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The gloves must come off

The paper towel industry, has consistently failed to invent new technology or respond to environmental concerns. Paper towels are costly to buy and replace, and are rarely recycled, meaning they are sent to landfill or incinerated.

To argue their case, the paper towel industry is continuing to commission research with flawed methodology.  On 18th November, the European Tissue Symposium will present misleading research which suggests paper towels are more hygienic than other hand-drying methods, including the Dyson Airblade hand dryer.


Dyson Airblade hand dryers are the fastest, most hygienic way to dry hands.  By investing in new technology and striving to do more with less, Dyson engineers have developed a machine which not only works effectively and hygienically but also has a low impact on the environment. They produce up to 71% less CO2 than paper towels and are able to dry 18 pairs of hands for the price of a single paper towel[1].


Research commissioned by the paper towel industry, and published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, was conducted under artificial conditions and does not reflect real life.  As the report itself states ‘There are some weaknesses and limitations to the present study’ – yet the industry is presenting it as fact.

The research is flawed for the following reasons:

  1. Gloved hands were contaminated with unrealistically high levels of bacteria – 10 million bacteria counts per ml were recorded on the gloves.
  2. The highly contaminated hands were then dried – without washing.
  3. The amounts of bacteria retrieved from the air are insignificant and presented without any real life context: more bacteria are released into the air by removing one’s jacket or changing one’s shoes than found in this study.

croseThe results in a real washroom look different. People wash their hands to remove bacteria before drying them – and they don’t wear gloves. When hands are dried properly, it reduces the spread of bacteria up to 1000 times.

The Dyson Airblade hand dryer has been proven to be as hygienic as paper towels, through research commissioned by Dyson and conducted by the University of Bradford (published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology), Institut de Recherche Microbiologique, the College of Medicine (University of Florida), and Campden BRI.

The paper towel industry’s own research also shows the Dyson Airblade™ hand dryer to be as hygienic as paper towels – but you won’t hear them talking about it. In 2013 the second largest paper towel company, SCA, commissioned a study with Campden BRI – it measured the same factors under more representative conditions. When the research involved a hand washing stage, it concluded that there was: ‘no significant evidence of any difference between the methods of hand drying with respect to airborne microbial counts’.



About Charlie Kortens

Charlie Kortens

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