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Which Is Right for You: Hand Dryers or Paper Towels?

Paper towels used to be found in every commercial restroom near the sinks or by the door, but then they slowly started being replaced by warm air hand dryers. These hand dryers may seem to create less waste, but some wonder if they use too much energy or if they’re really the cleaner option. If you’re operating a restaurant or business that has a public restroom, you may have considered what type of hand-drying system to have. Here are some points to consider in the hand dryer versus paper towel debate.


There is very little to debate here, because warm air hand dryers simply cost much less. Even though they require electricity to operate, the fact that you would spend around ten times as much in paper towels makes it a very simple choice if all you’re doing is looking at your budget. Your biggest expense as far as hand dryers go is the one-time cost to install them, and you may be surprised at just how affordable they are.

Clean Up

Hand dryers win again in this category because they produce no mess. With paper towels, you have to make certain the waste bin is regularly emptied, especially if your restroom sees heavy use. You may also have to deal with plumbing issues if customers flush paper towels. This can clog up your pipes and lead to a backup.


With paper towel dispensers, there are really only two options: manual and automatic. The automatic system activates when the customer waves his or her hand in front of a sensor. While that may be the more sanitary option, both types of machines can jam. On the other hand, there are a wealth of hand dryer options out there that range from the simple to the complex. A basic option may have a push button to activate and work well for low-traffic restrooms, while the higher end models may have motion-activated sensors and may be designed to work for years without any major maintenance.


The Environment

This is another area that is obviously won by the air dryer. You’ll have almost no waste with the air dryer, as opposed to multiple garbage bags filled with paper towels, sometimes in a single day. If your business prides itself on being environmental or is running a marketing campaign pointing out that it’s gone green, be sure you have air dryers in your bathroom.

Do Paper Towels Ever Win?

To many people, it may seem like paper towels are out-dated and need to be completely replaced in commercial restrooms. There are a few reasons why some customers do like having them. They can be used to wipe up a spill or try to get a stain out of a piece of clothing, for example. Other customers dislike touching the door handle of the restroom because of the many germs that may be living on it. A paper towel gives them a barrier between their hand and the knob or handle. Because of this, some restrooms actually offer both paper towels and air dryers as a compromise.

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