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Electric Hand Dryers vs Paper Towel Dispensers – a No-Nonsense Guide for Business Owners

April 11, 2018 by Chris Chapman

As a business owner or site manager, ensuring the hygiene of your workplace has to be one of your highest priorities. Your staff want to work in a safe, clean environment, and if you’re a customer-facing business, you want every detail to show you in the best possible light. Getting a nice washroom for your business is a huge part of this process! With that in mind, the debate over electric hand dryers vs paper towel dispensers is actually a hugely important one.

Dirty Tactics

Stressed about which choice is right for you? Read our guide to help you decide!

It’s an important debate, but it’s also a very complicated one. See, the paper towel industry and electric hand dryer industries are in direct competition with one another, and for two industries focused on hygiene there are a lot of dirty tactics involved! This means there’s a lot of mud slinging going on between the two sides, which sometimes even goes as far as public slanging matches between companies. More commonly however, this shade takes the form of studies, commissioned by paper towel companies or hand dryer companies, that say one side is great and the other is dirty and terrible. Usually these studies are flawed and only present one side of the story, and as always with these things, the full truth lies somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, these studies tend to produce quite dramatic headlines (that’s the whole point) that get spread around the internet and can even be picked up by normally reputable sources.

As a business owner it’s important for you to cut through the drama and the politics and just make the right choice for your business, because the truth is both hand dryers and paper towel dispensers are good for different things. That’s where we come in! Just read our guide below on which choice is the right one for you, and once you’ve made your choice have a look at our buyers’ guides for paper towel dispensers HERE and electric hand dryers HERE. If you have any more questions you can always pick up the phone on 0800 091 3171 or use the live chat function on HSDonline.co.uk to speak to our experts for personal advice!

Things to Think About

Installation Time and Cost

Both are fairly even in this regard, and you’ll need someone with professional skills to wall-mount them both. However, electric hand dryers will need a power source which adds an extra layer of complication, especially if you need to hard wire them in, and they will need PAT-testing before you can install them. This means you’ll probably need someone with electrical expertise, which not every company has on staff. If getting it set up as quickly as possible is important, look at a paper towel dispenser.

Winner: Paper Towel Dispensers

Drying Time

The Jet Blade Hands in Hand Dryer will dry your hands in 10 seconds flat

This is a complex one to figure out, so please bear with us. Generally, at lower price points, you’ll find paper towels are a little bit faster than standard automatic or manual electric hand dryers – although this does depend on the quality of paper towel you actually use. Quality 2-ply towels like THESE will usually give you quick and absorbent results. However, if you truly want the quickest hand drying solution, an energy-efficient blade dryer is the way to go. Blade dryers dry both sides of your hands at once and allow users to spread their fingers out while drying, ensuring every wrinkle of your skin is dried out. Overall then, the electric hand dryer nicks it!

Winner: Electric Hand Dryers

Constant Use

Do your colleagues need to constantly clean their hands? A towel dispenser is the one for you

If you work in a busy industrial environment where everyone needs to be constantly washing their hands, like a chemical lab or a specialised assembly line, you want a hand drying solution that can serve a lot of people as quickly as possible. Electric hand dryers may be quicker to dry one pair of hands, but they can only handle one person at a time. Unless you want to invest in several hand dryers to cut down on queues, a paper towel dispenser offers you a little more flexibility in that users can take as many towels as they need and won’t need to crowd round one spot to dry off. If you need a lot of people to dry their hands quickly and often, a paper towel dispenser may be better for you.

Winner: Paper Towel Dispensers

Size and Storage

If you have a small premises this is important, and again the units themselves are generally just about even. Of course, electric hand dryers need to be placed near a power source which does limit where you’re able to place them. This could come into play if your washroom is really small. However, the deciding factor is paper towel dispensers’ need to have a constant supply of paper towels which also need to be stored somewhere. They can take up a surprising amount of space, so if space is at a premium in your workplace an electric hand dryer just edges it.

Winner: Electric Hand Dryers

Noise

If you work in an environment where low noise is important, such as in a cinema or exhibition centre, you need something that doesn’t disturb your visitors. You can look into low noise electric hand dryers but do be aware these tend to hover around the 70 decibels (dB) mark. For comparison, 70 dB is roughly the volume at which the average person watches TV. It’s not loud, but it’s certainly not silent, which can be crucial if your work involves vulnerable people who are sensitive to noise. If noise is important to your business, paper towels win.

Winner: Paper Towel Dispensers

Eco-Friendliness and Running Costs

An eco-friendly electric hand dryer will save your business money in the long run

A hugely important factor in today’s world is eco-friendliness. Even if you’re not environmentally minded, getting an eco-friendly solution for your business is a no-brainer as it’ll keep your costs down! A decade ago paper towels would have won this round in a landslide, however electric hand dryers have come a long way in recent years and some models can offer you stunning efficiency and no waste. The Jet Blade, as an example, will only cost you between £4 and £10 for a whole year of use! It depends on the model, of course, but if you pick the right model, the choice between an energy efficient hand dryer and a years’ supply of paper towels is clear.

Winner: Electric Hand Dryers (as long as it’s a quality modern one!)

Hygiene

This is the really controversial one, so get ready for some drama! A study, funded by the European Tissue Symposium (yes, that is a thing), found that electric hand dryers don’t get rid of bacteria from your hands as well as paper towels. This led to alarming headlines such as “Dyson Airblades ‘spread germs 1,300 times more than paper towels’,” (which Dyson responded to with their own study, snappily titled Paper’s Dirty Little Secret, that said the opposite). The truth is somewhere in between, because really hand dryers and paper towels aren’t designed to be hygienic – that’s what washing your hands is for! As long as you’re comparing like for like – automatic hand dryers with automatic paper towel dispensers, for example – it’s pretty much a dead heat. Just focus on getting a quality soap dispenser and get a hand drying solution that’s good at drying hands!

Winner: It’s a draw!

The Verdict:

It really depends on you and what you want for your business. Paper towel dispensers are simpler and cheaper to buy and install initially, however the long-term running costs of electric hand dryers will net you savings over time. Really, the key thing that affects all the factors involved when looking for a hand drying solution is the quality of the product. An inefficient hand dryer, cheaply-made paper towel dispenser or poor-quality paper towel will cost you in the long run, so make sure you read our buyers’ guides on paper towel dispensers and electric hand dryers for more detailed information on what to look for!

 

 

Business Facilities, Hand Dryers, Washroom

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