Why You Should be Using Cotton Towels

May 31, 2015

Why do we wash our hands? Well, other than “because my mom told me so” we wash our hands in order to remove bacteria and grime from our palms and fingers.

We feel (and look) cleaner as well as help stop the spread of bacteria and viruses that could make us sick. In fact, hand hygiene is the single most important measure to reduce the burden of healthcare-associated infections. The debate on whether paper towels or air dryers are the most effective way to dry our hands after lathering and rinsing has long raged.

Luckily for us, the Hjelt Institute of Hygiene and Microbiology at the University of Helsinki studied the effectiveness of four common hand-drying systems to give us an answer once and for all, and it’s not what you think!

Cotton Towels Reduce Bacteria

Cotton towels were proven to be more effective in reducing bacteria through the drying process than the jet or warm air dryers included in the study. Cotton and paper towels eliminate the highest number of bacteria from wet hands.

Additionally, the simple action of rubbing one’s hands with cotton or paper contributes to the effective removal of bacteria.

Finally, the study showed that good hand hygiene involves both washing and drying hands so don’t skip any steps!

Avoid Illness with Cotton Towels

The transmission of bacteria is more likely to occur from wet skin than from dry skin and wet hands will contaminate a clean surface – or be contaminated by a dirty one (think grappling with the paper towel dispenser while dripping water on the floor) – more quickly than properly dried hands. This puts cotton and paper towels far above their air-fueled competition.

What About Public Bathrooms?

But, you may ask, “How can cotton towels be hygienic in public bathrooms?” Well that all comes down to the dispenser design. The surfaces of cotton towel dispensers carry significantly less risk of contamination for wet hands than the surfaces of air dryers and paper dispensers.

In fact, the jet air dryers showed heavy contamination, including E-coli, on all tested surfaces of the dryer. Because of the roll design of the cotton towel dispensers, users don’t have to touch any part of the dispenser with their wet hands, significantly reducing the chances for bacteria transmission.

Air Dryers Are No Match For Cotton Towels

The performance of cotton towels in removing bacteria from hands was over and above the requirement set by the European hand-washing standard (EN 1499), a standard not met by the two types of air dryers. Seriously, cotton “blew” away the competition, don’t you agree? Additionally, after they are properly laundered by a professional textile service (Like us!), cotton towels can be used again and again, making them a much more sustainable option for environmentally conscious businesses. If you are interested in bringing cotton towels to your business, give us a call!