Dry Hands Are 1,000 Times Safer Than Damp Hands

Washing Hands Properly Becomes Increasingly Important During the Flu Season

PHILADELPHIA--()--Countries around the world are trying to tackle the escalating H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic in different ways. Advice from all authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), remains the same: good hand hygiene, particularly in public places. Despite this, there are still too few people who know how to wash and dry their hands in the most hygienic way.

“Our hands touch 300 different surfaces every 30 minutes. And, according to the CDC, up to 40 percent of Americans could contract the H1N1 virus through 2010. So properly washing and, equally important, effectively drying your hands is a simple way of dramatically decreasing your risk of being infected,” says Mike Kapalko, SCA Tissue’s Environmental & Tork Services Manager. “As a leader in hygienic solutions, Tork provides businesses and consumers with handwashing resources such as posters and educational videos through our website.”

The WHO estimates that two billion people1, one third of the world’s population, could be infected before the end of the pandemic and North American college and university campuses have begun to report hundreds, and in one case thousands, of potential H1N1 cases over the past two weeks.

Viruses can survive on common surfaces like faucet or door handles for up to 72 hours, and considering that we use our hands for almost everything, good hand hygiene is essential to minimize the spread.

Dry Hands Help Reduce the Risk

Damp hands spread 1,000 times more germs than dry hands2. It is therefore as important to dry your hands as it is to wash them carefully with soap and warm water. When away from home, a single-use paper towel ensures that hands can be completely dried and are virtually germ free.

Paper towels also help the cleaning itself, due to generated friction. Up to 99 percent of the germs can be removed by drying your hands properly3. The drier your hands, the safer you will be.

Paper Towels Are the Key to Hygienic Hands

Getting from 90 percent dry to nearly 100 percent dry is extremely important. A single-use paper towel is the most effective option, as it only takes a few seconds to dry your hands completely and removes close to 100% of germs in hand drying. A warm air dryer takes an average of 43 seconds to get your hands only 95 percent dry.

A 2008 University of Westminster study shows paper towels are the only option that actually reduces the number of bacteria on your hands (by up to 77%). Many people believe incorrectly that hot air drying is the most hygienic way to dry your hands, but compared to single use paper towels, warm air dryers can actually increase the bacteria on your hands by up to 254 percent4.

Paper towels are also the preferred way of drying hands in public washrooms, as demonstrated in a recent Harris Interactive Consumer Poll, comparing user’s attitudes toward different hand-drying solutions. A clear majority (55%) prefer single-use paper towels to jet air dryers (25%), warm and hot air dryers (16%) and cloth or linen towels (1%)5.

Advice from Tork on taking care of your hands during the flu season

When should you wash your hands?


Good hand hygiene is especially important during flu seasons and when you are in public places. Wash your hands often and dry them thoroughly. If available, use an instant hand sanitizer as a supplement between washes. To prevent infection and cross-contamination you should wash your hands:

  • After arriving at work.
  • Before meals or eating any food.
  • After visiting the restroom.
  • After sneezing.
  • Before preparing food.
  • Before and after visiting a sick person.
  • After arriving home.
  • When hands are visibly dirty.

After washing and drying your hands:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact such as shaking hands and kissing people on the cheek. Especially with people who are sick.
  • Cough or sneeze against your sleeve or in a paper tissue that you throw in a waste basket.

The best way to wash and dry your hands

Hands are full of surfaces that can be difficult to reach, which means that many people tend to forget certain parts. When you go to a public washroom, washing your hands properly should take about as long as singing “Happy Birthday” twice.

  1. Wet hands with clean warm water.
  2. Apply soap.
  3. Rub hands together vigorously and scrub all surfaces for 20 seconds. Remember to wash both of your thumbs as thumbs are quite often skipped in the handwashing process!
  4. Make sure to wash under nails, watches and jewelry since millions of germs gather there.
  5. Rinse with clean water.
  6. Dry hands with a single-use paper towel until they are completely dry.
  7. Use the paper towel to avoid contact with frequently touched surfaces while leaving the washroom, such as the faucet and door handles.
  8. Since hands are to be washed frequently, use mild and gentle soaps.

Tork has created an informational video on proper handwashing.
Check it out at www.torkusa.com/handwashingvideo to view.

About Tork

The Tork brand offers a complete range of products and services within hygiene and cleaning for away from home washrooms, healthcare, food service and industry. Through customer understanding and particular expertise in hygiene and sustainability, Tork has become a market leader in many segments and a committed partner to businesses in over 90 countries. Tork is a global brand in the SCA portfolio. To keep up with the latest Tork news and innovations, please visit: www.torkusa.com.

About SCA

SCA is a global hygiene and paper company that develops, produces and markets personal care products, tissue, packaging solutions and solid-wood products, with sales of around $15 billion USD. The SCA Group employs approximately 50,000 people and has production in 60 countries. The hygiene portfolio includes global brands TENA and Tork, and regional brands Tempo, Zewa, Velvet, Libero, Libresse and Edet. SCA hygiene solutions are found in over 90 countries. SCA is recognized as a global leader in sustainable development. SCA was ranked as the world’s greenest paper company in 2007 by The Independent newspaper and EIRIS research. For more information about SCA, hygiene and sustainability, please visit: www.sca.com.

1 Interview by Frank Jordans (Associated Press) with Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security and Environment

2 Patrick, D.R., Findon, G., Miller, T.E., Epidemiology and Infection

3 Patrick D.R., Findon, G., Miller, Epidemiol Infection

4 Redway, Keith & Fawdar, Shameem, University of Westminster Study

5 Harris Interactive Online Poll


Kelly Felter, Cramer-Krasselt
312-616-3820 OR kfelter@c-k.com


Kelly Felter, Cramer-Krasselt
312-616-3820 OR kfelter@c-k.com