You may not have given too much thought to the differences between kinds of paper towels. But if you’ve ever tried to clean up a big spill with a low-quality paper towel, you know they’re not all created equal. A variety of factors besides absorbency make certain types of paper towels stand out. Before you pick up your next pack, take a moment to determine the best paper towels for your home or office.
Paper towel types and features
The best paper towels vary depending on your needs, which means it’s important to understand the options to make a smart selection. First, let’s look at the types of paper towels on the market.
Lint-free vs. traditional paper towels
Garages and other automotive industry settings often use paper towels touting they’re lint-free. Lint-free paper towels work well for cleaning mirrors, windshields, and other glass surfaces without streaking or leaving behind lint. Although they’re disposable, they tend to be heavy-duty and can stand up to rough and prolonged use in projects such as painting or staining.
Commercial vs. kitchen roll paper towels
If you’re shopping for paper towels to stock a commercial dispenser, choose commercial paper towels. Kitchen paper towels, on the other hand, are appropriate for any standard paper towel holder that you’d have in your kitchen or office break room.
C-fold vs. multifold paper towels
The paper towel dispensers found in the bathrooms of many businesses and organizations hold C-fold or multifold towels. In many cases, either type of towel works in these dispensers. Both C-fold and multifold paper towels are stacked. While a multifold paper towel has a “Z” type of fold, allowing the towels to interlock with one another, C-fold paper towels aren’t interlocked and rest on top of one another.
Once you’re clear on the type of paper towel you need, consider features to prioritize.
Many paper towel rolls have additional perforations to make it easy to tear a half or quarter of a traditional paper towel, which means each roll could last considerably longer in situations where people often need a napkin or small square.
When soaking up spills is of utmost importance, a paper towel with impressive absorbency is a must. Generally, 2-ply options outperform single ply.
Paper towels highly rated for durability work great for tasks such as scrubbing stains and drying wet produce.
While most paper towels are for single use, you can wash and reuse some types multiple times before you dispose them.
There are a few ways to approach the eco-friendliness of a paper towel. Those made with a high post-consumer content of recycled fibers are an environmentally friendly choice, but you should also consider whether the product contributes to deforestation. Some companies responsibly harvest and replant trees. Products that allow you to use smaller squares (thereby decreasing your overall paper consumption) may also be eco-friendly options, especially if they tick other boxes.
Many products are available at different price points. But figuring out which option is the best value requires more than a glance at the price tag. Highly absorbent or reusable paper towels are more durable, which may allow you to go through rolls more slowly, reducing how much you spend over time. And not all rolls are the same size, so the price per roll for one package may not be comparable to the price per roll of another.
Smart ways to use paper towels
Think paper towels are just for soaking up spills and drying your hands? Think again! Try these innovative ways to use paper towels in your home or the office.
- Wrap food in wet paper towels to steam cook in the break-room microwave.
- Wrap stale bagels or baked goods in wet paper towels to revive them in the microwave. You may still want to toast it afterward, but this method will bring some life back to the bread or bagel.
- Keep veggies fresh. Add a damp paper towel to your salad or cut veggies to keep them crisp until lunch. Dry paper towels can be used in your crisper or a food storage container with greens to keep them from getting soggy.
- Wrap your sandwich in a paper towel (which you can also use as a napkin), so you can reuse your sandwich bags.
- Spray air freshener on a paper towel and attach it to an office vent to distribute the smell.
- Put a paper towel under your laptop or keyboard to keep the bottom clean and stable.
- Use paper towels to open doors without touching the doorknob.
- Paper towels are great for quickly wiping down your desk at work.
- Paper towels are handy when it comes to pans. You can use a dry paper towel to clean a cast-iron pan or to disperse a light layer of cooking oil in a pan.
- Use a damp paper towel under a cutting board to prevent it from slipping.
- Secure a paper towel to oil bottles with a rubber band to catch drips.
When not to use paper towels
As handy and functional as paper towels are, you may want to avoid using them in a few instances. Their rough texture and tendency to leave behind lint makes paper towels a poor choice for dusting furniture or cleaning delicate surfaces such as TV screens or eyeglasses. A soft microfiber cloth is a better option.
Paper towels also leave lint behind when cleaning windows and mirrors, making lint-free cloths and squeegees a superior pick. While it’s fine to use paper towels to clean up messes in the bathroom, don’t flush them down the toilet. They don’t disintegrate as quickly as toilet paper and can cause plumbing issues.
Next time you’re shopping for home or office supplies, spend a few minutes considering what you need in a paper towel. Chances are, you’ll find an option that suits your needs.