A recent study in the Journal of Hospital Infection tested three methods for drying the hands in public areas. As strange as this may sound, the impetus for this inquiry was founded in the discovery that hands left wet or damp after washing may still carry bacteria and viruses. Drying finishes the job.
Jet-Air Dryers. Everyone loves these, because they are fast. The problem though is that they spread four times as many microbes as regular hot-air dryers. The velocity of these units blasts bacteria and viruses upward – right to your nostrils, mouth and eyes.
Warm-Air Dryers. Fewer airborne microbes are propelled into the air with these common dryers because the intensity of air movement is less than that of jet-air dryers. The problem with these units though rests not with the machine, but with those using it. People tend to get impatient – these take longer to dry the hands – and walk away with wet, germ-laden hands that ultimately get wiped on the pants. Now the bacteria are on your clothes.
Paper Towels. While paper products are not as environmentally friendly as the other two options, they are the best bet for public accommodations, such as a reflexology or massage operations. They spread 27 fewer microbes than a jet-air dryer. I think this is especially important for reflexologists. We work on the hands and the feet, the two body structures that make the most contact with the environment and therefore pick up the most germs.
There is an easy and very effective way to reduce your environmental footprint when using paper towels though. Use only one square. Don’t believe it’s possible to fully dry your hands with just one? Try this little experiment:
After washing, hold your hands over the sink, and vigorously shake them 12 times. Then take your square, fold it in half, and using one hand dry the other with one side of the towel. Transfer towel to the hand just dried and dry the other had with the other side of the towel. Et voilà! Dry hands. It’s called the Shake and Fold method. It works. I’ve been practicing this for quite some time now. Watch why and how here.