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Blowing away the myths around washroom hygiene

30 October 2020

HYGIENE HAS remained top of the agenda throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and when it comes to washrooms, there has been much debate around infection control. Airdri’s commercial manager, Mike Smith has debunked some of these myths and shares his top products for a COVID-secure washroom.

Ever since coronavirus hit our shores at the start of the year, we have all been encouraged to adhere to strict hygiene measures to reduce the spread of the pandemic. And with no vaccine in sight, it seems these practices will continue to be commonplace for some time.  

Debunking the myths
In the current climate, it has never been more important to ensure hands are dried effectively, to remove any traces of the virus remaining on washed hands, and reduce the risk of transmission. After all, damp hands are 1,000 times more likely to spread germs. 

However, in recent months, this fact has reignited the debate around paper vs power. Should washroom users reach for paper towels to dry their hands, or do electric hand dryers blow away their single-use rivals? We have seen many articles coming from the paper towel sector, trying to discredit the safety of hand dryers. With no evidence to back up these claims, sadly, all they have done is cause more concern at an already worrying time. 

In the absence of any scientific advice around the most appropriate way to dry hands throughout the pandemic, we decided to commission our own independent research with a leading microbiologist. Dr David L Webber’s report* found that, despite claims that hand dryers contribute to the spread of viruses in the washroom, both paper towels and warm air hand dryers offer a hygienic way to dry hands. This guidance has also been supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and British Government**. 

In our opinion, what all of these articles have failed to mention are the risks that come with using paper towels, and the knock on effect that they have on the environment.

Paper towel risks

In theory, a single-use product that is disposed of after use sounds pretty safe, but it isn’t that simple. More often than not, these used towels are thrown into an open waste bin, left exposed. Sometimes, paper towels are dropped, littering the floor and require picking up. Given that coronavirus can survive on such surfaces for hours, perhaps even days, they bring a further transmission risk that electric hand dryers avoid by their touch free operation. 

In fact, the risk of handling such waste is so significant, that government guidelines suggest that used paper towels should be placed in two Hazchem bags and stored on the premises for 48 hours, before being added to general waste. This advice may only to apply to venues that have hosted guests with COVID-19 symptoms, but given that many who contract the virus are asymptomatic, we believe that this should be common practice. 

Compromising sustainability 

The poor sustainability credentials of paper towels also shouldn’t be forgotten - from the natural resources they are made with, to the manufacturing process and inability to be recycled. We believe that a balance can be found between hygiene and sustainability – the two do not have to be mutually exclusive. There are already products on the market that achieve a safe and effective dry, without damaging the environment – despite competitors’ efforts to discredit them in recent months.

For example, both our QuantumTM and QuazarTM hand dryers have achieved the GreenSpec status for using less than 1,000 watts. The QuantumTM emits just 200 watts - the lowest energy consumption unit in the world. 

We have also worked hard to improve the lifespan of our hand dryers, to reduce the number of machines sent to landfill. Using the latest motor technology, our dryers last six times longer than other similar, fast dry models, with a lifespan of around 6,000 hours. 

Beyond the sink

Maintaining a high level of air and surface cleanliness is also vital in removing the opportunity for germs to breed in the washroom. Therefore, alongside a robust and regular cleaning rota, businesses should invest in a solution that automatically kills any surrounding viruses and bacteria. 

We have recently added a range of Air Purifier units to our portfolio, which promise to kill 98.11% of all airborne and surface bacteria and viruses, including those in the coronavirus family. Put simply, an air purifier will eradicate any microbes that are missed during cleaning, and keep the setting safe between cleans too.

The future

As we continue to live alongside COVID-19, it has never been more important to invest in hygiene practices that are proven to remove bacteria and viruses, as well as protect against future infection threats. 

* https://airdri.com/airdri-launches-air-purifier-to-flush-away-washroom-bacteria/ 

** https://www.fmj.co.uk/government-joins-who-and-cdc-in-confirming-safe-use-of-hand-dryers-during-pandemic/