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Best Paper Towels of 2021

Updated
The most absorbent paper towels you’ll find. 

With such a wide range of paper towels on the market, it can be disheartening to find that few can hold water — literally.

We’ve spent hours researching the most absorbent and eco-friendly options available. Whether you use paper towels in the kitchen or bathroom, these seven best paper towels are the most effective you’ll find.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features
Product Image of the Brawny Tear-A-Square Paper Towels, 16 Double Rolls = 32 Regular Rolls, 3 Sheet Size Options, Quarter Size Sheets
Best Budget Paper Towels
Brawny Tear-A-Square Paper Towels
  • Budget-friendly
  • Three sheet size
  • Strong & durable
Product Image of the Viva Signature Cloth Paper Towels, Task Size - 12 Family Rolls (2 Packs of 6 Rolls) = 30 Regular Rolls (143 Sheets Per Roll)
Softest Paper Towels
Viva Signature Cloth Paper Towels
  • Soft but durable
  • Cloth texture
  • Sourced sustainably
Product Image of the Amazon Brand - Presto! Flex-a-Size Paper Towels, Huge Roll, 12 Count = 30 Regular Rolls
Best With Flexible Sizing
Presto! Flex-a-Size Paper Towels
  • High-absorbent
  • Small 10.4-inch sheets
  • Comes in 12 huge rolls
Product Image of the 2 Bamboo Reusable Paper Towels Washable Roll (40 Sheets) Zero Waste Unpaper Towel Eco Friendly Products Sustainable Gifts - Kitchen Cleaning Rolls Alternative Paper Towels Bulk Recycled Napkins Cloth
Best Eco-Friendly Paper Towels
EcoLifestyle Bamboo Paper Towels
  • Made from sustainable materials
  • Can be washed up to 100 times
  • Heavy-duty towels
Product Image of the Bounty Select-a-Size 2 x More Absorbent Paper Towels,11 x 5.9-Inches PLY SHEETS,White (PACK OF 2)
Best Absorbent Paper Towels
Bounty Select-a-Size Paper Towels
  • Trap & lock technology
  • Flexible sizing
  • Comes as large towels
Product Image of the Electy Reusable Paper Towels – 20 Bamboo Paper Towels with 2 Wash and Storage Bags, 6 Month Supply, Zero Waste! Heavy Duty - Eco Friendly Paper Towels - Unpaper Towels - Paperless Paper Towels
Best Reusable Paper Towels
Electy Reusable Bamboo Towels
  • Includes 2 mesh washing bags
  • Made from bamboo
  • Organic & biodegradable
Product Image of the 365 By WFM, Paper Towels 100% Recycled Jumbo Roll 135 Sheet, 3 Count
Best Recycled Paper Towels
365 Whole Food Market Towels
  • Made without fragrances or dyes
  • 100 percent recycled paper
  • Environmentally-safe

How to Choose the Best Paper Towels

You may be used to going to the store and grabbing the same old paper towels every time. But what if you want the most from your paper towels? We’ll show you the exact criteria to consider before buying to make sure you get the paper towels of your dreams.

Paper Type

The paper type is something you should consider. While it’s not always specified, you do get a variety of options including bamboo and recycled paper. You should also check how many layers (ply) the paper towels have to be aware of the absorbency qualities.

Another thing that’s worth checking is how the paper is whitened. If you’re trying to avoid harsh chemicals, try and find something that’s whitened without chlorine bleach.

Absorbency

How absorbent are the paper towels? The manufacturer should state how well it is at absorbing, but generally the thicker the paper towel, the better it is. You definitely should be looking at at least 2-ply or more.

Softness

Softness is important to many customers, especially if you’ll be using the towels to dry your hands. Check what customers and manufacturers are saying about the softness of the paper towels.

Eco-Friendliness

Eco-friendliness is very important to many customers, especially if you’re currently skeptical about paper towels. There are many ways to ensure that you’re getting eco-friendly paper towels.

Firstly, consider if the paper towels are made from recycled paper and if they, too, are recyclable.

Secondly, you can also find reusable paper towels. These are machine washable up to dozens, if not hundreds, of times. So this will definitely cut down on your paper waste.

Value for Money

Sometimes the cheapest paper towels don’t actually end up being the most cost-effective. You should always look at the cost per sheet to make sure you’re getting good value for money. Also, check how many sheets come with the paper towel roll. You don’t want something that you’re going to use up in a couple of days!

Budget

You’ll find paper towels at a variety of prices, so choose a budget and stick to it. If you really want the most for your money, you may want to consider buying in bulk.

Preferences

Don’t neglect your personal preferences. You may want something that has a unique design on it to enhance your kitchen’s aesthetics. Perhaps you want something with flexible sizing, so you can rip a certain amount of paper off for each job. Whatever your preferences are, consider them, too, before buying.


The Best Paper Towels of 2021

Here are the best paper towels on the market:

1. Brawny Tear-A-Square Paper Towels

Best Budget Paper Towels

If you go through paper towels very quickly, you probably want something budget-friendly. That way, your wallet can keep up with the vast amount of sheets you use.

Well, the Brawny Tear-A-Square paper towels are very budget-friendly. Their cost per sheet is far less than what other competitors offer.

These paper towels are 2-ply premium white paper towels. Each roll comes with 256 quarter sheets, so it should last a long time before you need to switch to a new roll. You can even use the smaller sheet option for smaller tasks, which allows your roll to last even longer.

Something To Note

This is budget-friendly when you look at the cost per sheet, but it is a bigger upfront cost initially.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly, will save you money.
  • Three sheet size options.
  • Strong, absorbent, and durable 2-ply paper.

Cons

  • Too scratchy to be used as napkins.
  • The perforations to make a quarter sheet are hard to see and difficult to tear.

Additional Specs

Number of sheets Up to 256 sheets per roll (quarter sheets)
Absorbency Very absorbent
Paper type 2-ply premium paper
Eco-friendly No
Other features You can make full sheets, half sheets or quarter sheets

2. Viva Signature Cloth TaskSize Paper Towels

Softest Paper Towels

Of course, you’ll be using paper towels to clean up spills, do some dusting and wipe down counters. But you’ll also likely use them as napkins, to wipe your little one’s face or to dry your hands after washing dishes. So you probably want something nice and soft, like the Viva Signature Cloth TaskSize paper towels.

These are called “Signature Cloth” because they have a super soft cloth-like texture. Not only is this nice and gentle on sensitive skin, but it also makes it more durable and effective for cleaning up messes.

The cloth texture is tough on messes and super durable. In fact, you can rinse, wring and reuse these a second time. We think they’re a little bit more eco-conscious than other standard paper-type towels.

Pros

  • Double the durability than leading brands.
  • Soft, even on sensitive skin and faces.
  • Great for deep cleaning and scrubbing.
  • Sourced from responsibly managed forests.

Cons

  • They are hard to tear off the roll; may require two hands.
  • Pricey.

Additional Specs

Number of sheets 1716
Absorbency Two absorbent layers
Paper type Responsibly sourced paper that can be reused one more time
Eco-friendly Somewhat
Other features They can be rinsed and reused, soft on skin

3. Presto! Flex-a-Size Paper Towels

Best Paper Towels With Flexible Sizing

Are you looking for something with flexible sizing? The Presto! Flex-a-Size paper towels are right up your street. The sheets are six inches wide, compared to the standard 10.4 inches. This allows you to be more precise with exactly how much you want to use at a time. Overall, this will make the roll last a whole lot longer since you’re not wasting paper towels.

Besides that, the sheets are 75 percent more absorbent than other leading brands. So you can be confident that these towels will absorb all kinds of heavy messes.

This particular pack comes with 12 huge rolls which is a total of 1896 sheets. So you won’t need to go to the store for more for a long time!

Pros

  • 75 percent more absorbent.
  • Smaller sheets so you can use the precise amount.
  • The whole roll lasts 2.5 times longer than standard sizing.

Cons

  • They are quite expensive.
  • Some customers found the sheets to be a little thin.

Additional Specs

Number of sheets 1896
Absorbency 75 percent more absorbent than the leading 1-ply brand
Paper type 2-ply made with pulp from sustainably managed forest
Eco-friendly Somewhat
Other features Smaller sheet sizes for flexible use

4. EcoLifestyle Bamboo Reusable Paper Towels

Best Eco-Friendly Paper Towels

Go green with the EcoLifestyle bamboo reusable paper towels. If you’re not a fan of the idea of using a paper towel once and tossing it in the trash, then these are for you.

Firstly, they are made from 100 percent organic bamboo, so already they are good for the environment. But also, one roll lasts for six months. Yes, six whole months! How does this work? Well, you can rewash the 40 sheets in cold water — by hand — up to 100 times! Not only does this cut down on paper waste, but it also saves you money over time.

We also love that these are multi-purpose paper towels that you can use wet or dry. They’re designed to work well with spills, dusting, or cleaning a variety of surfaces. This includes electronics, windows, and your floors. Lastly, you can also use them as napkins.

Pros

  • Made from sustainable materials.
  • Can be washed up to 100 times.
  • They are heavy-duty and absorbent.
  • They have versatile uses.

Cons

  • They may leave lint behind.
  • Because they can’t be washed in hot water, they are difficult to disinfect.

Additional Specs

Number of sheets 40
Absorbency Very absorbent
Paper type Reusable organic bamboo
Eco-friendly Yes
Other features Can be rewashed up to 100 times

5. Bounty Select-a-Size Absorbent Paper Towels

Best Absorbent Paper Towels

No one wants to use paper towels that don’t actually absorb well. When you’re cleaning up your spilled wine, or a glass of your child’s milk, you want to get rid of the mess as quickly as possible. That’s why you need super absorbent sheets, like those from Bounty.

These paper towels are twice as absorbent as other leading brands. So now a small sheet acts like a big sheet, meaning you can use less paper waste but clean up more mess.

These sheets use a unique trap and lock technology to absorb the messes and lock them. This way, you don’t spread them around your surface.

Pros

  • Extra absorbent with trap and lock technology.
  • Flexible sizing, so you can rip off exactly how much you want to use.
  • It lasts 50 percent longer than standard paper towels.

Cons

  • Overpriced.

Additional Specs

Number of sheets 262
Absorbency 2x more absorbent than other leading brands
Paper type 2-ply with trap and lock technology
Eco-friendly No
Other features Flexible sizing

6. Electy Reusable Bamboo Paper Towels

Best Reusable Paper Towels

Electy makes it super easy to use their reusable bamboo paper towels. They come with a handy mesh bag so you can put them all together in the wash and they won’t get lost, stretched out or tangled up in other items.

The paper towels themselves are sustainably made from bamboo, a renewable source. They are organic, eco-friendly, and biodegradable. So even after the 70 washes they can handle, you can rest assured knowing that they will break down organically after you discard them.

One roll from Electy can last up to six months, saving you trips to the store and money over time.

We also love that they are soft and gentle. So, if you’re using them as napkins, they will be kind on even the most sensitive skin.

Pros

  • They are strong and durable.
  • They are versatile; you can use them in any room of the house.
  • Two mesh washing bags are included.
  • You can reuse them up to 70 times, which is around six months.

Cons

  • They’re not as absorbent as other brands.
  • They may leave behind dust or lint.

Additional Specs

Number of sheets 20
Absorbency Not as absorbent as other brands
Paper type Organic bamboo that can be reused
Eco-friendly Yes
Other features They can be washed 70 times, comes with mesh washing bag

7. 365 Whole Food Market Recycled Paper Towels

Best Recycled Paper Towels

If you don’t want the hassle of rewashing reusable paper towels, but still want to be eco-conscious, then we recommend going for recyclable paper towels. Particularly, we recommend the 365 Whole Food Market option.

These paper towels are made from 100 percent recycled paper, 80 percent of which is from post-consumer recycled paper. Overall, this saves trees since it uses pre-existing materials rather than new materials.

Another eco-friendly aspect of these towels is that they are whitened without chlorine. Instead, they use a safe, environmentally progressive whitening process. This cuts down on harsh chemicals in your home.

Pros

  • Made without fragrances or dyes.
  • 100 percent recycled paper.
  • 2-ply paper.

Cons

  • They’re not very absorbent.
  • They’re not soft.

Additional Specs

Number of sheets 405
Absorbency Not very absorbent
Paper type 100 percent recycled 2-ply paper
Eco-friendly Yes
Other features Made without fragrances or dyes

Paper Towel Comparison Chart

Product Best No. of sheets Absorbency Ply Rating Eco-friendly
Brawny Tear-A-Square Paper Towels Budget Pick 256 High 2-Ply No
Viva Signature Cloth Paper Towels Soft 1716 High 1-Ply Yes
Presto! Flex-a-Size Paper Towels Flexible Sizing 1896 High 2-Ply Yes
EcoLifestyle Bamboo Paper Towels Eco-Friendly 40 High N/A Yes
Bounty Select-a-Size Paper Towels Absorbent 262 High 2-Ply No
Electy Reusable Bamboo Paper Towels Reusable 20 Low N/A Yes
365 Whole Food Market Paper Towels Recycled 405 Low 2-Ply Yes

What Is a Good Alternative to Paper Towels?

Despite some of our recommendations being eco-friendly, you may still be looking for an alternative to paper towels. In our home, we actually never use paper towels, even though we understand the benefits. We’ll share a few amazing alternatives to paper towels for different scenarios.

  • Cleaning surfaces: For cleaning all your surfaces, we recommend microfiber cloths. You can use these with a cleaning spray or just water, depending on the mess at hand, and they will clean your mess right up. They are soft and gentle on surfaces and can be rewashed hundreds, if not thousands, of times before they wear down.
  • Drying dishes: For drying dishes, why not invest in a good dish towel? These are an important staple in our house. They do a much better job at drying dishes than paper towels do.
  • Drying your hands: This is another great place to use dish towels. They absorb very quickly and are nice and gentle on your hands.
  • Napkins: While using paper towels as napkins is convenient, you may be looking for an alternative. We recommend cotton napkins which you can wash and reuse many times.
  • Wrapping up food: Giving a neighbor some cookies? You may reach for paper towels but why not try reusable beeswax wrap. They can return it to you, you can wash it, and reuse it again!
  • Draining fried foods: You may be used to draining or patting down fried foods, or other ingredients, with a paper towel. Instead, put a wire baking rack over a baking sheet and let the food naturally drain itself. This prevents the food from going soggy or from bits of the paper towel sticking to the food.

Wipe Up Messes

With our seven best paper towel recommendations, you can wipe up spills, messes, and other dirt in no time. These are all great options that are suitable for a huge variety of preferences.

Whether you want something reusable, eco-friendly, super absorbent or extra soft, we have lots of recommendations.

When shopping, don’t forget to consider important details. This includes the number of sheets, value for money, the paper type, the eco-friendliness, and any other features of the paper towels.

Headshot of Beth McCallum

About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!

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