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Wipe your hands on paper towels
December 5, 2012 2:09 PM   Subscribe

An article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings compares twelve different studies to determine which way of drying one's hands is the most sanitary, and concludes that the provision of Paper Towels is more effective than Blow Dryers. (previously: paper towels found to be less environmentally-friendly in paper commissioned by Dyson, inventor of the Airblade)
posted by Greg Nog (74 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 


Not only do towels physically scrub bacteria from the skin, they can also be used to turn off the tap and/or open the door, thereby decreasing the chance of surface-to-skin transmission. Or vice versa.

Paper towels also avoid the "jet engine in the bathroom" problem, which grieves me deeply on a personal level.
posted by lholladay at 2:16 PM on December 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


Howie came to the same conclusion 20 years ago in The Mezzanine.

I love that book and now I love you.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:17 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


From our 'well, duh' dept.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:18 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of these days, one of those blowers it going to give me the bacon that it promised.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:20 PM on December 5, 2012 [24 favorites]


...paper towels found to be less environmentally-friendly in paper commissioned by Dyson

Shouldn't he have just given a speech about it then?
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:22 PM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Now that science has spoken, great wealth and fame await the inventor of the paper towel dispenser which is indestructible, whose marginal cost is zero, is parsimonious in towel dispensing and impervious to thieving monkeys.

Come to think of it, it's the perfect market for the HP Printer division to move into... we await paper towels that cost $1000 per ounce, have microchips embedded in them, and have to be refilled on the hour.
posted by ennui.bz at 2:27 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Although then you miss out on the fun of those really high-powered dryers that literally blow the skin on the back of your hand around so that it waves and flaps off your hand bones like a rooster's wattle. That's entertaining enough to warrant a little extra germiness.
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:27 PM on December 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


Why not just carry our own washable hand towels around with us everywhere?
posted by mareli at 2:34 PM on December 5, 2012


I call those "my pants"
posted by Greg Nog at 2:37 PM on December 5, 2012 [20 favorites]


I call them your pants, too.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:38 PM on December 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


The article says "bacteria", which I suppose is important in hospitals, but both cold and flu, the contagions that ordinary people are most likely to acquire, are viruses, not bacteria. Most bacteria doesn't matter at all, if you have a functioning immune system.
posted by Fnarf at 2:39 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I still have deeply troubling memories of the endless towel devices at my middle school. Vaguely damp, oddly smelly and subtly stained, they never actually dried hands and were the likely harbour of countless viral plagues each in turn sweeping through the school body.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:45 PM on December 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


A friend's older brother told me that those towels went back through the wall to a laundry room where they were washed and then fed back through to the machine. Even at 6 I knew he was a lying jerkface.
posted by elizardbits at 2:47 PM on December 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, I remember those endless towels. They were really worst in restaurants, somehow. But the super high powered dryers are more fun than paper towels.
posted by jeather at 2:52 PM on December 5, 2012


Based on my observations of Unsanitary Male Restroom Syndrome (UMRS) at movie theaters, most men cheat their way through hand washing to much a degree that the method of drying matters nil. Some of the pathologies I've observed (these patterns tend to occur in clusters):

* Wave Theory: Flippantly waving fingers beneath faucet.

* Blind Wave Theory: Waving the hands in front of the faucet, i.e. not getting them wet at all.

* X-Axis Paralysis: holding clenched hands beneath faucet without any hand motion what so ever.

* Prestidigitation: the horizontal locomotion of hands beneath faucet at speeds unperceivable to the human eye.

* Imaginary Affinity Purification: Not using soap. Occurs almost always and in conjunction with other UMRS patterns.

I'm not sure how society can fix UMRS other than to chop off every single male's hands.

Written on my iPhone using my stumps.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:54 PM on December 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


they can also be used to turn off the tap and/or open the door, thereby decreasing the chance of surface-to-skin transmission

That's the thing about bathrooms I'm still working out. You can enter, but you can't leave (without getting your hands contaminated all over again).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:17 PM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Unsanitary Male Restroom Syndrome

I end up doing most of the purchasing for my office, and my boss has a particular brand of bar soap he prefers for the men's room . There are 10 men in my office and 12 women. The women's bathroom goes through what I consider to be a normal amount of soap (about a gallon of liquid hand soap per quarter). The men's room? I can order a 3-pack of that bar soap and it will last an entire fucking year.

I try not to touch too many things that are not mine exclusively in the office.
posted by elizardbits at 3:20 PM on December 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


Communal bar soap is disgusting.
posted by srboisvert at 3:24 PM on December 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


great wealth and fame await the inventor of the paper towel dispenser which is indestructible, whose marginal cost is zero, is parsimonious in towel dispensing and impervious to thieving monkeys.

Have you ever seen one of those contraptions with a circular towel that feeds back into the machine after use to (presumably) be washed for reuse? I have and they are disgusting. I wish poverty and obscurity upon their creator.
posted by eurypteris at 3:27 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Communal bar soap is disgusting.

It's not so bad if you put a little salt and lemon-pepper on it.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:30 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


It is really disturbing how long the men's room soap dispenser at work can be out or broken before anyone seems to either notice or complain.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:30 PM on December 5, 2012


As someone here once asked, "It's soap. How would you clean it?"
posted by Richard Daly at 3:31 PM on December 5, 2012


Sometimes you eat the bar soup, and sometimes the bar is stew.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:32 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


The men's room? I can order a 3-pack of that bar soap and it will last an entire fucking year.

Yeah, get liquid soap for the guys and you'll see their soap use go way up. Who the hell uses bar soap in a public bathroom?
posted by pracowity at 3:33 PM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's the thing about bathrooms I'm still working out. You can enter, but you can't leave (without getting your hands contaminated all over again).

Is there any reason why the majority of public restrooms seem to have doors that open inwards? If they opened outwards, then we could replace that icky door handle with a considerably more sanitary kickplate.

You'd think the fire code would already mandate restrooms with outwardly opening doors to speed evacuation.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 3:38 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, get liquid soap for the guys and you'll see their soap use go way up.

DON'T YOU THINK I'VE FUCKING TRIED

OH GOD HOW I'VE TRIED
posted by elizardbits at 3:41 PM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Any discussion of paper towels always reminds me of the one TED talk that really did change my life.
posted by nat at 3:42 PM on December 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I still have deeply troubling memories of the endless towel devices at my middle school.

Everyone understands that those things aren't really "endless", right? It's not one continuous roll of towel in there, that just goes around and around. There are two spools in the machine, a clean side and a dirty side. When you pull down, it unrolls from the clean side and rolls onto the dirty side. When you run out of clean towel, it just won't unreel anymore. (If you keep using the towel at that point, yeah that's gross.)

Here's a page with a diagram of how they work. The manufacturers naturally claim that they're even better at removing bacteria from hands than paper towels. Although they obviously are biased, it seems plausible since the cloth towels certainly have more surface area available.

Whether they're more environmentally friendly probably depends on how dear water and energy are (for washing the towels) in your area, versus the cheap softwood or recycled paper used to make paper towels.

The only place I've seen those systems recently are in (almost always only the employee restrooms of) restaurants where they have a commercial linen service coming in daily or every few days to clean tablecloths, cloth napkins, uniforms, and other stuff.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:45 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I once had a coworker who maintained angrily that she was better off just not washing her hands all day until she got home.

Of course, she also believed in all that Atkins stuff and now she's on a whole host of blood pressure and heart meds in her late 20s...so maybe she's not that into science.
posted by trackofalljades at 3:46 PM on December 5, 2012


Towels are a necessity.

I have no personal interest in touching strangers' johnsons or wiping their rears for them. Hence, given the bathroom habits of many men, I have no personal interest in touching a bathroom door handle.
posted by Old Man McKay at 3:51 PM on December 5, 2012


In my former capacity as the facility manager for a distinctive Baltimore institution (not, for the record, my clock tower), I developed an unnatural fixation on AirBlades, XLerators, and the lesser-known Mitsubishi Jet Towel, partly because they're neato, but mostly because you people, by which I mean everyday folks not in the building maintenance trade, are filthy, filthy animals.

From my end, I learned more about the sociology of people than I ever wanted to learn. Given a full dispenser of toilet paper of decent quality and people will still grab a wad of paper towels, cover the toilet seat with 'em, wipe their ass with 'em, flush 'em unsuccessfully, and then shit on the wad of clogged paper towels lodged there just because humans are gross. If, when a person has washed their hands and dried them with a paper towel, that towel will only be deposited in a receptacle properly approximately one out of five times. The other time, the little wad of paper towel will land on the floor and the former user of that wadded up towel will, statistically speaking, never pick it up because ewwwww bathroom floor.

My bathrooms were consistently lovely, to the point that we won an award for the best bathrooms in Baltimore, but nevertheless, most normal people are filthy, filthy animals, so the people defy the polite signs that say "Please do not flush paper towels" and set to cloggin' and leave little flocks of wadded paper towels waiting for a shepherd on the floor. It's okay—someone will clean that up. They'll most likely be low income people and often people of color, but hey, it's a tough economy, right?

I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about this about this. Bathrooms are where my optimism and faith in humanity fades. People are so brain damaged by shame about using the potty that they all revert to this feral state of wildness in there, except for the moronic folks who are wild-eyed with fear about toilet seats, despite that they're bacteriologically more inert than phones, desks, and lots of other things that don't cause revulsion in any but the most neurotic among us.

The thing about the jet and blade-type hand dryers is that they work well and work fast, so people will use them. I used to make little furtive lunch trips to the nearby Harborplace just to wash and dry my hands with their AirBlades, and would return to work on my grant applications to install them at the museum. They're fiendishly expensive, but the savings pays for them in a reasonably short time, and no towels means a massive reduction in clogged toilets and less clean-up time in the bathrooms, as well as an environmental bonus.

I'd worked up great language, cultivated a few key foundations and charities, and was so very close to getting funding for jet dryers and autoflush on the toilets (a key point of sanitation that I believe would make up the difference in supposed cleanliness of dryers over towels) when another distinctive Baltimore institution called out to me from across the sparkling waters. If I had the same kind of visitor volume where I am now, I'd resurrect that language, but you have to make your choices in the world of nonprofits. When I'm rich and famous, though, I'm going to donate all those things to the museum, as well as enough talking magical buttcleaning Japanese toilet seats to make sure that every visitor will have a lovely time and my former staff will spend as little time as possible dealing with the thoughtlessness of filthy, filthy animals. Will cost a million, but will be worth it. The Joe Belknap Wall Memorial Evacutorium has a nice ring, no?


[Also, for clarification, bathroom doors open in because people going to the bathroom are always rushing and not paying attention and out-swinging doors cause injuries. People leaving the facilities are generally a bit more relaxed and circumspect.]
posted by sonascope at 4:01 PM on December 5, 2012 [35 favorites]


I know bathroom stuff has the squick factor, but there are plenty of things you touch at the office that are far filthier than the bathroom door or even the toilet. The dirtiest thing in your office is probably the break room table, or especially the sink if you have one. Your keyboard, your mouse, your phone are all much germier than anything in the toilets.
posted by Fnarf at 4:02 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


P.S. The article is wrong about the least-used toilet. Toilets at the ends of rows are the most used.
posted by sonascope at 4:07 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


The men's room? I can order a 3-pack of that bar soap and it will last an entire fucking year.

Can't you get both liquid AND bar soap for the men's restroom? Or is this just the grossest cost-saving method ever?
posted by jeather at 4:11 PM on December 5, 2012


It sits there unused for months until someone knocks it off the side of the sink into the trash can and then it is thrown away unless the cleaning lady rescues it.
posted by elizardbits at 4:20 PM on December 5, 2012


Studies have shown blowers tend to spread bacteria between 3 and 6 feet from the device

Yeah, see, I already suspected this to be true, because when I wear shorts and flip-flops in the summer, like most people, and I go to use the louder-than-aircraft downward-facing blow-dryers in the filthy restrooms at Target, or at a rest stop somewhere, I can feel the little bits of moisture getting all over my legs and feet. I just try to keep my feet as far away from the air stream as possible, while simultaneously trying to hold my breath so I don't breathe in all the bacteria and dust kicked up from the floor, and then I try to put the entire experience out of my mind.
posted by limeonaire at 4:24 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and upward-facing blow-dryers aren't any better, because as cool as it is to see the skin on your hands get all wrinkly, I'm still pretty sure they're blowing around all the bacteria that's fallen into them every time they start up, and it's also much harder to avoid touching them. Uck.
posted by limeonaire at 4:26 PM on December 5, 2012


Any discussion of paper towels always reminds me of the one TED talk that really did change my life.

Oh yeah, I love that video. I could not believe his claims that you can get your hands drier with his one towel technique than most people do with a fistful of paper towels. I tried it and it is absolutely true, so I always use this technique. But I was horrified (and intrigued) by his lecture's closing statement.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:27 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


The shake your booty technique is a proven winner.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:30 PM on December 5, 2012


You know, this knowledge is not new. The healthcare organization that I work for has been doing this since 2005, and even now offers their marketing material free of charge because they believe it's that important.

But sure, give Mayo credit for this.
posted by Blue_Villain at 5:08 PM on December 5, 2012


The one paper towel technique really does work.

However, I can never just get one towel out of the dispenser at a time. For some reason the facilities people at my workplace insist on stuffing the dispensers to the point of imminent gravitational collapse into a black hole. If you try to get any paper towels out of them you'll inevitably end up with a 2 or 3 inch thick wad of paper towels, half of which are torn to shreds.

Drives me nuts.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:19 PM on December 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Now can we get a study showing that it's impossible to wash your hands in a restroom that doesn't have hooks when you're wearing OR holding your giant winter coat. PUT HOOKS IN RESTROOMS, WORLD. JUST DO IT.
posted by bleep at 6:24 PM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Now can we get a study showing that it's impossible to wash your hands in a restroom that doesn't have hooks when you're wearing OR holding your giant winter coat. PUT HOOKS IN RESTROOMS, WORLD. JUST DO IT.

Given that Japan doesn't seem to have hooks by sinks, we'll be waiting a long time. (That said, some bathrooms at my university have hooks and a helpful shelf and we're a long way from Japanese levels of bathroom sophistication.)
posted by hoyland at 6:28 PM on December 5, 2012


Is there any reason why the majority of public restrooms seem to have doors that open inwards?

I just love the bathrooms without any doors, with the curved walls to ensure privacy. Excellent design.
posted by francesca too at 6:29 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


But sure, give Mayo credit for this.

shoulda made yr own FPP, bro!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:34 PM on December 5, 2012


Greg just admit you're a dirty shill for Big Napkin.
posted by elizardbits at 6:51 PM on December 5, 2012


i mean it is totes obvious that your entire metafilter career up til this moment has been the longest of cons amirite
posted by elizardbits at 6:52 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


But I was horrified (and intrigued) by his lecture's closing statement.

You want a toilet paper tip? Wet wipes. They are so much more effective than toilet paper that one package of wet wipes will last you the equivalent of four or five rolls of toilet paper, so they're not even that much more expensive, and they're way, way more pleasant to use. Doesn't help you in public, but at home, man. Wet wipes.
posted by Caduceus at 8:05 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


autoflush on the toilets (a key point of sanitation that I believe would make up the difference in supposed cleanliness of dryers over towels)

I'm all for more sanitary bathrooms but if I have to deal with one more autoflush toilet flush while I'm in the middle of peeing, I will seriously go ballistic. SO UNPLEASANT
posted by triggerfinger at 8:15 PM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Our cleaning staff are (I swear) too short to replace the paper towel roll in the dispenser, so they leave it on the counter...where it gets soaked form people holdings it down to tear off a few feet. I found a key to the dispenser (so I can stop using my Leatherman to open it), but now that I am ready to help, they just switched to dropping tall stacks of individual folded paper towels on the counter. Which are soaked the minute they are set out. *facepalm*
posted by wenestvedt at 8:25 PM on December 5, 2012


You know, bleep, I have been meaning for years to take a drill & some coathooks into the men's rooms at work. I just might do it now, in your honor.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:26 PM on December 5, 2012


I had no beef with blow dryers in bathrooms until my son was born and we discovered that the noise of the air dryers sends him into a panic when they go off. The one at our local Costco is particularly bad as the dryer is directly next to the changing table, it's a super extra loud one, and it's a busy bathroom so it's constantly going off. We've given up changing him there and just do it in the back of the car because listening to an infant screaming is fun for no one and it's a pain in the ass to try and change the diaper on a baby writhing around in panicked fear and anguish.
posted by HMSSM at 8:29 PM on December 5, 2012


Wet wipes.

But they aren't flushable, are they? You end up with a trash bin full of poo-ey dried wet wipes or you end up going through a ton of plastic garbage liners (or you have to transfer those poo-ey dried wet wipes into another garbage container in play). It'd be like having a kid in diapers... for ever.
posted by porpoise at 8:34 PM on December 5, 2012


they make flushable ones though.
posted by elizardbits at 8:51 PM on December 5, 2012


I just love the bathrooms without any doors, with the curved walls to ensure privacy. Excellent design.

Just be aware that these curved entrances work like an ear drum and funnel sound from the outside hall into the bathroom. My college had these and I was mortified to discover that everything said in the hall and adjacent lounge space could be heard with crystal clarity by the 'seated' audience using the facilities. I learned the hard way not to talk smack any where near giant architecturally simulated ear canals. Big Pooper is listening!
posted by srboisvert at 9:10 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh my god I haaaaate the jet engine sound of the dreaded Dyson. A scourge, that thing is.
posted by desuetude at 10:22 PM on December 5, 2012


It is really disturbing how long the men's room soap dispenser at work can be out or broken before anyone seems to either notice or complain

Too often at work I have the choice either between getting my feet wet, or seeing a happy brown meat pie floater waving back at me. A broken soap dispenser is a small nuisance compared to that.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:47 PM on December 5, 2012


RonButNotStupid wrote: You'd think the fire code would already mandate restrooms with outwardly opening doors to speed evacuation.

Take the locks off the toilet cubicles so you have to keep them closed with your feet; you'll find people evacuating in a fraction of the time.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:53 PM on December 5, 2012


Communal bar soap is disgusting.

When I was in France I saw these everywhere which made me feel like I was jacking off the soap to get my hands clean. Counter-intuitive to say the least.
posted by ODiV at 12:01 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bathrooms are where my optimism and faith in humanity fades.

Portos at festivals that aren't burning man.

One of the things that has worked very well as a social pressure is the "if it didn't come out of your body, it doesn't go in the potty" mantra at That Thing In The Desert. For most of the week, anyway. There are, of course, many times where the potties are vile. And the consideration people give ebbs and flows. But, compared to, say, Coachella? They might as well be the Pope's Private Privy.

I get so annoyed at how people treat those plastic cages of excrement at most venues. I keep wanting to put up signs that say "you do realize that it's other human beings that have to clean these, right? Not an army of robots? And if it WAS robots, that it would just hasten the arrival of a road of skulls for a robot tank to crush as it drives towards your inevitable and painful extermination?"

That's a bit wordy for a flyer, though.
posted by flaterik at 12:47 AM on December 6, 2012


You want a toilet paper tip? Wet wipes.

NO NO NO. Wet wipes are a scourge. Why, you might ask? Here's the thing—wet wipes are nice and sturdy, which is why, from the point of the user, they're a neat thing. In pipes, though, you have this perfect little square of fabric in the waste stream. They don't soften up and fall apart, and they don't dissolve. What they do is to snag on the rough spots in cast iron waste pipes and then sit there, waiting, until another wet wipe comes along, which also gets stuck. Eventually, there's this plug of sewer cholesterol there, narrowing the pipe's diameter until finally, it's just a wad of fabric holding back a giant impacted mass of shit, and in time, the wet wipe user flushes the toilet and floods the bathroom and bingo, it's time to call the building super. The poor building super, plumber, or stalwart spouse has to clean it up, then go into the main clean-out and extract this monstrous impacted mass of shit and wet wipes in a process so horribly disgusting that I will spare you the details.

Even better, the ones that make it through go on to screw up the process tanks at the treatment plant. You might as well just flush rolls of cellophane down the toilet for what it does to to the system.

If you're set on wet wipes—use regular toilet paper first, flush that, use the wet wipes for the OCD part and then dispose of them in a trash can, which is where they belong.
posted by sonascope at 3:34 AM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Has no one mentioned the obvious? Perhaps because its too obvious?

Restaurants and other institutions use blowers instead of paper towels because they don't require someone to empty the trash, refill the holders and clean up the mess and therefore they are unlikely to change merely because of some scientists' concerns about public health.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 5:53 AM on December 6, 2012


I'll give you my Xlerator when you pry it from my warm, dry hands.
posted by banwa at 6:21 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


if I have to deal with one more autoflush toilet flush while I'm in the middle of peeing, I will seriously go ballistic.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:15 PM on December 5 [+][!]


Am I the only one who finds this funny?
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:27 AM on December 6, 2012


The better bathrooms, particularly in places where the spread of disease is really critical to limit (like airports), can be used without placing your hands on pretty much anything. They don't have a door and have hands-free flush, water, soap dispensing and towel dispensing. You have have to touch a latch if you use a stall; that seems to be the remaining hold out. It always shocks me to go into something like an airport and not have such facilities.
posted by Bovine Love at 7:05 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


All I ask for out of a public washroom is that there be a trash receptacle next to the door. That way I can use my (single) paper towel to pull open the door handle, then dispose of it neatly. If you don't provide paper towels and I must touch a door handle on my way out, I am probably going to use my shirt sleeve or elbow or maybe go so far as to try to open the door by yanking on the auto-closer arm instead of the handle.

It's so bizarre. Don't people who work in these buildings use the washrooms? Does no one give any thought about these issues? I don't want to touch things other people have touched once I have washed my hands. It's just that simple, you facilities people, make it so.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:23 AM on December 6, 2012


This wet wipe vs. toilet paper kerfuffle is moot, as we all know that reuseable cloth wipes are the future.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:25 AM on December 6, 2012


But I thought three seashells were the future.
posted by fings at 8:47 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


You'd think the fire code would already mandate restrooms with outwardly opening doors to speed evacuation.

I don't see how that could possibly affect the speed of my...oh.
posted by malocchio at 9:19 AM on December 6, 2012


They make wet wipes that fall apart like toilet paper, guys. Or at least the ones I've been buying claim that do. Whether anyone anywhere is bothering to enforce truth in advertising regulations there, I do not know.
posted by Caduceus at 5:37 PM on December 6, 2012


The wipes I use have the following on the packaging (and in the linked FAQ): 'biodegradable, dispersible and flushable - sewer and septic safe.'
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:51 PM on December 7, 2012


Most bacteria doesn't matter at all, if you have a functioning immune system.

...

Restaurants and other institutions use blowers instead of paper towels because they don't require someone to empty the trash, refill the holders and clean up the mess and therefore they are unlikely to change merely because of some scientists' concerns about public health.


You're not getting food-borne illness because a conscientious employee used a blower instead of paper towels.

I bet Mayo doesn't care too much about what restaurants do, what otherwise healthy people do in their lives. This is the sort of research that means pretty much nothing to most people beyond fueling their gripes. It's the same as "chocolate is good for you/chocolate is bad for you" journalism.

The reason Mayo looks at this is because of health care-- a field where everybody washes their hands at least every fifteen minutes, and where there's a huge population without fully functioning immune systems. That's the only field where this potentially matters. But inside of that field, the potential for improvement is immense. Hospital-acquired infections are a serious problem, and occur way too frequently.. People get sick and even die because of them.
posted by nathan v at 11:11 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why are we so intent on having dry hands? Leave 'em wet, and they'll dry by themselves in a few minutes. Why people dry their hands after washing them and then going into the pool, I'll never understand. They have hand towels in the bathroom at the waterpark. First world problems, I guess.

I can see a need for this when it is cold outside.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 7:41 PM on December 9, 2012


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