When it comes to portable sanitation, toilets, sinks, and soap are the items that get most of the attention. Hand drying is generally more of an afterthought — something that many people don’t realize is just as important in maintaining good hygiene. The method used to dry hands really does matter in the fight to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks. For this reason, part of the GAP audit process includes verification that quality hand-drying supplies are present in addition to soap and water.
In a five-article series by CleanLink written in 2013, Stephanie S. Beecher wrote that the CDC reported the transmission of bacteria is more likely to occur from wet hands than from dry hands. Hand drying doesn’t just remove water; it also removes bacteria. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic said the importance of hand drying has not been promoted as widely as it should, and it’s often overlooked in the disease prevention discussion. In order to bring attention to the issue, they reviewed 40 years’ worth of studies to determine the best method of hand drying. They examined drying efficiency, the effective removal of bacteria, and the prevention of cross-contamination and found that single-use paper towels offer the most benefits.
Why Paper Towels Work Best for Hand Drying
The Mayo Clinic study examined paper towels, cloth towels, hot air dryers, and evaporation. Paper towels outperformed the rest due to friction involved during the drying process.
“The biggest thing is when you are drying your hands with paper towels, you have a physical action,” the study said. “You are going to have the removal of soil, oils, and there is still abrasion to the surface to remove anything that may be residing on the skin. More importantly, you remove the water that spreads germs.”
There isn’t any friction with evaporation and a minimal amount with air dryers. In addition, many people don’t use the air dryer for a long enough time to completely dry their hands. Paper towels are superior to cloth towels because they are single use. Recontamination can occur when germs collect on cloth towels that are used multiple times.
Types of Paper Towels
Because there are so many different options when it comes to paper towels, you may be wondering what is the best option for your farm. There are white (bleached) and brown (unbleached/kraft) paper towels that come in folded sheets or rolls. There isn’t a big difference; all options are effective at drying hands.
White paper towels and folded sheets are slightly more expensive due to manufacturing costs, and white paper towels are less environmentally friendly, according to Bright Hub. This is because chlorine is used to make the paper white, and the process produces hazardous chemical compounds called dioxins that can be harmful to people.
Considerations for Paper Towel Dispensers
Paper towel dispensers provide workers with easy access to clean paper towels to dry their hands. By utilizing the paper towels and dispenser, workers will be able to effectively remove germs from their hands and avoid recontamination.
Paper towel dispensers for the farm should be durable. They’ll be moved from location to location along with other portable sanitation equipment, and they need to stand up to the shaking/bouncing of transportation, as well as repeated use. The dispensers should also be able to stand up to the weather, which could range from hot and sunny to rainy. A feature to look for is single-piece construction, which provides a water-tight seal and maximum strength.
It's also a good idea to consider dispensers that are versatile and offer a variety of features. Some can be mounted anywhere, on walls or posts both inside or outside of toilet units or on portable sinks. There are even dispensers that have a removable spindle so that they can dispense either rolls or folded towels.
GAP inspections are made easier if you utilize keyless, see-through paper towel dispensers. Keyless dispensers allow anyone to restock paper towels as needed, so workers will never be without them. See-through dispensers make it easy to monitor how many paper towels are left, which makes it easier to plan for restocking or reordering.
Expand your knowledge of GAP requirements, and take steps toward becoming fully compliant. Learn about the many GAP requirements by downloading a FREE copy of GAP Compliance Made Easy or request FREE Toilet & Handwashing Compliance Signs at AgSinksTB.com.
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