Why Drying Your Hands Is as Important as Washing Them

By now, everyone knows the importance of washing their hands properly and regularly, especially when they're trying to prevent the transmission and contraction of viruses. But that's just half of the message. Drying your hands — the other half of this crucial public health message — is just as important.

Do Wet Hands Spread More Germs?

Research indicates that moist hands can spread up to 1 000 times more germs than dry ones. This is what makes hand drying especially more important when you share a bathroom with other people. When you touch a high touch surface such as a door handle with wet hands, you've created the perfect conditions for recontamination.

How You Dry Matters

Most people mistakenly believe hot air drying is the most hygienic way to dry their hands. A 2008 study by the University of Westminster found that the use of paper towels reduces the number of germs on your hands by up to 77%. Warm air dryers, on the other hand, can actually increase the germs on your hands.

When drying your hands, a single-use paper towel is your best bet. Paper towels only take a few seconds to dry your hands completely and remove nearly 100% of germs. This is in stark contrast to a warm air dryer, which takes an average of 43 seconds to get your hands only 95% dry. Additionally, rubbing your hands with a paper towel creates friction that further reduces the number of germs on your hands.

What About Hand and Bath Towels?

When they're not washed regularly, towels become the perfect breeding ground for germs. Ideally, you should be washing your hand and bath towels after each use and wringing it dry to prevent it from remaining damp for too long.

We touch a number of surfaces throughout the day, and these surfaces have different potential to harbour germs. It goes without saying that hand hygiene is an essential part of preventing the spread of viruses. But as you can see, hand drying is equally as important.

Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser, and thoroughly dry your hands to give yourself the best protection against germs.