hand dryers

An Unconventional Guide to Hand Dryers

You’re at the point of considering your options regarding hand dryers in the restroom. You’re thinking about paper towels and the accompanying dispenser, and you know they get the job done. But then visions of overflowing trash bins, new and unused stacks of towels carelessly thrown away, continual reordering, and the time needed for refilling the dispenser, cleaning up the paper thrown on the floor, and regular removal of the waste cast a cloud over your certainty.

hand dryers

So you turn your attention to electric hand dryers. Your first thought: I always end up with wet pants because those dang dryers don’t get the job done. Next thought: I went to the restroom in the first place to avoid having wet pants!

So why do you see electric hand dryers everywhere? It’s a simple answer:


High Speed, Energy Efficient (HSEE) hand dryers. These aren’t the hand dryers of your childhood. Today’s manufacturers have taken every problem related to those older, traditional models, and eliminated them. Gone are the 60 second drying times! Gone is the need to push a button to activate the unit! And most importantly, gone is the need to finish drying your hands on your pants because the dryer simply wasn’t getting the job done!

hand dryers

Today’s HSEE dryers boast 10-15 second dry times and use up to 80% less electricity than those traditional models from your childhood. 10 seconds is also the average time that it takes a person to dry his hands with paper towels, so hand dryers of today have closed the gap.


High-efficiency hand dryers today, when compared to paper towel dispensers, can produce considerable savings. Consider the following usage data (your consumption and cost might vary):


Number of cases of paper towel used annually: 10

Cost per case delivered (include freight and tax): $40.00

Number of towels per case: 4000

Your KWH Rate: .20 (This would be among the highest rates nationally)

  • Total paper towel costs per year: $400.00
  • Handling cost (50% of item cost – generating requisitions, purchase orders, receiving, storing, servicing, collecting and disposing of used towels): $200.00



Using the same information, consider the savings generated by high-efficiency hand dryers: 


Number of paper towels used annually: 40,000 hand dryers

Number of hand dryings annually (40,000 divided by 2.5 towels per dry): 16,000

Hours of hand dryer usage (based on number of dryings above): 67

Cost of electricity per hour (1.5 KW x .20): $0.30



The total operating costs for paper towels and hand dryers are very different. Paper towels conservatively cost over 90% more than HSEE hand dryers, but installation and actual product cost is quite a bit lower for the paper towel dispenser.


While the savings numbers would appear to favor the HSEE hand dryers, it is worth pointing out that it is incredibly difficult to find a scientific study comparing hand dryers to paper towels that were not funded or conducted by a manufacturer of these products.
Especially in the area of hygiene, an independent study of these two product categories would be useful to the consumer.

Click over to Sustainable Supply’s Hand Dryer Page for an in-depth Hand Dryer Buying Guide.

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