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You've been using paper towels wrong your whole life. Here's how to completely dry your hands using only one.

This is the TED talk that has changed my life more than any other. It's one I've shared with dozens of people. It's about paper towels:

More specifically, it's about how to dry your hands with only a single paper towel. And it works. The video, by lawyer Joe Smith, is only four and a half minutes long. But if that's too long for you, here's the simple summary:

1) Shake
Shake your hands first. Smith recommends 12 times. In my experience, fewer than that is often enough.

2) Fold
Take one paper towel. Fold it in half. Then use it for both of your hands. And that's all you need.

Smith says that folding the towel makes it more effective because of  "interstitial suspension." In other words, the water gets suspended in the empty space between the paper towel's layers. (This wicking phenomenon is also called capillary action.)

Smith is very excited about his paper towel method because he says that Americans use 13 billion pounds of paper towels a year, and this could drastically cut that waste down though smarter shaking and folding. Shake. And fold.