Paper Towels vs Hand Dryers

Hand Dryer vs Paper Towels

When it comes to cleaning our hands, we obviously want to ensure they are as clean as possible but we should also be doing our best to help the environment in the process. However, after many years of deliberation, one big question still stands – should we be using paper towels or hand dryers?

Paper Towels

Paper towels have been around for a long time, and have been used to dry our hands in public bathrooms, hotels and even aeroplanes. In some cases, paper towels seem to be the only option as the cost of electricity in particular areas is high. However, paper has its own issues: for example, public bathrooms may have a large amount of waste as some members of the public may deliberately use more than what is needed, and others might waste them without realising. Not only does this have negative effects on the environment, if not recycled, but it may also cost more than electricity in the long run.

Hand Dryers

Hand dryers are believed to be the most effective at drying compared to disposable paper towels as they do the job a lot quicker, and some modern models aren’t too harsh on our environment when it comes to power consumption. However, the environmental impacts start with how they are produced, the materials used and the entire manufacturing process. Although this process may not be the most efficient in some cases, we are more likely going to use hand dryers many more times than paper towels before a replacement is needed; therefore, it is more withstanding.

Effects on the Environment

As previously mentioned, the production of hand dryers can cause environmental impacts, but there are also a range of impacts during the manufacturing process of paper towels. During this process, trees are destroyed and wood has to be transported to factories where it will then be transformed into paper towels. This, therefore, causes a wide range of deforestation impacts and the transformation process requires a variety of fossil fuels to be burnt.

As well as production impacts, paper towels and hand dryers have other effects on the environment such as:

  • Paper towels are made from organic matter that releases harmful greenhouse gases such as methane when sent to landfill sites.
  • Hand dryers use a large amount of electricity which can be both expensive and damaging to the environment to be produced.
  • Both release CO2 emissions during the transportation process but hand dryers are not as damaging on the environment once installed as they do not need stocking up, so no frequent trips are needed.


Studies have found[1] that using hand dryers to clean your hands can in fact increase the number of germs and bacteria on your skin. However, in comparison to this, paper towels are neutral, and do not affect the level of bacteria after use.

It goes without saying that both paper towels and hand dryers have different effects on the environment, but the choice as to which you use within your business or when visiting a public bathroom is completely up to you.

Source: [1]

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