The 10 Best Paper Towels of 2023

Our best overall pick is Brawny Tear-A-Square

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Paper Towels to Add to Your Home's List of Essentials

The Spruce / Sabrina Jiang

Paper towels are essential items for most households. Luckily for us, they are now designed to be more eco-friendly than ever before. Some are compostable or washable, while others are perforated, so you only tear off what you need. In fact, you might be able to reuse a single-use paper towel in certain circumstances. According to Darby Hoover, a sustainability expert with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “If you’ve only used a paper towel to absorb water, you may be able to dry it and reuse it." So, if you've been hesitant to buy them, despite their endless uses, rest assured you can still find the best paper towels and use them more sustainably and confidently.

With so many styles available, we wanted to take a closer look at the market to narrow down choices for different purposes. We conducted hours of research on paper towels, evaluating each brand on value, number of sheets per roll, and ply count for absorbency. For certain categories, we also factored in sustainability and aesthetics, too. Our top pick is the Brawny Tear-A-Square Paper Towel because it's absorbent, affordable, and comes in multiple sizes. Ahead, find the best paper towels for your home.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Brawny Tear-A-Square Paper Towels

 Brawny Paper Towels, 12 Count Rolls

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Three sheet size options

  • Excellent absorbency

  • Ideal for spills of any size

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • More expensive than competitors

Our top pick for best paper towels is the Brawny Tear-A-Square Paper Towels. Not only are these paper towels one of the most affordable picks on the market, but they also have a unique feature that sets them apart from the rest on this list. They are the only paper towels with horizontal perforations as well as vertical ones, allowing you to tear off a full, half, or even a quarter of a sheet, depending on the size of the mess. Offering exceptional strength and absorbency, these paper towels are great at picking up liquid spills of all kinds, from a small coffee overflow to a dropped dish of spaghetti. 

These paper towels aren’t limited to everyday cleanups, either, which adds to their versatility. The 5.5-inch square shape can be used as a coaster, and the half sheet works great as a napkin. They have a soft and cloth-like texture, which feels pleasant on the skin. With more than double the number of sheets per roll compared to other brands, these paper towels are an excellent value.

Brawny Tear-A-Square Paper Towels are pricier than some similar styles, but we like that they're widely available, so you can order ahead from your retailer of choice or take a look in the aisle of your favorite IRL store.

Price at time of publish: $53 for 12 rolls

Amount: 128 sheets per roll | Material: Paper | Dimensions: 11 x 11 inches (full sheet size) | Color: White 

Best Budget

Sparkle Paper Towels

Sparkle Paper Towels

Source: Sparkle

What We Like
  • Strong and absorbent

  • Perforations for full- and half-size sheets

  • Available in various prints

What We Don't Like
  • Not as absorbent as other options

  • Less sheets per roll

With Sparkle Paper Towels, you don’t have to sacrifice effectiveness for an affordable clean. Thanks to pocketed crevices within the design, these two-ply paper towels are strong and absorbent. The pick-a-size rolls let you tear off a full or half sheet, depending on your cleaning needs. They also come in a plus-size version; each sheet is over 1 inch wider than regular sheets. This pack has classic white paper towels, but if you want to add some pizzazz to your cleaning routine, Sparkle towels are available in more colorful prints, too.

These paper towels might not be quite as absorbent as some of the name-brand options, but that’s to be expected considering the price difference. When compared to other brands, Sparkle doesn’t give you as many sheets per roll. However, the half-size sheets make it easier to use less (as long as access is limited for any young kids that may unroll freely).

Price at time of publish: $7 for six rolls

Amount: 116 sheets per roll | Material: Paper | Dimensions: 11 x 6 inches (half sheet size) | Color: White 

Best Bamboo

Kitchen + Home Bamboo Towels

Bamboo Towels

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Reusable up to 120 times

  • Thick and absorbent

  • Machine washable

  • Perforated for easy tearing 

What We Don't Like
  • Need to be stored when not in use 

For those looking to maintain a more eco-friendly household, bamboo paper towels are a great alternative to traditional options. These towels are reusable up to 120 times (no, this is not a typo!), which will significantly reduce waste and likely prove more cost-effective in the long run. Some reusable paper towels are on the flimsy side, but the Kitchen + Home brand's version is surprisingly thick, soft, and sturdy. In fact, some people use these towels as replacement pads for their flat mops, too—a testament to how strong they are. Since they’re highly absorbent, you can tackle just about any spill in your home. 

The sheets are machine washable, so they’re effortless to clean and reuse. You can pop them in the dryer on low heat, but air-drying is best if you want to preserve their quality and shape. The only hitch is finding a place to store the towels once you’ve torn them off the roll. But there are plenty of workarounds for that issue: Try tucking them into a basket or stacking them in an empty, clean wipes container.

Price at time of publish: $10 for one roll

Amount: 20 sheets per roll | Material: Bamboo and rayon | Dimensions: 11 x 12 inches | Color: White

Best for Absorbency

Bounty Select-A-Size Paper Towels

Bounty Select a Size

Courtesy of Home Depot

What We Like
  • Thick and sturdy texture

  • Convenient select-a-size option

  • Large rolls

What We Don't Like
  • Higher price point

Bounty Paper Towels are two-ply, which makes them thick, soft to the touch, and super absorbent. A single sheet can mop up large spills in one swipe. Bounty towels also have small crevices in their design, which help to scrub away sticky messes and pick up loose dirt and debris. Even when they take on a lot of liquid, such as a spilled beverage, they don’t crumble or disintegrate when wet. And since they're so durable, you could consider the advice of sustainability expert Darby Hoover and get the most out of individual sheets by drying and reusing ones that have only been used for absorbing water.

The select-a-size feature is very convenient since you can tear off the exact amount you need while reducing unnecessary waste. Bounty paper towels are also available in double and triple-sized rolls, so you won’t have to replace them nearly as often. Although they are a bit pricier than most of our other picks, we see them as well worth it given their absorbency and reliability.

Price at time of publish: $39 for 12

Amount: 128 sheets per roll | Material: Paper | Dimensions: 11 x 6 inches (half sheet size) | Color: White

Best Reusable

Swedish Wholesale Dishcloth Cellulose Sponge Cloths

Swedish Dishcloths


What We Like
  • Incredibly absorbent 

  • Each cloth can be used 50 times or more

  • Machine-washable

  • Compostable

What We Don't Like
  • Smaller than standard paper towels

  • Higher upfront cost 

You might recognize these trendy Swedish towels from their viral moment on social media. Made from cellulose and natural cotton, these Swedish dishcloths can hold up to 20 times their weight in liquid. In addition to their impressive absorbency, each dishcloth can be washed and reused more than 50 times. On average, one pack lasts for about a year, which is enough to replace 150 standard paper towel rolls. What’s more, you can toss these cloths into the compost bin when they lose their verve. They come in a variety of colors and are sold in packs of 10, so you can match them to your home's decor. You might also consider opting for multiple sets (or a multi-color set) to differentiate between their uses—for example, you could reserve one for kitchen, one for bathroom, one for deep cleaning, and so on.

These dishcloths are machine washable, and they're safe to use on wood, marble, stainless steel, tile, and a variety of other surfaces. They are incredibly soft when wet and gritty enough to be used for scouring when dry, further adding to their versatility. Measuring 8 by 7 inches, they are smaller than standard paper towels, but we think their overall versatility more than makes up for the slightly smaller size.

Price at time of publish: $25 for 10 cloths

Amount: 10 dishcloths per pack | Material: Cellulose and natural cotton | Dimensions: 8 x 7 inches | Color: Blue, gray, lime green, purple, red, seafoam green, yellow, assorted

Best Aesthetic

Papaya Reusables Paper Towels

Papaya Reusables Paper Towels

Courtesy of Papaya Reusables

What We Like
  • Trendy and timeless design choices

  • Reusable

  • Included hooks for hanging

  • Come in sets of 2, 4, and 6

What We Don't Like
  • Only one size available

  • Pricier than similar styles

These reusable paper towels are equal parts form and function. Not only are they super absorbent, but they come in an array of colors and patterns, so there's almost surely a favorite waiting for you. We're also impressed by the smart design—these towels are crafted with a corner hole that allows you to hang them for drying and display, and they come with matching hooks (one hook for every two towels). They're sturdy enough to scrub counters yet gentle enough for use on skin, too.

As cute as these cloths are, we wish there was a bit more size variety in their selections. And, while the cellulose and cotton material is washable and reusable (we love the idea of popping them in the dishwasher and then letting them hang dry), they won't last forever. They're also a bit pricier than other reusable styles, but the brand predicts that each cloth will replace up to 17 rolls of traditional paper towels, so you can still count on them for long-term usage.

Price at time of publish: $36 for four sheets and two hooks

Amount: Sets of 2, 4, or 6 | Material: Cellulose & cotton | Dimensions: Not listed | Color: Various 

Best Recycled

Seventh Generation 100% Recycled Paper Towels (Unbleached)

Seventh Generation 100% Recycled Paper Towels (Unbleached)


What We Like
  • Made with recycled paper

  • Free from dyes, inks, and fragrances

  • Works well on most spills

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Sheets are one size

  • Not as strong as other options

Made from 100 percent recycled content, Seventh Generation Unbleached Paper Towels rival traditional paper towels, but they skip out on fragrances, dyes, and inks. So, not only are they more environmentally friendly, but they can also be a good choice for people with sensitive skin. While these recycled paper towels aren't as strong or absorbent as the Bounty or Brawny paper towels we featured above, they still get the job done.  

One drawback to these paper towels is that they lack half-perforations, so you might find yourself using a bit more than you need (unless you're really good at precise tearing). This slightly contrasts their eco-friendly purpose, and it's something to consider before you purchase them if you think it'll annoy you. They can be found in both brown or natural hues, which could also prove a pleasant addition to kitchens decorated in classically neutral tones.

Price at time of publish: $56 for 24 rolls

Amount: 120 sheets per roll | Material: Paper | Dimensions: 11 x 9 inches | Color: Brown or natural

Best for Windows

Scott Shop Towels


Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Deliver a streak-free shine

  • Cloth-like texture

  • Ideal for bigger spills and messes

What We Don't Like
  • Less towels per roll than other options

Getting a streak-free finish when cleaning glass can seem like an impossible task, but Scott's Shop Towels are up for the challenge. They are untreated and don’t contain any binders, so they won’t leave streaks or lint behind. Their smooth, cloth-like texture makes them ideal for delicate surfaces like windows, mirrors, and electric stovetops. They don’t have the quilting that you’ll find on other brands, which can make some paper towels feel rough.

These paper towels are often used in auto body shops to mop up grease and oil, which attests to their impressive absorbency. They’re also equipped to handle more substantial household messes, too. Compared to other brands, you do get fewer towels per roll (55, to be exact), but if you limit your usage to glass and the other surfaces you want to be especially careful with, you won’t run through them as quickly. They're also a light blue color, so you can easily tell them apart from traditional rolls—or look for the packages sold in pop-up boxes for convenience.

Price at time of publish: $55 for 12 rolls

Amount: 55 rolls per sheet | Material: Not listed | Dimensions: 11 x 10.4 inches | Color: Blue 

Best for Hands

Kleenex Expressions Disposable Paper Hand Towels

Kleenex Expressions Disposable Paper Hand Towels

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Soft to the touch

  • Design-forward packaging

  • No dyes, inks, or fragrances

What We Don't Like
  • Pricier than regular paper towels

  • 60 sheets per box

Most of the time, we reach for regular cloth towels to dry our hands, but sometimes a disposable towel might be the cleaner, more hygienic choice since studies show that they can cause less contamination in a bathroom or washroom than other drying methods. So if a family member or housemate is sick, or you're hosting a gathering and want to limit the spread of germs as much as possible, single-use options might be preferred to shared towels. In that case, we'd recommend these paper hand towels from Kleenex.

These paper towels are extremely soft and absorbent, so they're comfortable to use. (Users have reported that they've even used them as facial tissues in a pinch—something you might not consider doing with rougher paper towels.) While they aren't made with dyes, inks, or fragrances that could potentially irritate sensitive skin, they come in pleasantly designed boxes that are ready for display.

Now, if you come to rely on these regularly, the costs would quickly add up—at 60 sheets a box, a busy household could go through a package quite quickly. However, for a clean and convenient addition to your kitchen counter or guest bathroom, we think they can make a lot of sense for certain situations.

Price at time of publish: $22 for six boxes

Amount: 60 sheets per box | Material: Paper | Dimensions: 9.1 x 8 inches | Color: White 

Best Multifold

Scott Essential Multifold Paper Towel

 Scott Essential Multifold Paper Towels

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Pocketed design for absorbency

  • Perfect for single towel dispensing

What We Don't Like
  • Not as thick or absorbent as other brands

  • Not as effective on big spills

Another suitable choice for hand-drying, Scott Essential Multifold Paper Towels are a great option when you're looking for convenience and affordability. At less than a cent per sheet, these multifold paper towels are one of the most affordable options on the market. Since these don't come on a roll, you'll need a multifold paper towel dispenser that allows you to pull out a single sheet without coming into contact with the next. As an alternative, you can try displaying them in a basket—though, this approach may not be for everyone.

Since they are single-ply, don't expect them to be as thick or absorbent as premium options, but they have signature “absorbency pockets” that soak up water. You may need two towels to fully dry your hands, and a few more to mop up big spills. However, they can be perfect for lightweight jobs like wiping down the counter or sweeping up crumbs.

Price at time of publish: $36 for 16 packs

Amount: 250 sheets per pack | Material: Paper | Dimensions: 9.2 x 9.4 inches | Color: White 

Final Verdict

Our top pick is Brawny Tear-A-Square Paper Towels because they are affordable, absorbent, and strong enough to tackle big spills. Their horizontal and vertical perforations allow you to tear off a full, half, or quarter of a sheet, so you use less paper per wipe than with other brands. If you're looking for a more eco-friendly choice, consider Kitchen + Home Bamboo Towels, a bamboo alternative that you can throw in the washing machine up to 120 times.

What to Look for in Paper Towels


Each brand of paper towel has a different number of sheets per roll, and the size of a full sheet will vary as well. Most sheets are 11 inches in height, but they can range from 5.5 inches to 11 inches in width. Determining the value of a particular product can be tricky because you also have to consider absorbency. With a highly absorbent paper towel, you don’t need to use as many sheets to clean up a spill. 

Perforated paper towel rolls, which allow you to select the size you want, are a better value and more eco-friendly because you don’t have to use more than what’s necessary. If your needs vary (you're not alone!), consider our "best overall" pick, Brawny Tear-A-Square, since it allows for the most flexibility.


Paper towels are made of ground-up, recyclable plant materials called cellulose, including cotton, wood, and other plants. Cellulose is made up of small sugar molecules, and these molecules give paper towels their absorbency. You'll also find options that use a mixture of cellulose and cotton, a popular choice for reusable towels (like our "best aesthetic" and "best reusable" picks). When shopping for paper towels, a good indicator of absorbency is the ply count. Paper towel quality is measured in plies. Due to its thicker texture, two-ply paper is stronger and more absorbent than single-ply paper.


As Darby Hoover, a sustainability expert with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) mentioned, paper towels that have only absorbed water can be dried and used again, "but it is not recommended to reuse paper towels that have been in contact with food, other beverages, or pet waste," she adds. Consider whether you frequently use paper towels to clean up messes, dry hands, help with food prep, or something else completely, and that can help you figure out the best type of towels for your home.

Remember, you can also opt for bamboo towels, which you can use multiple times, or cloth towels (our "best aesthetic" and "best reusable" are good examples). If you have room in your kitchen, you may want to stock both disposable and reusable towels so you have options at the ready.

  • Can you flush paper towels?

    No. Unlike toilet paper, paper towels aren’t designed to break down easily in water. In fact, their larger size and dense texture may clog the toilet, especially if you’re on a septic system.

  • Are paper towels compostable?

    Generally, yes. "You can put them in your backyard compost. Shred them first so they don’t mat up," Hoover says. "Some municipalities accept them in municipal compost pickup. You can check your local compost protocols to see if that applies to you.” 

    However, you should consider what exactly you used the paper towels for, before tossing them in your compost. Katie Berry, The Spruce's Cleaning Review Board member, advises to not "compost paper towels used with cleaning products, paint, automobile oil," or anything of that nature.

  • Can paper towels be recycled?

    Used paper towels cannot be recycled because they often come into contact with food, grease, and other soiled items, posing a contamination risk to the recycling process. However, the cardboard tube from your paper towel roll is recyclable. Although eco-friendly towels tend to be higher in price, they can, of course, be used more than once—which makes them a more sustainable alternative.

  • Is it better to clean with paper towels or rags?

    There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer since "better" is relative and can vary depending on the cleaning tasks before you. Though, we can give you a few pointers to help you decide what cleaning products are best for your needs. You'll definitely want to consider whether a paper towel is up to the task, meaning that it won't disintegrate or rip. Second, factor in whether it's the kind of mess that's not too much trouble or too unpleasant to rinse out of a reusable cloth (pet owners, we're looking at you). Finally, keep costs and sustainability in mind. We encourage reusable choices whenever possible since they tend to be earth- and wallet-friendly, but there are always exceptions.

Why Trust The Spruce?

Sage McHugh is a freelance writer specializing in home decor and lifestyle content. She has written for The Spruce since 2019. For this roundup, McHugh researched dozens of paper towels, carefully evaluating each product's size, material, absorbency, and usability. She also took hundreds of customer reviews and write-ups from third-party websites into account. Additional input was provided by Darby Hoover, a sustainability expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Dena Ogden, commerce writer at The Spruce, updated this piece to include additional testing insights from real-world testers. She's been writing professionally since 2016, and with The Spruce since August 2022, specializing in appliances, cleaning, and organizing topics.

Updated by
Marisa Donnelly
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Marisa Donnelly is a lifestyle expert and writer with over a decade of experience sharing her knowledge about what home decor reveals about personalities. Her bylines have also appeared on HuffPost, Bustle, and BossBabe.
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