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To evaluate warm air and paper towel drying for removing bacteria from washed hands.
After hands were washed with non-antibacterial soap, they were dried using warm air with and without ultraviolet light, while being rubbed or held stationary, or paper towels. Each method was performed as a randomized trial using 30 hands.
Log colony-forming units (CFU) on palms and fingers increased significantly when hands were dried with warm air while being rubbed for 15 seconds (P < .001), and many bacteria remained at 30 seconds without ultraviolet light (P < .001). Holding hands stationary while drying significantly decreased log CFU on palms, fingers, and fingertips (P < .01 or < .001). Few CFU were detected on palms and fingers dried with ultraviolet light. Although log CFU of palms and fingers did not decrease after drying with three sheets of paper towel, those of fingertips decreased significantly (P < .001). For palms and fingers, log reductions were greater with warm air drying while holding hands stationary, paper towels, and warm air drying while rubbing hands. For fingertips, the log reduction was often greater with paper towels than with warm air.
Holding hands stationary and not rubbing them was desirable for removing bacteria. Ultraviolet light reinforced the removal of bacteria during warm air drying. Paper towels were useful for removing bacteria from fingertips but not palms and fingers.
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