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Best Paper Towels

Updated October 2022
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Best of the Best
Brawny Tear-A-Square Paper Towels, 12 Rolls
Tear-A-Square Paper Towels, 12 Rolls
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Strong and Durable
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The ability to tear these sheets into small squares via the perforation makes it an impressive choice for families to use on a day-to-day basis.


These rolls allow users to tear sheets into quarters, helping to conserve paper when only a small square of paper towel is needed. This allows these towels to easily double as napkins. Very absorbent and durable.


It can be tough to tear a square without tearing off a full half sheet sometimes.

Best Bang for the Buck
Bounty Quick-Size Paper Towels, 12 Family Rolls
Quick-Size Paper Towels, 12 Family Rolls
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Trusted Brand
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Users love the ability to tear off smaller sheets that are strong, absorbent, and leave behind less lint, according to our cleaning expert.


It’s nice to have the option to tear away a smaller square of paper towel with these rolls, making this a convenient and environmentally friendly pick. Sheets are thick and strong as well as very absorbent. Comes in pack of 12.


Some buyers don't love the new quick size feature.

Presto! Flex-a-Size Paper Towels, 12 Count
Flex-a-Size Paper Towels, 12 Count
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Affordable Quality
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Our cleaning expert approves these paper towels that come at a low price point and perform well for wiping up messes and drying hands.


Bargain-priced paper towels that are absorbent and long-lasting. These have the option to tear off a half a sheet, allowing users to conserve paper towel when it comes to small spills or clean ups.


These sheets may leave a bit of lint behind when wiping down glass.

Sparkle Paper Towels
Paper Towels
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Simple Yet Solid
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Trusted brand that is known for its low-cost, no-nonsense paper towels that get the job done.


Users who swear by Sparkle like that these economical paper towels simply clean up messes. The 18-pack lasts about three months on average if using one and a half rolls per week.


Sheets can be thinner and smaller than expected.

Amazon Basics 2 Ply Paper Towels (12 value rolls)
Amazon Basics
2 Ply Paper Towels (12 value rolls)
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Bargain Pick
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Our cleaning expert likes that this package of 12 totals 1800 sheets of flex-sized paper towels.


Double-ply construction for strength. Reduced lint for cleaner results even on glass and mirrors. Flexible sizing offers different combinations of 11 x 6-inch sheets as needed. Each roll offers 150 sheets each.


Some buyers feel the quality could be better.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best paper towels

Even though paper towels are easy to find and plentiful on shelves, you probably have a preference in terms of the style and texture you use. Maybe you like thick, fancy paper towels and don’t mind spending a little extra on the luxury. Maybe you like plain value rolls that you can use in bulk to clean up household messes.

If you have storage space, buying paper towels online is a no-brainer. You don’t have to wrestle with large packages from store to home, and you'll likely appreciate the stocking-up deals on bulk purchases. However, there are some key points to consider, as not all paper towels are created equally. Roll size, sheet size, thickness, softness, and wet strengths all vary.

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In the early 1900s, a schoolteacher in Philadelphia handed out small squares of soft notebook paper instead of cloth towels to stop the spread of flu in her classroom. Scott Paper Company took the teacher’s idea and created the first paper towel, named Sani-Towels, and marketed its hygienic qualities.

Key considerations


Absorbency is likely the most important consideration when choosing paper towels. A paper towel absorbs with its cellulose fibers and holds moisture there through an internal bonding process. You can do all the tests to see which brand absorbs more or less, but the bottom line is that premium plush double-ply products absorb more in weight than economical single-ply paper towels. A full sheet of double-ply paper towel can hold up to 3/4 of a cup of liquid.

Wet strength

The strength of a paper towel comes from the quality of its fiber and resins. Consider whether you want to reuse paper towels or toss them after one use. To rinse and reuse, a paper towel needs superior wet strength.

A paper towel with superior wet strength will hold up if you scrub a slightly abrasive surface a couple of hundred times while the towel is wet. If it breaks apart after a few dozen passes, however, it has poor wet strength.

expert tip
When cleaning glass with paper towels wiping in a circular motion is important for best results. 
BestReviews Cleaning Expert


A paper towel with multiple layers has more space to absorb more water. A single-ply paper towel is a less expensive utilitarian product that gets the job done, but it’s not as strong when wet. A two-ply (double-ply) towel is not always as economical, but it gets the job done and is twice as strong as cheaper construction. In this type of paper towel, a type of water-based adhesive holds the two layers together.


A paper towel with larger pockets to hold water will also feel softer in your hand. If you don’t like the way a paper towel feels in your hand — for example, if it feels too abrasive to hold — chances are you probably won’t use it. If you love the way a plush paper towel feels in your hand, you’re likely to jump up and grab the roll for clean-ups.

If you truly don’t care one way or another how your paper towels feel in your hand, you might as well pick the more economical choice. They may feel harder and have fewer pockets, but they’ll save you money.

Sheets per roll

Paper towel rolls with full-size sheets may come with extra perforations so you can rip them into half or quarter sheets. Some manufacturers note how many half-size or quarter-size sheets you’ll find on a roll. You’ll see that information in tiny print on the bottom of the package.

Though there’s no standard rule, a regular roll of paper towels generally has about 60 sheets, whereas a mega roll has about 100 sheets. Similarly, if you were to compare the diameter of a standard roll of an economical brand to a standard roll from a premium brand, the former would probably look smaller.

Square feet per roll

Another way to compare brands is to look at the square feet of paper towels per roll. You should be able to find that information in the same place that you find the number of sheets per roll.

Sheet size

Full paper towel sheets are typically 11” x 11” squares. A half-sheet is usually 11” x 6”, and a quarter-sheet is half of that.

"Put your paper towels to good use by lining your vegetable crispers with them. The towels will absorb the moisture that causes produce to rot."


Customized size sheets

Being able to tear off a small piece of paper towel for a little mess means less waste and more convenience. However, this often comes at a higher cost per roll. For many consumers, it comes down to how easy it is to tear the paper towel at the perforation.


Quilted paper towels are designed to hold more moisture. The quilted shapes form air pockets that sop up and hold water.


Water-based printing inks create the decorative and seasonal patterns and colors of paper towels.

Expert tip
To save money and reduce waste, avoid using more paper towels than what you need to clean your mess.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Mega roll

There is no standard or regulated measurement of a “mega” roll of paper towels. Some manufacturers say their mega roll is equal to 1.5 standard rolls, while others say their mega rolls are equal to two standard rolls. To make things even more confusing, one top brand also has a package of two “family rolls,” which are equal to five regular rolls.


An instant coupon from the manufacturer increases your savings. A paper towel brand that participates in a subscribe-and-save program can also help save you money over time.

Paper towel prices

Regardless of what brand or type of paper towels you prefer, you’ll always get a better deal buying in bulk rather than buying single rolls. You may see calculated pricing that tells you how much you pay per 100 sheets on a roll. For example, you may find items listed as $1.13/100 sheets, $1.37/100 sheets, and $1.77/100 sheets. One way to handle pricing is to compare the cost of 100 sheets of your favorite brand’s mega roll to other mega rolls.


For $3 to $12, you can buy single rolls of paper towels from just about any brand. Granted, a $9 single roll of paper towels is not considered cheap by any means, but if you’re buying a single roll of reusable bamboo paper towels, that adds value to your purchase.

In this range, you can also find lower-quality packs of three rolls that may not absorb or tear well. They may only come in full-size sheets with no select-a-size feature. You may also find packs of 100% recycled paper towels in this price range; these may not be as absorbent as higher-priced paper towels.


In the $12 to $22 range, you’ll find bulk deals on notable brand names in packages of six to eight rolls, most of which are select-a-size rolls. You’ll also find larger bulk packs of no-name paper towels.

Expert tip
Always store your paper towels in a dry, climate-controlled area. A soggy roll of paper towels will do you little good.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert


For over $22, you can find your best bulk deals. For example, you will find 12+ packages of select-a-size sheets in giant, extra-large, and mega sizes. Premium brands that offer the greatest absorbency can also be found here.


  • If you routinely use paper towels to dry and lift washed fruit, opt for double-ply rolls. Single-ply sheets will have a tough time holding up under the pressure of half a pound of grapes, for example.

  • The way a paper towel feels largely has to do with its finish. Conditioners are often added to the process to improve softness or strength. Manufacturers of paper towels keep these proprietary formulas secret.

  • Paper towels made of recycled fibers may absorb less than towels made from virgin fibers. The process of recycling fibers shortens them, which affects the way they’re able to absorb liquids. There are brands that offer a combination of recycled and virgin fibers.
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Paper towels are safe to use in the microwave. When you’re microwaving a greasy item, a paper towel on top loosely covering the food helps contain the grease. However, you should never put paper towels in a regular oven, as they could catch fire.


Q. Why do some brands of paper towels leave lint behind when wiping down glass?

A. Some brands leave a cloud of lint when you tear off a sheet from the roll, or they leave behind a bit of lint, which is actually just tiny loose fibers. Different brands of paper towels leave varying amounts of lint. If you can’t tolerate any lint, opt for microfiber cloths instead.

Q. What does it mean if paper towels are septic-safe or compostable?

A. Paper towels should never be flushed down a toilet because they’re not designed to disintegrate like toilet paper when put in a septic system. Although paper towels are considered compostable (recyclable), keep them out of the compost if they are contaminated with food or other spills you’ve wiped up.

Q. What does it mean if paper towels are bleached?

A. Bleaching agents are routinely used in tissue and paper towel manufacturing to keep them bright white. Paper towels are made from pulp, which is brown in its natural state. The American Forest & Paper Association says that modern bleaching processes use safe, non-toxic technology that’s recognized and accepted by both U.S. and international commissions, including the EPA. However, if you prefer unbleached paper towels, you have a choice.

Q. Is there such a thing as scented paper towels?

A. Scent-infused paper towels tend to appear on the market every so often, but they don’t stay for very long. Adding scent (or in some cases, dishwashing detergent) to an item like paper towels may bump up the cost too much. Furthermore, scents could aggravate consumers who may be sensitive to fragrant products. Not only that, can you imagine how a scented paper towel may react to an odorous spill? When two odors collide, sometimes it doesn’t smell pretty.