The Best Paper Towels, According to Cleaning Experts (2024)

The paper towel brands that will soak up, clean up, and scrub away any mess.

By Emma Seymour
The Best Paper Towels, According to Cleaning Experts (1)

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Whether cleaning up messes or faces, you want a paper towel that is strong, absorbent, and soft to the touch. The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles, Paper & Plastics Lab put paper towel brands to the test to find the overall best buys. We tested absorption by evaluating how much liquid each sheet absorbs and how quickly. We then measured the strength of each paper towel when wet, because no one wants a paper towel that crumbles under pressure. Lastly, since a huge consumer complaint is that some brands leave behind bits of paper, we evaluated shedding.

Then, we sent paper towels home with consumer testers who rated how soft each paper towel was, and whether they liked using them. On top of in lab tests, we also sifted through hundreds of reputable reviews of popular paper towel brands to find the best new styles on the market.

What makes a good paper towel?

Paper towels are made up of ground-up plant material called cellulose, which can include wood, cotton, and other plants. The molecules of cellulose are actually sugar – but not like the sugar we eat – which attracts water molecules. Therefore, paper towels are great at picking up liquid spills. Fun fact: a paper towel's design is actually made of small crevices that help the paper towel have a better grip.

Keep in mind when shopping that each brand has a different number of sheets per roll, and that the size of a full sheet differs brand by brand, so comparing price can be tricky. While smaller sheet sizes can make it easier to use less, you are getting less product for the price. No matter the mess, these paper towels are ready. Shop the best paper towels you can buy:

1

Best Overall Paper Towels

Bounty Select-A-Size Paper Towels

The Best Paper Towels, According to Cleaning Experts (2)

Bounty paper towels are top performers and GH lab pros #1 choice for their own homes. Thesepaper towels are able to absorb liquid quickly without breaking, and they leave no lint in their path, keeping your counter tops perfectly clean. We love that they are fairly thick with a plush, soft hand-feel too. The handy select-a-size feature lets you tear off only as much as you need for any size mess.

Price per 100 sheets: $1.51
Sheets per roll
: 138 full sheets
Full sheet size
: 11" x 5.9"

2

Best Value Paper Towels

Presto! Flex-a-Size Paper Towels

The Best Paper Towels, According to Cleaning Experts (3)

The Best Paper Towels, According to Cleaning Experts (4)

Amazon brand Presto! paper towels aretop sellers on Amazon with over 3,500 5-star reviews. Reviewers are especially impressed with how large the rolls are, giving you more absorbent paper towels for the price. These 2 ply paper towels are available in orders of6, 12, or 24 rolls, so you always have what you need on hand. You can tear off in full- or half-sheets, depending on your preference.

Price per 100 sheets: $1.05
Sheets per roll:140 full sheets
Full sheet size: 11" x 6"

3

Best "Use Less" Paper Towels

Brawny Tear-A-Square Paper Towels

The Best Paper Towels, According to Cleaning Experts (5)

We are all guilty of accidentally grabbing more paper towels than we really needed for the job. These paper towels by Brawny make it easy to grab either a full, half or even justa quarter sheet, so you inevitably use less. In our lab tests, Brawny paper towels were top performers with good wet strength, total absorbency, and absorbency speed, and although these towels look pricey at first glance, keep in mindthe full sheet size is larger than most brands.

Price per 100 sheets: $2.09
Sheets per roll:64 full sheets (or 256 quarter sheets)
Full sheet size: 11" x 11" (quarter sheet: 5.5" x 5.5")

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4

Most Absorbent Paper Towels

Viva Signature Cloth Choose-A-Sheet Paper Towels

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In our absorbency tests, Viva proved to be #1. These cloth-like paper towels were able toabsorb the mostliquid out of every brand tested,while also picking up spills quickly. Viva paper towels were also the softest paper towels, according to our consumer testers. They did not break easily and were one of the thickest options. Reviewers note that these paper towels have fewer sheets per roll than other brands.

Price per 100 sheets: $1.57 (price for TaskSize sheets)
Sheets per roll: 58 full sheets (or 143 TaskSize sheets)
Full sheet size: 11" x 5.9"

5

Best No-Shed Paper Towels

Kirkland Signature Create-a-Size Paper Towels

The Best Paper Towels, According to Cleaning Experts (7)

Some paper towelsleave behind a little trail of lint in its path. To avoid creating a new mess after cleaning one up, use a non-linting paper towel such as Kirkland Signature paper towels. In our lab tests, these left behind no lint while also absorbing liquid very quickly. We found these paper towels to be fairly thick too.

Price per 100 sheets: $1.04 (note that there are additional costs for shipping and Costco membership)
Sheets per roll: 160full sheets
Full sheet size: 11" x 7"

6

Best "Green" Paper Towels

Seventh Generation Seventh Generation 100% Recycled Paper Towels

The Best Paper Towels, According to Cleaning Experts (8)

If you are trying to live more sustainability, try these Seventh Generation paper towels that feature 100% recycled paper without using bleach whitening. Seventh Generation paper towels were top performers out of all the paper towels with recycled content: They were able to pick up liquid quickly without leaving behind any lint behind.

Price per 100 sheets: $1.70
Sheets per roll:140 full sheets
Full sheet size: 11" x 5.4"

The Best Paper Towels, According to Cleaning Experts (9)

Emma Seymour

Textiles, Paper & Apparel Lab Senior Analyst

Emma Seymour (she/her) is a senior product analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute's Textiles, Paper and Apparel Lab, where she has led testing for luggage, pillows, towels, tampons and more since 2018. She graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor of science in fiber science and apparel design and a minor in gerontology, completing research in the Body Scanner Lab on optimizing activewear for athletic performance.

The Best Paper Towels,  According to Cleaning Experts (2024)

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