Are name-brand paper towels worth the cost?

Consumer Reports tests six brands

Are name-brand paper towels worth the extra money?

Consumer Reports’ testers just spent weeks putting six popular paper towel brands through a series of pick-up, strength, and absorbency tests to find out which ones clean up messes the best.

“They’re not always the best option for the environment, but there are just some messes, like kid’s and pet’s messes, that you don’t want to clean up with a reusable paper towel,” said Consumer Reports’ Jodhaira Rodriguez.

They tested Bounty, Brawny, Scott, Presto, Sparkle and Amazon Basics.

For quickly cleaning up spills, you want a single sheet to hold as much liquid as possible, so testers calculated the absorbency of each paper towel.

Testers also measured strength by slowly adding weighted test pellets into a cup held up by just a single wet paper towel until the paper towel gave out.

A machine helped testers evaluate scrubbing strength. The best paper towels scrubbed a piece of sandpaper for about 15 cycles before breaking down; the worst struggled after just six cycles.

And they even simulated vomit with a concoction of chunky oatmeal and dehydrated vegetables to see how well each paper towel could pick up the mess, something pet owners can appreciate.

Consumer Reports also checked to see how fast each sheet ripped from its roll and whether or not a paper towel could be reused. The testers evaluated the price both per roll and per sheet.

The winner? A name synonymous with paper towels for almost 60 years, Bounty. “The quicker picker upper” had the highest overall score, but it comes at a price. Bounty was the most expensive brand tested. CR says Brawny could be a good alternative if you’re trying to save a few dollars and don’t want to lose out on performance.

All the paper towels in CR’s tests could be reused after light use. But paper towels aren’t recyclable.

About the Author

Marilyn Moritz is an award-winning journalist dedicated to digging up information that can make people’s lives a little bit better. As KSAT’S 12 On Your Side Consumer reporter, she focuses on exposing scams and dangerous products and helping people save money.

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