Removal of paper towel dispensers induces undried hands


Photo from Flickr

The Staples bathrooms were once filled with paper towel dispensers just like this one, until they recently vanished from our school walls.

You crank out the pink drippy soap and run cold water over your hands, mentally preparing yourself to go back to class after your short bathroom break. You twist off the dripping faucet and walk over to the wall, seeking the only immediate drying agent: the paper towel dispenser. But times have changed, as in place of the paper towels is an empty wall. You grieve for a second before accepting defeat and air-shaking off your cold, wet hands as you walk back to class.

This chilling scenario has been faced by many Staples students when the paper towel dispensers were removed from bathrooms. Gone without a word, many were left confused. And with wet hands.

Back when we had the freedom of choice between the paper towels or the electric hand dryers, many students chose the superior paper towels. For one, they are much more efficient. A few swipes with one paper towel and your hands are nearly dry, while the electric hand dryers require much more time to still leave your hands damp. Another disadvantage of these dryers for me personally is the overpowering sound they exude, so loud it is almost offensive.

A few swipes with one paper towel and your hands are nearly dry, while the electric hand dryers require much more time to still leave your hands damp

— Anna Kercher '25

However, the most important fault of the hand dryers is something that affects everyone in our Staples community. Electric hand dryers have proven to be much more unhygienic than paper towels. According to a study at the University of Westminster, air dryers can increase the germ count on fingertips by up to 42 percent, while hot air dryers can increase germs on fingertips by up to 194 percent. While paper towels reduce the number of bacteria on the hands, these electric hand dryers significantly increase and spread bacteria. This doesn’t seem like a very good thing as a school who is still recovering from Covid-19, not to mention all the various flus and sicknesses that have plagued students and staff heavily this season. Our only remaining hand drying choice is one that increases the chances of getting us sick.

Because of this, some students choose to forgo the hand dryers, leaving us with dripping wet hands. This ensues methods like rapidly shaking hands to get water to spray off, or wiping wet hands on clothes. This is uncomfortable, and only serves to remind us of all we lost the day the paper towels disappeared.

Bring back our paper towel dispensers and save our dry hands.