Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Is hand washing enough to stop the spread of disease?

Date:
September 8, 2010
Source:
Wiley - Blackwell
Summary:
Not drying your hands thoroughly after washing them could increase the spread of bacteria, and rubbing your hands whilst using a conventional electric hand dryer could be a contributing factor, according to new research. Frequently people give up drying their hands and wipe them on their clothes instead, but hand-hygiene is a key part of infection control and drying hands after washing is a very important part of the process.

Not drying your hands thoroughly after washing them could increase the spread of bacteria, and rubbing your hands whilst using a conventional electric hand dryer could be a contributing factor, according to new research. Frequently people give up drying their hands and wipe them on their clothes instead, but hand-hygiene is a key part of infection control and drying hands after washing is a very important part of the process.

A study by researchers at the University of Bradford and published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology looked at different methods of hand drying, and their effect on transfer of bacteria from the hands to other surfaces. The different methods included paper towels, traditional hand dryers, which rely on evaporation, and a new model of hand dryer, which rapidly strips water off the hands using high velocity air jets.

Our bodies naturally have bacteria called commensals all over them. However, bacteria from other sources, such as raw meat, can also survive on hands, and can be easily transferred to other surfaces, increasing the risk of cross-contamination. When hands are washed the number of bacteria on the surface of the skin decreases, but they are not necessarily eliminated. If the hands are still damp then these bacteria are more readily transferred to other surfaces.

In this study the researchers quantified the effects of hand drying by measuring the number of bacteria on different parts of the hands before and after different drying methods. Volunteers were asked to wash their hands and place them onto contact plates which were then incubated to measure bacterial growth. The volunteers were then asked to dry their hands using either hand towels or one of three hand dryers, with or without rubbing their hands together, and levels of bacteria were re-measured.

Dr Snelling and her team found that rubbing the hands together whilst using traditional hand dryers could counteract the reduction in bacterial numbers following handwashing. Furthermore, they found that the relative reduction in the number of bacteria was the same, regardless of the hand dryer used, when hands are kept still. When hands are rubbed together during drying, bacteria that live within the skin can be brought to the surface and transferred to other surfaces, along with surface bacteria that were not removed by handwashing. The researchers found the most effective way of keeping bacterial counts low, when drying hands, was using paper towels. Amongst the electric dryers, the model that rapidly stripped the moisture off the hands was best for reducing transfer of bacteria to other surfaces.

Dr Snelling says: "Good hand hygiene should include drying hands thoroughly and not just washing. The most hygienic method of drying hands is using paper towels or using a hand dryer which doesn't require rubbing your hands together."

Editor's Note: The research, commissioned by Dyson but independently peer reviewed, found that the Dyson Airblade was more hygienic than warm air hand dryers and does not create contaminated paper towel waste.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley - Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Snelling, A.M., Saville, T., Stevens, D. and Beggs, C.B. Comparative evaluation of the hygienic efficacy of an ultra-rapid hand dryer vs conventional warm air hand dryers. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2010.04838.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley - Blackwell. "Is hand washing enough to stop the spread of disease?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907071353.htm>.
Wiley - Blackwell. (2010, September 8). Is hand washing enough to stop the spread of disease?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907071353.htm
Wiley - Blackwell. "Is hand washing enough to stop the spread of disease?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907071353.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins