Putting Paper in the Past

Imagine it like a prize fight: paper towels vs. hand dryers for the high-speed, energy-efficient, cost-effective, hygienic hand-drying champion- ship of the world. The fact is, when it comes to an eventual decision about the way to dry hands after washing, it's not much of a contest. Across the globe, higher education facilities of every size and function are choosing to throw in the towel -so to speak-replacing paper with electric, high-speed, energy-efficient hand dryers.

Then, once they’ve decided to go with this hands free, hands-down, wiser choice, today’s facilities have more options than ever for the most-effective hand-drying solution for their restroom environment.

Hygienic Benefits

Without exception, the best hand dryers must help promote a clean and healthy restroom environment. All dryers in the expanded and enhanced product line do so by their very design, which is a no touch, sensor-activated, hands-under style. This is in stark contrast to trough-style hand dryers, which catch and hold water blown off users’ hands, leaving pools of stagnant water in the collection area where bacteria can grow.

Another standard feature of these three signature dryers is an easily removable, washable metal mesh pre-filter. This important safeguard not only promotes a hygienic environment but helps protect the dryer’s motor, resulting in more reliable performance and a longer life span. For even greater protection, facilities can spec their dryers with a HEPA Filtration System which has been independently tested and proven to remove 99.999 percent of viruses from the airstream.


Most institutions of higher learning today strive to “think green” in their purchase decisions. As installing high-efficiency hand dryers can help facilities qualify for certifications to achieve corporate and government sustainability goals, this is a significant reason many make the switch.

Some people erroneously believe that paper towels, especially if they’re made from recycled fibers and contained in a manual (nonelectric) dispenser, represent the most eco-friendly hand-drying solution available.

They may be surprised to learn that certain high-speed, energy-efficient hand dryers reduce the carbon footprint of hand drying by up to 75 percent, when compared to even 100-percent recycled paper towels, and helps facilities qualify for the most LEEDR v4 credits of any hand dryer in the industry, as confirmed by a peer-reviewed (per ISO 14040 standards) Life Cycle Assessment.

Life Cycle of a Towel

Though a paper towel may seem harmless compared to a powerful dryer, we need to think about the life cycle of that towel: While greener than in decades past, the processes necessary for paper’s initial production (even using recycled materials), transportation and manufacture still expend considerable energy and impact the environment. “Recycled” does not mean “recyclable.”

Once used, even those 100-percent recycled paper towels are headed for the landfill. Further, with the endless need to restock the towels, and in recent times, unavailability of the product, the considerations above need to happen again and again. A single investment in high-efficiency hand dryers puts a stop to this resource-draining loop for good, not the least of which includes maintenance and handling.

Touchless Hand Hygiene

Touchless hand hygiene solutions eliminate the multiple unnecessary touch points that come with using paper towels as a drying method including handling during their manufacture, shipping, storage, restocking and then, once used, the germ-laden waste removal. By reducing touchpoints, the risk of germ transfer is likewise reduced. Also available are anti-microbial Wall Guards, made specifically to fit underneath the dryers, which have a special coating that protects walls from water droplets and inhibits the growth of mold, mildew and microbes.

According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), paper towels are the most common cause for clogged toilets, which can create a lasting source of bacterial exposure if dirty water gets on the floor. Even simpler than these dryers’ defense against microorganisms is their inherent ability to create a visibly cleaner environment. Where there are no paper towels, there is no paper towel waste. Where there is no paper towel waste, there are far fewer messes for custodial staff to have to address. Even if paper towels manage to avoid the toilet, they’re often soaked in sinks and scattered all over the floor.

Hand dryers don’t just reduce the labor, maintenance and waste all this causes. They eliminate it. What’s more, employees and staff won’t be the only ones to appreciate your mess-free restroom. Since the conditions of a facility’s restroom directly reflect the facility’s standards and even its values, your students, visitors or guests will kindly thank you for the (near-effortless) upkeep.

Cost Savings

Imagine a sanitary hand-drying solution that requires no supplies and no extra services. That’s just what you get in a well-made, high-efficiency hand dryer-with a dramatic drop in restroom expenses to show for it.

Institutions–those housing both paper towels and older hand dryers–will enjoy a cost savings in multiple areas with the installation of the right product. In addition to the plummet in expenses associated with labor, maintenance, supplies and waste removal, these facilities may note a welcome decrease on their utility bills: The original high-speed, energy-efficient hand dryer expends 80 percent less energy than conventional hand dryers.

Considering these facts, it stands to reason that this dryer has proven a typical return on investment of less than one year. So, for those who enjoy a good, neck-and-neck sparring match, you won’t find one here; it will always be an easy victory for the high-speed, energy-efficient hand dryer.

This is one sustainable solution that prefers to keep it clean.

About the Author
William Gagnon serves as the vice president of marketing and sales at Excel Dryer, Inc., the manufacturer of the original, patented, high-speed, energy-efficient and EPD certified XLERATORR Hand Dryer.