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Author Topic: Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?  (Read 19788 times)

Offline pirunner

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Another one of my efficiency questions...Again, I'm not aware of the situation in the UK or rest of Europe, but here in the US there is generally a 50/50 split on what one will encounter in public bathrooms. There does not seem to be any standard or solid opinion on which method (paper towels or hand dryers) is actually more efficient or better for the environment; indeed, many facilities offer both options leaving the decision to the the user's discretion. Now, if you read any hand dryer, it will tell you how much better it is for the planet, saving trees and much much more. There are obviously many aspects to this question, as the two methods are significantly different. So how do they compare? What about their overall carbon footprint? 
« Last Edit: 07/04/2008 22:43:15 by chris »


 

Offline pirunner

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Re: Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #1 on: 30/03/2008 18:45:54 »
Here are lists of things that I think contribute to each alternative's footprint. They are really quite different.

PAPER TOWELS: tree/forest destruction (obviously depends on specific origin), transportation to facility (including all vehicles that ever transported the tree, pulp, finished product), disposal after use (garbage collection, decomposition, or recycling), plastic housing, excess use (those people that pull the handle 10 times before ripping)

HAND DRYER: electricity use(also depends on means of generation), plastic/metal housing, high velocity & fast drying vs. low velocity & slow drying, heat generation
 

Offline Seany

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Re: Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #2 on: 30/03/2008 18:47:56 »
I've also seen one of these around..


From each side, a jet of air is blown. It's not warm, just medium temperature.
I've only used it once, and seen it once, but it's very effective. And it says on there that it's about 3x more efficient and uses alot less energy.


However, if I was given a choice between paper towels or hand dryers, I'd opt the paper towels. It's much easier, faster and dries better. Not much of those around in UK anyway, mostly hand dryers.
 

Offline techmind

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Re: Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #3 on: 01/04/2008 00:27:10 »
I've also seen one of these around..


From each side, a jet of air is blown. It's not warm, just medium temperature.
I've only used it once, and seen it once, but it's very effective. And it says on there that it's about 3x more efficient and uses alot less energy.

Yep, I first came across those in Japan five years or so ago. They're now becoming more common over here. Better than a normal dryer, but like Seany I agree a paper towel is still faster/better!
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #4 on: 01/04/2008 01:21:24 »
I am a paper towel girl anyway too! It also helps remove any remaining germs that may have been missed during washing!
 

another_someone

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Re: Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #5 on: 01/04/2008 01:30:07 »
Have you not also overlooked cloth towels.
 

Offline pirunner

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Re: Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #6 on: 01/04/2008 03:26:21 »
I have also used that hand dryer ONCE. I thought it did pretty well. Cloth towels are another option, but I have really only encountered them in a few facilities. They are not common at all. However, I am not sure were they would lie on the impact scale OR the cleanliness scale.
 

Offline Carolyn

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Re: Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #7 on: 01/04/2008 04:51:22 »
Have you not also overlooked cloth towels.


Hardly ever see cloth towels in public restrooms here, it's been years since I've seen that.  I would sooner dry my hands on my pants than use a cloth towel that a complete stranger has used.  But then...I try not to touch anything in the restroom, including the door knob after I've washed my hands.
 

another_someone

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Re: Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #8 on: 01/04/2008 05:02:27 »
Have you not also overlooked cloth towels.

Hardly ever see cloth towels in public restrooms here, it's been years since I've seen that.  I would sooner dry my hands on my pants than use a cloth towel that a complete stranger has used.  But then...I try not to touch anything in the restroom, including the door knob after I've washed my hands.

I realise I was ambiguous, but I was not talking about the single cloth towels, but where you have a long towel on rollers, so you pull down a new section of towel each time you use it.  I agree that they are less common than they used to be (they always seemed to run out of towel very quickly).
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #9 on: 01/04/2008 09:31:50 »
there are very few here because of public health issues.... preshools have to have disposable towels... they cant use a cloth another child has touched..

I like individual cloth napkins at home and they are what I use for eating etc.but I keep disposable for spills and quick cleanups and draining fried goods..+ absolutely will dry my hands on inside of my shirt after a good shake if the public place has a communal pull downcloth dispenser as they are always yucky!
 

Offline Seany

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Re: Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #10 on: 01/04/2008 17:37:00 »
I am a paper towel girl anyway too! It also helps remove any remaining germs that may have been missed during washing!

I think America use paper towels ALOT!

I go to Costco in the UK.. My parents call it PriceClub, i don't know why..
But in the toilets, they have like a paper towel which you pull.. It's just like tissue and you can pull and pull forever.. Until you decide to cut it off!
 

Offline Seany

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Re: Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #11 on: 01/04/2008 17:37:24 »
But I just thought that it was a massive waste of paper.. The bin was like OVERLOADED and it was about 12:00 lunch.
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Re: Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #12 on: 07/04/2008 17:46:57 »
Did some research on things like this years ago and came to the conclusion that using energy to shift air quickly was better than heat for air hand dryers.  Tend to quite like the air blade dryers Seany showed.  In UK there is a strong tendancy to go over to hand presence activated dryers rather than push button fixed time.  I tend to keep a big tissue in my pocket and roll that round my hands in the stream that makes it very quick because the dryer dries the tissue as well.

Came across a totally automatic hand washer the other day.  You stick your hands in, it detects them and squrts you with soap then water then hot air and stops and resets when you take your hands out.
 

Offline Tork UK

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Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #13 on: 05/10/2009 10:20:50 »
Very interesting thread. While traditional warm air and new jet air type dryers are often presented as a hygienic solution, new research reveals the opposite to be true. Not only do they drastically increase the amount of bacteria on hands, they actually result in an increased contamination throughout the washroom.

Paper towels seem to be the clear winner when it comes to both hygiene and consumer preference.
 

Offline JnA

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Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #14 on: 05/10/2009 15:34:48 »
I read once that hand dryers are ineffective against germs because people don't stand there to allow for hands to dry properly, then rub the remaining moisture on their jeans...


Came across a totally automatic hand washer the other day.  You stick your hands in, it detects them and squrts you with soap then water then hot air and stops and resets when you take your hands out.

I love the future.
 

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Are paper towels better than an electric hand dryer?
« Reply #14 on: 05/10/2009 15:34:48 »

 

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