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Why is it important to thoroughly dry your hands after washing?

One study suggests you can undo all of the good of washing your hands if you don't dry them well.

ATLANTA – The coronavirus has likely changed our handwashing habits forever, but some people aren’t finishing the drill.

Healthcare experts say it’s important to dry your hands thoroughly after each wash.

“The drying is the final part,” says Dr. Trina von Waldner, Senior Public Service Associate at the University of Georgia’s College of Pharmacy.

One study suggests that you can erase all of the benefits of washing if you fail to dry your hands thoroughly.

Germs love moisture. If your hands are still damp after you leave the sink, you’re providing a place for germs and bacteria to thrive the next time they have the opportunity to hitch a ride.

Dr. von Waldner says viruses can use that moisture to hide.

“It facilitates the movement of those bacteria very quickly to areas of your hand where they can stay under the nails, between the fingers,” says Dr. von Waldner.

Some viruses can get around on their own. Others need help and moisture is the perfect way for them to hitch a ride.

Dr. von Waldner says the best way to dry your hands is with a paper towel you can then discard or a cloth towel that you’re not sharing with someone else.

“Make sure it’s clean,” says von Waldner. “Use a clean dry towel going between the fingers, concentrating on all areas of the hand.”

In other words, all of the time and effort you use to wash your hands, do the same when it comes to drying.


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