Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Hand drying reduces spread of germs

How important is it to dry my hands after I wash them?

Updated: 02-08-2019

Answer

Answer Section

Wet hands spread germs more easily than dry hands do. So it's important to thoroughly dry your hands after washing.

Some people prefer paper towels, others prefer hand dryers. Two types of hand dryers are commonly found in public restrooms: jet air dryers that blow air forcefully and warm air dryers that blow air more slowly.

Both types work by pulling in room air and concentrating its flow. Jet air dryers use room temperature air; warm air dryers heat the air before blowing it. These dryers can be effective in drying hands, and they likely use fewer natural resources than paper towels.

Whether you use paper towels or a hand dryer, be sure to make sure your hands are completely dry. Then use a paper towel, your forearm, elbow or shoulder to open the door so you don't re-contaminate your hands.