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Coronavirus: Why drying your hands is just as important as washing them

Coronavirus: Why drying your hands is just as important as washing them















  • According to research drying hands properly - on disposable paper towels rather than hot air dryers - is crucial to avoid transmission of COVID-19.
  • The transmission of microbes is more likely to take place through wet skin.


Since the number of people infected with coronavirus increases around the world day by day, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised everyone to carefully and as often as possible wash their hands. This can be either with an alcohol-based hand rub or with soap and water. The hope is that the proper hand hygiene will limit the spread of the virus.

To wash your hands effectively, you need to use clean water and soap. Hands should be rubbed together for at least 20 seconds, followed by rinsing. The use of soap is particularly important for handwashing to be effective as studies have shown that washing with soap significantly reduces the presence of viruses and bacteria on hands. However, drying hands is equally important for the proper level of hand hygiene.

Hand drying removes moisture from the hands, while it also involves friction, which further reduces the risk of microbial contamination. It is more likely for microbes to be transmitted from wet skin, rather than dry.

The following review studied the effect of hand drying on bacteria, not viruses.The results are very important especially regarding transmission and spread of the coronavirus in hospitals and surgeries.

Disposable paper towels are the most hygienic form of hand drying. Warm air and jet air dryers are not recommended for use in hospitals for hygiene reasons. These types of hand dryers can increase the spreading of particles and microorganisms into the air, therefore leading to contamination of the environment.

Cloth roller towels are also not recommended because as soon as the roll finishes they become a general use towel that can be a source for pathogens.

Importance of hand drying

The same review has also concluded that the most proper methods for hand drying inside a clinical environment differed to that recommended for public washrooms. This is because there is a much higher risk of contamination and cross-infection in hospitals. So, drying your hands using a paper towel is the preferred option if you are in hospital, whether you are a patient, a visitor or work there.

One part of the review included government policy on hand drying and found that disposable paper towels are the fastes and most effective way in getting rid of moisture that can subsequently lead to transmission of pathogenes. 

The overall conclusion is that the effective and proper hand drying is highly related to hand hygiene, regardless of the environment where a person can work.