The key to hygienic hand washing is not just the use of soap and water but more importantly effective hand drying.
There are generally three methods of hand drying, they include are hot air blowers, cloth cabinet roll towels and single sheet disposable paper towels.
Surprisingly, hot air blowers actually increase bacteria levels by up to 500%. It is the least effective hand drying solution. It’s unhygienic and unproductive to use a hot air blower in a food preparation environment.2
Most people do not dry their hands for long enough under a hot air blower. Damp, warm hands provide the perfect environment for bacteria to multiply. What’s more, bacteria can be found in and around the inlet and outlet nozzle, turning the blower into a “germ incubator”.1, 2
A fresh cabinet towel however, does reduce the level of bacteria from hands. But, once the towel is in use, bacteria is accumulated from other users. Cabinet towels can become ‘community towels’. Cross infection may occur when a portion of the towel is reused thus spreading bacteria to the hands and face. Cabinet towels operate on a ‘shared stock system’ therefore towel customers will be unaware as to who or what industry previously used the towel they currently have.1
Quite simply, the most effective hand drying method is the use of a single sheet disposable paper towel.
The rubbing or abrasive action of a paper towel actually removes high concentrations of bacteria from hands after washing. A paper towel is disposable and never shared. It allows you to dry the tips of your fingers, the web, palm and back of your hand with ease. Paper towels are easy to store and easily maintained. They remain the preferred method of effective hand drying in the food business.
- “Hand Drying Hygiene Facts” – University of Westminster.
- “Evaluation of Risks Related to Microbiological Contamination of Ready-to-eat Food by Food Preparation Workers and the Effectiveness of Interventions to Minimise Those Risks” – Jack Guzewich, RS, MPH. Marianne P. Ross, DVM, MPH. (1-29).