We’ve been taught hand hygiene from our very early years, but how much thought do we give to the humble hand dryer on a daily basis? The truth is that many of us don’t take the time to wash and dry our hands in the most hygienic way. So here it is – a crash course for drying hands effectively.
Step 1: Wash your hands thoroughly
Properly drying your hands while they’re still unhygienic is essentially like closing the gate after the horse has bolted. Begin your hand hygiene routine by taking the time to wash your hands properly. Wet your hands with running water, apply soap and lather for at least 20 seconds: paying attention to the fingernails, between fingers and the back of hands. Then rinse your hands thoroughly, turning off taps with your elbow if possible to avoid picking up bacteria.
Step 2: Shake your hands gently while they’re in the sink
The less water on your hands, the less time they’ll take to completely dry. Gently shake your hands while they’re still over the sink to dispel as much water as possible – without splashing it elsewhere in the bathroom, of course.
Step 3: Hold your hands still under the hand dryer (and have patience!)
The last step is to hold your hands underneath the hand dryer’s air flow for as long as it takes for your hands to dry. Patience pays off because the drier hands are, the less likely they are to transmit bacteria. Drying time will depend on the hand dryer’s model and speed, so pay attention to any instructions displayed on the machine. For high speed hand dryers this may be as little as 8 to 15 seconds, while conventional hand dryers may require 20 to 30 seconds.
Note: There’s no need to rub your hands for a thorough dry
While it might seem a good idea to rub your hands under the air flow (as you would with hand sanitiser), a Japanese study has actually shown that this can hinder the benefits of a hand dryer. Holding hands stationary under the hand dryer resulted in significantly less colony-forming bacteria left on palms and fingers, compared to when hands were rubbed for the same amount of time. The lesson: keep your hands still, and relax!
So there you have it. Drying your hands may be a simple process, but next time you’re in the washroom it’s worth giving some thought to whether you’re giving your hands the chance to dry properly.
If you’re a facilities manager, then it’s also worth considering which hand dryer to install that will dry hands quickly and effectively. One study has shown that men spend an average of 17 seconds using hot air hand dryers, while women spend the even shorter time of 13.3 seconds. The good news is that some of our Mediclinics hand dryers can dry hands in as little as 8 to 10 seconds. Unsure of what to choose? The Davidson Washroom team is here to help.