Best Paper Towels Ranked by Consumer Reports

By: Mike Fossum - March 26, 2014

Consumer Reports, the monthly magazine that’s been published by Consumers Union since 1936, has reviewed and compared 18 different paper towel brands, using results from its in-house testing laboratory and survey research center.

The tests conducted included absorbency (a measure of how much liquid weight a towel can suck up), scrubbing strength (the amount of strokes it takes to tear a wet towel when rubbed across an abrasive surface) and wet strength (the force it takes for a ball to break through a paper towel).

Interestingly, the “green” brands of towel scored very low – in the 40’s on a scale of 100. Seventh Generation Right Size and Scott Naturals Mega Roll Choose-A-Size were the green brands we tested. Seventh Generation states its rolls made from 100 percent recycled paper. Scott said its Naturals brand are made from 60 percent recycled paper. Both brands failed.

Consumer Reports submitted a video of their towel testing:

Brands tested included Bounty, Viva and Brawny, as well as big-box store brands like Costco’s Kirkland Signature and Walmart’s Great Value. Bounty’s DuraTowels were highly rated in all the tests, though they cost around twice as much as all other brands. Of the economy brands, Walmart’s Great Value Strong and Absobent towels were rated highest.

More paper towel intrigue:

To be clear, a paper towel (also called kitchen roll or a kitchen paper) is an absorbent textile made from paper instead of cloth. In 1907 the Scott Paper Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania introduced paper towels to help prevent the spread of germs sticking to cloth towels in restrooms. Paper towels are likewise disposable and intended to be used only once. Paper towels defy gravity while soaking up water, and can be individually packed as stacks of folded towels, or coiled into rolls. Uses for domestic and institutional paper towels include wiping up spills, drying off hands, dusting, scrubbing, cleaning windows, spitting gum into, eating sandwiches off of and unrealized origami.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Mike Fossum

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Mike FossumMike is a writer and videographer based in Lexington, KY. Follow Mike on Twitter and Google+.

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  • Libby Thornton

    And where are the results? What is the ranking? Lousy article.

    • Steve

      Walmart wins

  • https://www.facebook.com/karl.hungus.984 Karl Hungus

    Regardless of brand, I always choose the “select-a-size” towels that are perforated into half-sheets. A roll of paper towels goes a lot further this way.

  • Linda Lee

    Didn’t even rank the Viva . I have always thought that Viva was the best by far….

  • tomhayward

    Simple, Viva is the best. It is soft enough to use on your face and hands, does not come apart, is very absorbent. I have used ever major brand, Viva simply wins. Bounty is not bad if Viva is not available, but not as soft as Viva.