Drying method may be just as important as how hands are washed: 3 study findings

Drying methods affect the number of bacteria remaining on hands after washing, according to research published in the Journal of Hospital Infection.

Eighty volunteers had their hands artificially contaminated with E. coli bacteria before washing and drying. Researchers counted bacteria on the hands and determined the number and types of bacteria remaining on hands that were washed and dried.

The key details to know:

1. Fewer bacteria were present on hands dried with a jet air dryer.

2. Drying hands with paper towels left more bacteria on the hands.

3. Researchers concluded, "The number and types of bacteria remaining on washed hands were affected by the drying method. Hands dried with a jet air dryer harbored fewer viable bacteria, reducing the risk of infection transmission via touch. This could be especially important for healthcare workers who are constantly in contact with large numbers of vulnerable patients."

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