Bathroom Etiquette: Are Paper Towels Hygienic?


The coronavirus pandemic has even showered more light on personal hygiene, particularly the washing of hands. By washing your hands adequately, you can reduce the spread of germs, bacteria, and viruses. This is why washing hands is being encouraged and preached over and over again. 

It’s not enough to wash one’s hands, but drying the hands properly is also highly important. This is because wet hands spread microbes faster. Due to this, paper towels and other hand drying methods are of great importance during this coronavirus pandemic and even after things get back to normal. 

This article summarizes four reasons why paper towels are considered more hygienic than other methods. 

1. Cleanliness

 It’s essential to ensure absolute cleanliness at all times. We do everything in our capacity to maintain cleanliness at our homes, especially bathrooms and this includes hiring professionals like phs group. The use of toilet paper is one way of doing that. 

Paper towels are used just once and then disposed of. Some might see this as ecologically unfriendly, but paper towels started saving lives right from the day it came into existence. 

Not only are paper towels soft and comfy to the touch, but most of them contain anti-microbial substances that help kill germs, bacterial, and viruses. Its one-time use makes it one of the most hygienic hand cleaning and hand drying ways that people can think of.

One of the major cholera outbreaks in Chile was traced back to the use of dirty kitchen rags; paper towels would’ve been more efficient for avoiding avoid the epidemic. This puts paper towels in an advantageous position over cloth towels. 

In the bathroom, a cloth towel could be a susceptible host for bacterial, germs, and viruses, especially if it’s shared by two or more persons. This means that an infection could spread faster via this route, which can simply be avoided with the use of a paper towel.

Asides that, a cloth towel could harbor germs if used for long and kept in the bathroom without washing. Paper towels not-more-than-once use makes it more hygienic over reusable cloth towels.  

In public washrooms, restrooms, and toilets, most people use paper towels to open and close doors. This is very hygienic because lots of door handles harbor lots of microbial substances because they’re touched by lots of hands. 

2. Paper Towels vs Hand Dryers

Paper Towels Hygienic

 In places where hygiene is paramount for life protection, such as hospitals and homes for the elderly, paper towel is favored over hand dryer. Studies have shown that the manual friction that comes into play when you rub paper towels against your hands in a scrubbing motion transfers the microbes from your hands to the paper towel. 

According to the same researchers, paper towels dry damp or wet hands faster than the likes of the hot dryer and air dryer. The only dryer that could compete with a paper towel when it comes to quickly drying the hand is the jet dryer. This boosts hygiene because you don’t have to continue dabbing the paper towels on your hand before completely drying one’s hands.

Another score for the paper towel is that it doesn’t emit noise when being used, unlike the hand dryers. A strike against the air dryer is that it sucks in the air that’s most likely already contaminated and emits it as hand drying air. This means that while drying the hands, the air dryer blows microbes onto the hands and even into the washroom.

The researchers also found out that frequent use of air dryers could irritate the hands, particularly people with sensitive hands. This means that frequent or excessive use of air/hot/jet dryers causes dryness, roughness, and redness of hands, which is rarely the case with paper towels. 

3. User Preference

 Most people of the older generation prefer the paper towel and would go for it instead of technological devices, such as the dryers. Even among the youths, the paper towel is most preferred.

Even in companies where hand dryers are being produced, it was discovered that paper towels were still placed in their washrooms. This means that hand drying hygiene would reduce if paper towels are not placed in public and private areas.  

4. Accessibility and Convenience

In areas such as the countryside and even in developing countries, paper towels are more readily available than hand dryers. This is even more essential during this coronavirus pandemic.

The use of cloth towels, handkerchiefs are quite favored in developing countries and countries with low economic outputs. The reason is that people in those areas prefer something reusable. This is not in their best interest because most don’t handle the fabrics well and so the fabrics end up being microbes’ carriers. 

Without care for anything, these materials would still be used to clean the nose, wipe the face, clean the hands, and more. Because they’re only used once, paper towels effectively reduce this. Also, paper towels are inexpensive to purchase (even in large quantities).

Strikes Against Paper Towels

  • Dryers might be quite costly to purchase and a bit expensive to install, but in the long run, they’re cost-effective than paper towels. This is because paper towels are used up fast and need to be bought over and over again.
  • Paper towels could also harbor microbes if they aren’t placed in clean environments. Due to this, restrooms, where paper towels are placed, need to be kept clean at every point in time.
  • Have you noticed that there’s always never enough paper towels when using automatic paper towel dispensers, especially in a public bathroom? The reason for this is that the manufacturers of automatic paper towel dispensers built the motor engine to only dispense a little per time.

This brings to fore the ecological impact of paper towels. Paper towels are not reusable, so they turn to waste after one-time use. Also, some companies make use of trees to make their paper towel. 

Not all companies, though, since some recycle old papers and make them into paper towels, making it environmental-friendly. Also, the companies that use trees for their production always plant new ones in replacement of the old trees cut down.

  • Another strike against the paper towels is that some people don’t handle it well. Paper towels being thrown in trash cans need to be thrown in properly because if they lie about indecently, they could get soggy, causing the replication of microbes. Besides, the filled trash cans need to be disposed of as soon as possible to avoid contamination of the environment. Again, some individuals throw the paper towels in the toilet, causing them to clog the toilets. This is an advantage of dryers over paper towels.


Generally, paper toilets are very hygienic when compared with other hand drying methods. They are effective in drying washed hands, wiping surfaces, and preventing the spread of germs. 

Washrooms, bathrooms, and toilets are areas with the highest risk of microbes’ contamination, and transmission and paper towels seem to be the best to use in those areas.

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