Hand dryers unlikely to spread COVID-19, Microbiologist report confirms

Since the COVID-19 crisis began in the UK a few months ago, the nation’s media has been awash with stories about the virus, from daily updates from the Government to reports from front line workers and those tragically affected.

But sadly, there has also been a fair share of scaremongering, with uncorroborated facts and opinions resulting in sensational headlines and cause for unnecessary concern.

The issue of coronavirus has caused a lot of conversation in the cleaning and hygiene sector, with hand washing and drying, and surface cleansing remaining the main line of defence against the virus.

In recent weeks there have been a number of articles giving the paper towel industry a platform to spread false information about the cleanliness of hand dryers during this pandemic. We felt the need to speak out and we published our response in Tomorrow’s FM.

But we wanted to go one step further and commission a leading independent microbiologist to look into the claims in more detail. The resulting report by Dr. David L. Webber has confirmed that the use of hand dryers in the washroom does not contribute to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Citing various articles and reports into the spread of microbial contaminants, Dr.Webber confirmed that COVID-19 is spread by droplet transmission and contact with contaminated surfaces. However, he noted that the risk of contracting the disease should be no greater in the washroom than in any other communal space.

The report also referenced the ongoing debate around the most hygienic hand drying process. The findings showed that despite claims made by paper towel manufacturers to suggest that hand dryers contribute to the spread of viruses in the washroom, the reality is that both paper towels and warm air hand dryers offer a hygienic way to dry hands.

To read the full news announcement on the report findings, click here.

The report concludes that the most effective way to reduce the risk of infection in the washroom is to wash and dry hands effectively, using soap and hot water and either paper towels or a hand dryer, backing up the advice issued by the World Health Organisation to tackle COVID-19.

Outlining the most robust approach to handwashing during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, Dr.Webber suggests a four step process, including:

  1. Ensure hands are correctly washed for at least 20 seconds
  2. Dry hands thoroughly (10 seconds of drying with a paper towel or jet air dryer, or up to 40 seconds using a warm air hand dryer),
  3. Do not touch any surfaces after drying hands, and if you do,
  4. Use a hand sanitiser when outside the washroom.

The full report can be read here.