It’s a debate that’s as old as the hills and still goes on to this day. In fact, ask any sample group of people whether they believe paper towels or hand dryers represent the better choice and chances are you’ll find them split pretty evenly down the middle. Everyone has their own unique opinion as to why exactly their choice wins the day, but when it comes to genuine facts, science and evidence…well, let’s just say a lot of the theory doesn’t in fact pan out in real life.

Of course there’s much to be said for personal preference – some simply prefer one over the other for no specific reason and there’s nothing to say they’re in the wrong. If, on the other hand, you look at the various arguments for and against each in a more factual sense, it’s technically pretty difficult to deny that there’s a clear winner between the two and perhaps not the most obvious contender either.

Electric Hand Dryers vs Paper Towels – Which Wins The Race?

Let’s look at the specifics of each in accordance with what matters.

1 – Effectiveness

First up, the most common of all arguments voiced against automatic dyers is that they’re largely unable to give the user’s hands a complete and effective drying. They get much of the water off, but inherently leave behind a fair bit of moisture which in turn makes them ineffective. To say this is an unjustly negative reputation for the electric dryer would be unfair, as for quite a few years hand dryers were indeed pretty hopeless when it came to drying hands properly. These days however, the very best dryers on the market for the industry’s leading brands are simply in another league to those of years gone by and cannot be compared in terms of effectiveness.

As such, if it’s a genuinely modern and high-end dryer that’s being considered, electric dryers can be just as effective as hand towels.

2 – Efficiency

In terms of efficiency, it’s not until you take time out to think about how many paper towels are thrown out each day that you realise how important electric dryers are for the environment. Take the average office building with say two-dozen bathrooms – each of which is guaranteed to get through a couple of hundreds paper towels a day at least. This equates to tens of thousands of towels per week, which when multiplied by the tens of thousands of businesses in operation up and down the UK amounts to millions of paper towels being tossed in the trash every single day. And even if they’re then recycled, it’s still a process that can’t be called efficient when held in comparison to a waste-free hand dryer.

3 – Hygiene

Chances are there will always be much debate as to how hygienic or otherwise automatic dryers really are. Somewhere, sometime and at the hands of some random individual, the theory was born that electric dryers are in fact wholly unhygienic and leave hands so much less sanitary than had paper towels been used. However, when actual scientific tests have been carried out to ascertain the truth, high-end hand dryers have proven to be every bit as effective as paper towels. There’s really little to no difference in it whatsoever, so it’s equal point on both sides when it comes to hygienic hand drying.

4 – Costs

It’s of course inevitable that a high-end electric dryer is going to cost more by way of initial investment than a small arsenal of hand towel dispensers and the towels themselves. However, when considered over the long-term, the running costs of electric dryers are next to non-existent, while those associated with refilling towel dispensers are both on-going and potentially rather lofty. It costs so little to use a quality hand dryer on a per-user basis that it’s as good as free once it’s up and running – to such an extent in fact that the majority of good dryers pay for themselves in cost reductions after less than a year of being in operation.

5 – Maintenance and Upkeep

Last but not least, it’s not as if the average paper towel dispenser is likely to need any expensive or complex repairs during its life, but at the same time what is needed is a constant supply of new towels and the removal of the used towels from the respective receptacle. Not the end of the world, but still an additional duty to take care of and a cost in its own right. By contrast, as soon as a quality dryer is installed and operational, there’s generally no need for any kind of maintenance or upkeep whatsoever for several years at least – more boxes ticked for convenience and cost-savings alike.

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