In the Pursuit of Cleaner Workplaces,
Paper Towels Mop Up the Competition

Sometimes going back to basics is the best way to get the job done. Take handwashing, for example. Good workplace hygiene starts with clean hands, yet almost 95% of adults don’t wash long enough to remove bacteria and germs from their hands.

And while there’s a renewed sense of global attention toward hand washing, the way hands are dried matters, too – particularly when people don’t wash effectively.

With jet air dryers, water droplets that could contain bacteria and germs are blown into the air, traveling as far as 6.5 feet and lingering in the air for up to 15 minutes.

Jet air dryers are also more likely to recontaminate hands during the drying process, which could lead to the spread of germs. That means hands may be more contaminated after jet air drying than before they were washed.

Hands Down, Paper Towels Are Superior

Most studies suggest that paper towels can dry hands efficiently, remove bacteria effectively and cause less contamination of the washroom environment than jet air dryers, according to a review article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.1

Drying with paper towels can remove bacteria that remains on hands after washing by up to 77%. Most people don’t realize that the rubbing process of using paper towels physically removes bacteria along with moisture while also reducing the risk of cross-contamination.

When you look at the data, it’s no wonder that paper towels are the recommended hand-drying method of the World Health Organization's (WHO) “Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care.”2

People Prefer Paper Hand Towels—Purchasers Prefer Scott® Brand

There’s more than science to back up the superiority of paper towels. Users prefer them too.

Hand hygiene adherence would possibly decrease if paper towels are not available in the washroom. Faced with a choice of drying methods, 90% of people showed a preference for paper towels over jet air dryers in the washroom.

Familiar branded solutions like Scott® can increase the perception of cleanliness and improve users’ satisfaction. And now, with our Elevated Scott® Design—a pattern enhancement on some of our best towel and tissue products—your employees and guests can see the difference.

Preferred four-to-one3 over standard towel offerings, the unique pattern enhancement features the iconic Scott® Brand on every sheet.

If you’re thinking about switching to paper hand towels from jet air dryers, consider Scott® Brand, by far the first choice considered by US washroom product purchasers.

Not Your Mother’s Paper Towels and Dispensers

Our products have consistently used paper innovations (like our fast-drying Absorbency Pockets towel technology) for a better towel and bath tissue experience. And now, the most hygienic systems on the market today are fully enclosed, touchless and require refills less often, explained Stephanie Martin, Ph.D., Research Technical Leader (Product) at Kimberly-Clark Professional.

“We recommend our touchless Scott® Control solutions where hygiene is absolutely critical, like health care and foodservice facilities,” she noted. “But today, what employees and customers don’t think of workplaces as hygiene-critical?

“Scott® Control touchless dispensers are designed to help minimize the spread of dirt and germs, and ultra-compact designs fit into tight spaces so you can provide a hand-hygiene solution anywhere. They’re easy to clean and disinfect, and users only take the amount of product needed—the paper hasn’t been touched or exposed to the environment.

“We do recognize that not every company is ready to upgrade to touchless technologies,” Martin continued. “For those that can’t, we’re here to help them create a hygiene improvement plan that meets them where they are—whatever their industry, type of facility or operations.

“For example, we have a lot of great resources to help companies implement more hygienic hand cleaning and drying protocols,” she said. “We can assist them with determining which disinfectants work best with different materials, and the right products for their general surface cleaning. Clean hands plus clean surfaces work together to help minimize exposure to germs.”

Take the next step

Get more tools and resources to create your workplace hygiene improvement plan.



  1. C, Ma W, Stack S. The Hygienic Efficacy of Different Hand-Drying Methods: A Review of the Evidence. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2012;87(8):791-798. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2012.02.019
  2. WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care. Published by the World Health Organization, 2009.
  3. Kimberly-Clark Professional Brand Differentiation Study, 2019