom environment.
        J Appl Microbiol. 2000; 89: 910-919
        • Ansari S.A.
        • Springthorpe V.S.
        • Sattar S.A.
        • Tostowaryk W.
        • Wells G.A.
        Comparison of cloth, paper, and warm air drying in eliminating viruses and bacteria from washed hands.
        Am J Infect Control. 1991; 19: 243-249
        • Matthews J.A.
        • Newsom S.W.
        Hot air electric hand driers compared with paper towels for potential spread of airborne bacteria.
        J Hosp Infect. 1987; 9: 85-88
        • Blackmore M.A.
        • Prisk E.M.
        Is hot air hygienic?.
        Home Economist. 1984; 4: 14-15
        • Blackmore M.A.
        A comparison of hand drying methods.
        Catering Health. 1989; 1: 189-198
        • Meers P.D.
        • Leong K.Y.
        Hot-air hand driers.
        J Hosp Infect. 1989; 14: 169-171
        • Snelling A.M.
        • Saville T.
        • Stevens D.
        • Beggs C.B.
        Comparative evaluation of the hygienic efficacy of an ultra-rapid hand dryer vs conventional warm air hand dryers.
        J Appl Microbiol. 2011; 110: 19-26
        • Gustafson D.R.
        • Vetter E.A.
        • Larson D.R.
        • et al.
        Effects of 4 hand-drying methods for removing bacteria from washed hands: a randomized trial.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 2000; 75: 705-708