Cintas Survey: Consumers Prefer Paper Towels

Posted July 20, 2017 at 3:32 pm

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To identify which hand-drying method is preferred in the U.S., Cintas Corp. commissioned a survey conducted online by Harris Poll, May 19-23, among 2,048 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. The study found that the majority of Americans (69%) prefer to use paper towels over air dryers when drying their hands in public restrooms, according to a news release.

Of those that chose paper towels as their preferred method to dry their hands in a public restroom, the top five reasons include:

  • Paper towels dry hands better, 70%
  • Paper towels dry hands faster, 69%
  • Paper towels provide something to open the restroom door with, 52%
  • Air dryers blow bacteria (e.g., on hands, in the air), 24%
  • Air dryers are too loud, 22%

“What this data tells us is that the majority of Americans want a quick, thorough and hygienic public restroom experience,” said John Engel, director of marketing, Cintas. “While paper towels reduce the number of bacteria on hands, air dryers increase them, leading to further contamination of not only clean hands, but other restroom users up to six feet away. This makes paper towels a ‘no brainer’ choice for hand drying.”

Paper towels are not only more hygienic, but they are also better for the health of restroom users’ ears, the release said. In fact, jet hand dryers have the same impact on ears as a close-range pneumatic drill, and are especially dangerous for children’s ears as air dryers are typically positioned at the same height as a child’s head.

The survey also found that age is a factor in the paper towels versus hand dryer debate. Seventy-six percent of Americans aged 35-44 prefer paper towels compared to only 60% of those aged 18-34. Additionally, women are more likely than men to prefer paper towels with 73% and 66%, respectively.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Cintas from May 19-23, 2017, among 2,048 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Jennifer Petersen at 312.664.1532 or via e-mail at