Hand dryer economics


Many is the time I have searched in vain for a simple paper towel only to find hot air.

Long I wondered why so many establishments find it more economical to install hand dryers than dispense paper towels.

After observing handwashing behavior in a number of (men’s) bathrooms, I have a hypothesis:

Hand dryers are more economical because so few people use them.

Has anyone else noticed how many people will eschew drying their hands if presented only a hand dryer?

Has anyone else actually left a bathroom without drying their hands (or, at least, drying them on their clothes), because there were no towels?

Does this apply equally to women’s facilities? :o


I give up. Why don’t you just use the hot air to dry your hands? It works.

Oh. Sorry. :confused:

I thought it would be obvious why one might not want to use the hand dryer:

It takes me about 5 seconds to dry my hands with a paper towel or two.

It takes, what, 30 seconds, a minute (?) to dry my hands with a hand dryer.

And that assumes there isn’t anyone hogging the hand dryer at the instant I want to use it. If there is, add another half minute or more.

(And if you want to wash your face, many hand dryers do not have adjustable air direction, so have fun contorting to get your face under the dryer!)


I do agree with you, vknowles. While there are very efficient hand dryers out there, there are also so many which aren’t (because of lack of maintenance, for example) that it is almost not worth the time - seemingly- to labour and wait under the rushing air.

I’m always glad where there is a paper towel option, and I use them.

There was an article in the paper recently stating that one third of the people never wash their hands at all after using public toilets. In the same article a dermatologist says that paper towels are much more hygenic for two reasons: You get an additional scrape effect and most people don’t bother to wait until their hands are dry when there is only a blow-dryer - and walking away with wet hands is the worst.
Concerning your wish to wash and dry your face, vknowles, i recall a scene in Madonnas ‘desprately seeking Susan’ where she is using a blow-dryer with a twistable nozzle. Very nice…

Is Cecil saying Athlete’s Foot is a bacterial infection??? I understood it to be fungal.


Now these are all bacteria, but athlet’s foot is caused by a fungus.

Depends on how you parse that. If you read it as “You could get a bacterial infection like impetigo, or you could get athlete’s foot”, then it’s correct.

Another economic factor: Even if the energy to run the hot-air dryer costs more than a paper towel, the dryer is automatic, but you have to pay someone to re-fill the towel dispenser every so often and empty the trash.

And I’ve never seen a hand dryer that didn’t have an adjustable nozzle. Where are the ones you’ve been using, vknowles?

Well, I usually don’t try to adjust them, because I usually don’t wash my face… but when I have, I’d say about 1/3 (just a guess) have fixed nozzles.


As for paying someone to refill the towel dispenser, they have to pay someone to clean the place anyway (we hope), and the extra minute to refill the dispenser every once in a while seems a pretty trivial expense.

But based on some of the public restrooms I’ve seen, they aren’t cleaned very often, anyway.

So the economics of ignoring the restroom seems to weigh in on the side of the hand dryer.

(I wonder what can be done about toilet paper?) :wink:


One argument I’ve heard - that automatic hand dryers (where you just have to put your hands underneath for it to turn on) are more sanitary than paper towel dispensers, since you don’t have to touch anything someone else with wet, germified hands has handled.

It makes sense. However, I’ve seen automatic-sensor paper towel dispensers recently as well, so…

Andrew “NO .SIG MAN” “Juan” Perron, either’s good, really.

If you really don’t want to touch anything that someone else has touched, you still have a dilemma.

True, you can shoulder the button on a regular hand dryer, and an automatic one solves that problem.

Except for the door. Most restroom doors (those that have doors at all) seem to open to the inside, so you have to handle the handle that at least 30% of the clientele have handled with totally unwashed hands.

And have you ever seen those infection control training videos? They show someone using the paper towel to turn off the faucet, too, at least the old-fashioned non-automatic faucets. The other 70% have handled those!

(We’re talking men’s room stats here…)

It takes a paper towel to insulate your hands from those handles.

Can’t use a hand dryer for that sort of thing.

But I wonder what else you could use one for… :wink:


I don’t care what anyone says - I refuse to use a hand dryer.

When you enter a public restroom the smell often knocks you out. Why? Because urine and waste are atomized in the air. Why then would I want to place my CLEAN hands under a dryer that has heated the aforementioned fetid air, and proceed to blow it under pressure onto my damp hands where it is sure to stick?

Also, those dryers are rarely if ever serviced. I have seen mold and goo an inch thick blocking the intake screens on those things. Thanks, but no thanks for me - my pants will do fine for drying.

The driers that detect your hand nearby and automatically start usually are not adjustable (and are also usually pitifully low-power). I’ve also seen some where the adjustable nozzle is missing.

For that matter, there are also perfectly simple paper towel dispensors where you just pull out one towel and the end of the next one pulls out. You still don’t have to touch anything other than the personal towel you use, and there’s nothing to break down.