Have you ever noticed someone exiting a restroom while shaking their wet hands? Is drying your hands important after you wash your hands? Maybe you’ve done it, too– you’ve taken the time to properly wash, but you’re in a hurry, and don’t want to take the extra time to get paper towels or stand near an air dryer.
Hand drying is an important part of hand hygiene, and shouldn’t be skipped. The reason is simple: germs can be transferred more easily to and from wet hands than dry hands.
Which method, then, should you choose? Should you dry your hands with towels (paper or otherwise), or use an air dryer? There isn’t conclusive research on this topic, as most studies compare residual microbes (not just germs) remaining on hands following different drying methods. Microbes are tiny living organisms which may or may not cause disease, and it has not been proven that removing microbes from hands is linked to better health.
What is clear, however, is the point that using a clean towel or air drying hands is the proper final step in effective hand-washing. So the next time you’re tempted to shake your hands dry or rub your hands on your clothes, pause and take the 60 seconds or so needed to face the world with clean, dry hands.