Hand dryers or paper towels, which is better for your restroom?

Since the arrival of new more efficient hand dryers, debate ignites and is not always objective depending on where it comes from manufacturers on one side or the other.

The main arguments in comparison put forward the following criteria:

- hygiene, maintenance, costs and environment


Maintenance costs

There, no discussion, there is no doubt that a hand dryer is cheaper to operate than paper towels. Apart from the initial investment, a hand dryer costs between € 0.0002 and 0.002 per dry in electricity, which is much lower than a paper towel, which costs 0.01 €. And you have to consider that several towels are often used by dry (average 2.5).

Depending on the model, manufacturers of electric hand dryers claim a saving of up to 97% compared to paper towels.

Furthermore operating and maintenance costs come in addition to paper towels, you have to change the towels, then replenish them and throw them away... Not often counts the extra workload created by cleaning towels thrown on the ground or in the toilet.

An electrical hand dryer is a one-time purchase: once installed, it requires considerably less attention than paper towel dispensers, even if it requires maintenance from time to time.

It must be stressed that this cost factor will be more prominent for a high frequency of use. If the toilets are rarely used, the cost difference becomes less.

You can simulate a cost analysis with the cost calculator proposed by Excel Dryer Xlerator (in £).

The best solution for the environment

Again, no doubt, it is clear that hand dryers are a better choice for the environment in several ways:

- For one dry, it takes more energy to manufacture towels is much bigger than the energy used by the dryer.

- The use of towels involves production of paper and the corresponding destruction of trees, so a high environmental impact and a significant carbon footprint.

The best hand dryer manufacturers are meanwhile constantly improving the energy efficiency of their equipment and continue to grow in this area.

Thus, the latest models of hand dryer Xlerator and Dyson with a power of 1600W typically consume much less than traditional models.

The last born from Excel Dryer, the Xlerator ECO with 500W is the champion of low consumption.

The british Airdri puts the energy efficiency at the heart of its priorities and offers a range of hand dryers which starts at 1000 W with the Quazar.

The Exp'Air and Stell'Air hand dryers from JVD with 1200 W also reflect the progress made in sustainability.

On this point, see the comparative analysis Dyson Airblade hand dryer or paper towels with a detailed costs calculation or the comparison of Xlerator.


This is where the debate gets played. Advocates of paper towel (which are often the manufacturers but we must recognize that some voices of the medical profession are also heard on the issue) emphasize that its use is more hygienic (with a single use of course).

And this mainly because a hand dryer can pick up bacteria present in the room or left by a previous user and pass to the next user.

To answer this several weightings and constant efforts of manufacturers to improve hygiene conditions:

- If the air is stale in the restrooms and contains bacteria, it means that there is already an hygienic problem there that the hand dryer will not increase much.

- Hand dryers are now equipped with filters and antimicrobial systems, which leads to cleaner air exiting the dryer than entered it.

- A pile of paper towels overflowing from a garbage can and hanging over the sink or on the floor, creates a much larger presence of bacteria and a negative image for your restrooms.

- The type of hand dryer must also be taken into account. An automatic hand dryer will be much more hygienic than a push button model touched by each user. Hand dryers should be dusted once a year, in this regard the high speed models are more hygienic because the force of the air keeps them naturally clean.


Finally, an excellent comparison of ASAP science highlights the importance of the speed of drying hands in eliminating bacteria.

Based on this observation, we can conclude that a fast hand dryer that takes the same time to completely dry hands than paper towels will be in terms of hygiene as efficient and will win in terms of energy and environment.


In conclusion: If your budget allows you a high velocity and energy efficient hand dryer, this choice seems today to have advantages over a paper towel.

However, everyone must consider their needs and the important criteria for its location. Other factors may also come into play as the noise, that we talk about in our page about hand dryer's noise, the budget and also convenience, image, and style returned by one or the other choice.