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The 4 Best Paper Towels (2021 Review)

Paper towels help keep the surfaces in your home clean. To learn about the best paper towels on Amazon, read our review below, where we list our top four recommendations and detail the tests each roll underwent. The products listed in this article are available at various home improvement stores and online retailers like Amazon.

Rolls of Paper Towels Adobe

Paper towels are a necessity in every house and can be used to clean countertops, mirrors, and other surfaces. To help you determine which roll of paper towels is best for you, the This Old House Reviews team researched, ordered, and tested four top-rated options from Amazon. Read our review below to learn about the rolls that scored the highest in terms of absorbency, scrubbing ability, and streak prevention.

Most Trusted: Bounty Quick-Size Paper Towels

These paper towels come in a 16-pack and are from one of the most well-known paper towel manufacturers in the industry. The paper towels combine strength and absorbency for quickly cleaning spills and messes around the home. Not to mention, Bounty uses 100% of virgin fibers that come from certified third-party sources.

Key Features

  • Is two-ply
  • Contains 16 rolls
  • Each roll has 128 sheets

What Customers Are Saying

This product has an average customer rating of 4.9 stars out of 5 from close to 46,000 customer reviews on Amazon. Ninety-seven percent of these customers gave the paper towels a 4- or 5-star rating, with only 1% of customers giving them a 1- or 2-star rating.

Customers liked the quality and quantity of these paper towels. The paper was thick and strong, allowing customers to use the sheets without ripping them. Additionally, because each pack comes with 16 large rolls, customers were able to stock up for months of use. However, some customers said that their pack got wet during shipping and arrived moldy.

Our Experience

We started the testing process by pouring soda and water on a countertop. We used two sheets to absorb the water and two sheets to absorb the soda. The sheets were able to remove the liquids without leaving any moisture behind. We then put some honey on the countertop, which a damp sheet was able to easily scrub off.

We finished our testing by using a paper towel to wipe cleaning spray off a bathroom mirror. The paper towel cleaned the mirror without leaving behind any streaks.

Our Score

Metric Score
Metric Score
Absorbency 5/5
Scrubbing ability 5/5
Streak prevention 5/5
Overall score 5/5

Best Tears: Brawny Tear-A-Square Paper Towels

The paper towels in this pack have perforations for easy ripping. Additionally, each sheet has extra perforations for ripping into halves and quarters for smaller messes. These strong and absorbent sheets are a great option for cleaning tough messes in your bathroom and kitchen.

Key Features

  • Is two-ply
  • Contains 16 rolls
  • Each roll has 128 sheets

What Customers Are Saying

These Brawny paper towels have almost 29,000 reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of 4.8 stars. This rating comes from 96% of customers giving the paper towels a 4- or 5-star review and only 2% of customers giving them a 1- or 2-star review.

Customers liked how these paper towels had extra perforations, and many customers used the quarter sheets as napkins during a meal or for cleaning small spills. However, some customers received poorly manufactured rolls with perforations that didn’t cut all the way through the paper, making it difficult to tear off pieces.

Our Experience

These paper towels were able to absorb the soda and water without a problem and easily scrub the honey off of the countertop. Additionally, the paper towels didn’t leave streaks on the bathroom mirror.

Our Score

Metric Score
Metric Score
Absorbency 5/5
Scrubbing ability 5/5
Streak prevention 5/5
Overall score 5/5

Largest Rolls: Presto! Flex-a-Size Paper Towels

These paper towels are larger than most with 158 sheets per roll and 434.5 square feet of paper per roll, giving you a total of 12 large rolls equivalent to the coverage you would receive with 30 regular-sized rolls. They’re a great choice for absorbing big spills or cleaning large messes. Additionally, these paper towels are made with pulp sourced from sustainably managed forests and come with a guarantee that if you’re not satisfied, the manufacturer will issue you a refund.

Key Features

  • Is two-ply
  • Contains 12 rolls
  • Each roll has 158 sheets

What Customers Are Saying

This pack of paper towels has over 56,000 customer reviews. It has an average rating of 4.7 stars, with 93% of customers rating it 4 or 5 stars and 2% of customers rating it 1 or 2 stars.

Most customers bought these paper towels because they were more affordable than paper towels from bigger names, such as Bounty. Though some customers were skeptical about how these paper towels would perform, they were pleased with the paper towels’ strength. However, some customers said the paper towels weren’t as absorbent as competitors, causing them to use them faster.

Our Experience

Similar to the first two paper towel products in this review, these paper towels performed perfectly on all three tests. They were able to soak up all of the soda and water and scrub off all of the honey. They were also able to clean a mirror without leaving streaks.

Our Score

Metric Score
Metric Score
Absorbency 5/5
Scrubbing ability 5/5
Streak prevention 5/5
Overall score 5/5

Best Multifold: Kleenex Multifold Paper Towels

These disposable paper towels are commonly used in paper towel dispensers in public restrooms, but they can also be used around the house. They come in individual sheets that are a little larger than the sheets on a regular roll of paper towels, and they’re folded in thirds to save space. Additionally, these absorbent paper towels are FSC- and EcoLogo-certified and use an elemental chlorine free (ECF) bleaching process.

Key Features

  • Is one-ply
  • Contains 16 packs
  • Each pack has 150 sheets

What Customers Are Saying

These paper towels have around 8,500 customer reviews on Amazon. They have an average rating of 4.7 stars, with 92% of reviews being 4 or 5 stars and 3% of reviews being 1 or 2 stars.

Most reviews were from customers who preferred pre-cut sheets to perforated rolls because they felt like it was more sanitary. Of the multifold paper towel brands customers tried, they liked these the best because of their durability. However, some customers commented that these paper towels were rougher than standard paper towels.

Our Experience

For the absorbency test, we used one sheet to absorb the soda and one sheet to absorb the water. We used one pre-cut sheet, since that was roughly equal to two sheets from a standard roll. The sheets were able to absorb most of each liquid, leaving behind only a little moisture on the counter. While the sheets left behind some liquid, they didn’t leave behind food, as the rough texture of the sheets gave them more abrasiveness for scrubbing the honey.

The paper towels also performed well during the mirror test. After wiping the cleaning spray from the mirror, there were a few streaks on the right side, but they weren’t extremely noticeable.

Our Score

Metric Score
Metric Score
Absorbency 4.5/5
Scrubbing ability 5/5
Streak prevention 4.5/5
Overall score 4.7/5

Buying Guide

From paper towel type to quantity, here are a few factors to consider before buying paper towels for your home.

Paper Towel Type

There are four common types of paper towels, the first two of which we included in this review.

Standard

Standard paper towels are made of paper and come in rolls with perforations. Simply tear a sheet from the roll and use it around your home to clean spills and other messes. After you’re done cleaning, throw the used sheet away.

Multifold

These paper towels are most commonly found in paper towel dispensers in public restrooms. They’re separated into pieces instead of being connected on one continuous roll with perforations for tearing, and they’re usually a little rougher to the touch.

Eco-Friendly

Eco-friendly or recycled paper towels look similar to standard paper towels, except they’re made more sustainably. Instead of cutting down a lot of trees to produce these rolls, paper towel manufacturers make them out of recycled paper or sustainable materials, such as bamboo, to help protect the environment. One way you can tell if a roll is eco-friendly is through Amazon’s “Climate Pledge-Friendly” designation.

Cloth

To reduce the number of paper products you use, consider cloth paper towels. A roll of cloth paper towels is composed of mini cloth towels that are snapped into a roll. When you need to clean a mess, unsnap a sheet from the roll, use it, and place it in the washing machine. Once the sheet is clean, resnap it to the roll to use again.

These are more sustainable than eco-friendly paper towels because they’re reusable, making them similar to hand towels or microfiber towels.

Quantity/Size

The dimensions of paper towel rolls and sheets will help you determine how many rolls you need.

Sheet Size

A roll of paper towels should have perforations for ripping the paper into sheets. Some paper towel manufacturers provide extra perforations to let you rip the sheet in halves or quarters for smaller messes.

Sheets per Roll

The paper towel manufacturer will print the number of sheets that are in a roll somewhere on the package. This number depends on whether the roll is a regular size or a mega/family size. There’s no standardization for what constitutes a regular versus a mega roll, but regular rolls usually have around 60 sheets, while mega rolls have around 100.

Square Feet per Roll

Another way to compare the size of rolls between manufacturers is by comparing how many square feet a roll has. This number can be found on the paper towel packaging by the number of sheets per roll.

Number of Rolls

Paper towels usually come in packs with several rolls. The size of the rolls and the frequency at which you use the paper towels will help you determine how large of a pack you need. For example, you may want to invest in a larger pack if you have pets or several young children and need to clean more messes around the home.

Design

If you keep a paper towel roll on the counter at all times and a roll’s appearance is important to you, look for paper towels with printed designs. Some paper towel manufacturers use water-based inks or perforations to create designs on paper towels.

Review Standards

Before testing, we researched a variety of top-rated paper towel products on Amazon and looked at Amazon-specific factors, such as Prime shipping eligibility, Amazon superlatives, the number of customer reviews a product had, and average customer ratings.

After creating a list of potential products, we took a closer look at each one and considered the quantity, thickness, and type of each paper towel roll. This allowed us to narrow down our options to four paper towel products, which we ordered and tested.

Testing Metrics

We tested each roll of paper towels on its absorbency, scrubbing ability, and streak prevention.

Absorbency

Absorbency is often tied to the thickness or ply of the paper towels. In general, paper towels come in one- or two-ply models. While single-ply paper towels tend to be more affordable, two-ply paper towels have more area to absorb liquid, allowing you to use fewer sheets to clean a mess. For example, a mess may require two sheets from a two-ply roll or four sheets from a one-ply roll.

Scrubbing Ability

The paper towels you choose should be able to remove stuck-on food and wipe dried liquids without ripping. A roll’s ability to do this is related to its wet strength, which refers to the quality and structure of the paper towel fibers.

Paper towels with a high wet strength can scrub a surface without ripping while wet. A textured paper towel surface also helps with scrubbing because its abrasiveness gives it more texture to scratch off dried food and liquids.

Steak Prevention

Your countertops, mirrors, and other surfaces shouldn’t show streaks after being wiped with a paper towel.

Testing Process

Below are the in-depth explanations of how we tested each of the metrics mentioned above.

Absorbency

We spilled a quarter cup of water on a kitchen countertop and used two sheets from the paper towel roll to clean the mess. For the Kleenex Multifold Paper Towels, we used one pre-cut sheet since that was equivalent to two sheets from a perforated roll. We then inspected the counter to determine if there was any water or moisture left behind. We performed the same test with a quarter cup of soda.

Scrubbing Ability

We spilled a teaspoon of honey on a kitchen counter and attempted to scrub it off using a damp paper towel. We analyzed the paper towel for rips and determined if it failed to clean the honey while scoring this metric.

Steak Prevention

To test this metric, our team sprayed Windex on a bathroom mirror and used a paper towel to wipe it clean. We inspected the mirror to see if the paper towel left any streaks behind.

Scoring

Each testing metric was worth five points, with a paper towel’s final score being an average of its three metric scores.

Absorbency

The paper towels received separate scores out of 5 points for water absorbency and soda absorbency. For the water absorbency score, the paper towel lost 1 point if we had to use an extra sheet to finish absorbing the water, and it lost 0.5 points if there was moisture left behind but not enough to use another sheet. If the counter was completely dry, the paper towel received all 5 points for water absorbency.

We used the same criteria to calculate the soda absorbency score. The final absorbency score was an average of those two scores.

Scrubbing Ability

If the paper towel ripped during our scrubbing test, it lost 1 point. If the paper towel didn’t rip but struggled to clean the honey, it lost 0.5 points. If the paper towel cleaned the honey without a problem, it received full points.

Steak Prevention

After wiping a bathroom mirror with each paper towel, we rated how streaky the mirror was on a scale of 1–5, with 1 being extremely streaky and 5 being streakless. We awarded full points to paper towels that left the mirror streakless, and we deducted points for paper towels that left streaks behind.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where should I store my paper towels?

After buying a pack of paper towels, store a few rolls in your pantry or under your kitchen sink. You may also want to store a few in your bathrooms and one on your kitchen counter in a paper towel holder for easy access.

Are paper towels bleached?

Yes. Paper towels are made of pulp, which is naturally brown. They’re bleached to give them their white color.

Can I purchase scented paper towels?

Yes. A few paper towel manufacturers make scented paper towels, but these paper towels cost more than unscented paper towels and may affect people who have allergies or are sensitive to smells.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.