How To Find the Best Deals on Paper Towels

My loyal readers know that I love to find great deals on things people use everyday. After my recent Best price for Toilet Paper research project I thought it was time to do another research project to find out what is the best value for paper towels.

To find out what is the best value for paper towels I went to 5 different big-name stores and gathered prices, sizes, ply,rolls and sheets per roll information. I then compiled all the data into a spreadsheet so I could compare and decide which one gave the most value for the money. I also tested many many brands to figure out the best quality brands. The stores I visited were Walmart, Target, Costco, Cash & Carry and Winco (Pacific NW store).

Now before I get into the best value top picks I have to mention that for years I never used paper towels at all. I would always use wash cloths and wash them – which saves money for many people. It’s a thrifty living technique that can save a LOT of money.  It was couponing actually that convinced me to buy paper towels since I was able to get them for so little.  Now I’m hooked! I love having them on hand for quick clean up projects, messy hands, and to wipe down my counters and windows. If the paper towels aren’t a great price though I usually just back to my wash cloth method until another great sale comes.

So here is the spreadsheet with all the data. It shows stores, brands, regular price, square footage, ply, the price per sq foot, price per sheet and price per roll.  Feel free to print this out and add it to your coupon binder or coupon box as a reference guide. Note – when you open this spreadsheet there are three tabs at the bottom – one that lists all the data, one that lists the top 5 from each brand as well as the top 5 price per sheet, and one with other interesting data.

You have two options to view this list:

  • View in Google Docs version
  • For printable version from Google Docs: Click File, Download As, choose PDF and export to your computer
  • There are three tabs at the bottom, make sure and check each tab as there is useful information there as well.

The #1 Best Price per Sheet is Walmart’s NEW brand Choose-a-Size paper towel single rolls.

Who would have thought a single roll would be the most inexpensive!! Not me, this was a total surprise. The Walmart New paper towels cost $0.97 each but have 165 sheets in one roll. That makes each sheet only 0.005 per sheet – just half of a penny each sheet.  Note: This is not the paper towel roll I pick as my best value overall – because of the quality, however this is a great bargain. I had to include at least one bar graph to show you the top 5 Select-A-Size paper towel values.

My Journey To Determine the Best Value of Paper Towels

After compiling all the data I had a hard time deciding what was the most valuable information about paper towels. There were 3 different ways to determine this  -  The price per sheet, the price per sq. foot or the price per roll.  After thinking about how I personally use paper towels I decided the best value would be the price per sheet, because I usually grab just one sheet off at a time.  I would like more sheets for my money and quality was a big deal to me. I also wanted something that holds up when wet. I prefer bigger rolls too so I don’t have to change them as often, so I factored this into my tests.

To get the price per sheet you need to look at how many sheets there are per roll. Times that number by how many rolls are in the package. Then divide that number into the price. So example – Bounty Select a Size 8-roll package $14.99: there are 210 sheets per roll x8 rolls = 1680 sheets. Divide 1680 into $14.99 = 0.008 per sheet!

First off – Lets just get the PLY factor out of the picture. There is 1 ply and 2 ply wording on the paper towels…but there was NO NOTABLE difference!  I found Viva paper towels are 1 ply and they’re one of the best in quality. In fact they were much better than many of the 2-ply brands I tested. Now for toilet paper I tested in my previous article… ply matters.

Next – There are 2 different Types of paper towels – The Regular Size and the Select-A-Size

The regular paper towels have large sheets – usually ranging in size from 11×9 to 11×11.

The Select-A-Size paper towels have much smaller sheets.  These usually are sized at 11×6. I think the idea behind these smaller sized towels is that you won’t waste as much if you have a small project or wipe up job. At first I thought, “Nah…I would probably end up just using two towels instead of the one regular sized one..”, but after doing my tests I realized that the smaller sheets do about the same amount of work a larger sheet does. So you can save $$!

Next I determined how well they clean up spills. So I took out one of my bottles of FREE Ken’s Dressing – I chose the Italian kind. It’s  full of oil, which makes is harder to clean up. I dropped a teaspoon of this dressing in front of each one and wiped it up to determine the quality.  I then added each paper towel to a bowl of warm soapy water to get rid of the salad dressing residue/oil to test how well they hold up when wet.

Here is the results of the data I came up with:

Select-A-Size Paper Towels

  • Brawny – Did a great job in both the Kens dressing test as well as a test dipping them in warm soapy water and washing the counter. This was my favorite in the Select a Size tests!
  • Viva – Very soft, worked great when wet, but just okay when sopping up the dressing.
  • Great Value – Was my #1 vote for the wet test, and my #2 for the dry test in quality. Did surprisingly well!
  • White Cloud – Was not great at wet or dry test.

Regular Paper Towels

  • Viva Tough When Wet – It was a big sheet, the softest, cleaned up well and was actually a teeny bit thicker than regular Viva – but only can tell when it was wet. This was my favorite one in the regular sized paper towels.
  • Bounty Extra Soft – Did really well in the dressing test and amazing for the wet test!
  • Plenty – Did well in both wet + dry test
  • Up&Up – nice big sheets and did great for the dressing test. Okay for wet test.
  • Viva regular – did well in both tests, very soft.
  • Sparkle – just so-so – did okay in both tests.
  • Simply Value – was horrible wet, very papery and thin.
  • Tork – Not great at soaking up dressing, horrible when wet. Very cheap quality.

 So are you ready for my #1 Value pick for Paper Towels??? 

My top choice is the Bounty Select-A-Size Huge Roll regularly priced at $14.99 at Target for 8 rolls. Each roll is 210 sheets per roll, so it lasts a long time before having to be changed out. Plus the regular price cost made the top 5 list for best price per sheet at only 0.008 price per sheet (and right now there is a coupon for this!) Bounty Select a Size passed both my dressing and wet tests with flying colors.

I hope you enjoy this spreadsheet!  Happy money saving!29 Comments

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Comments

  1. Leslie Konshuk says:

    I LOVE THIS! I’m a wash cloth user…and a bad one at that! I can go through 20 wash cloths a day! I’m wasting water, detergent, and time, washing them all. For many of my quick wipe ups, hands, and yucky sticky jobs…paper towels would be best, but I never seem to catch them on sale. With your research…I can see what is a good price! If it wasn’t snowing so hard, I’d go in and buy some today!!! Thank you so much! You are amazing!

  2. Thanks Leslie! You know I never really thought about all the wasting water and detergent..good point. Yes, you may want to stay in for a few days…this weather in the NW is horrible.

  3. Amazing research! I recently became a convert to the Up and Up full size paper towels but I agree, they aren’t the best for wiping up a wet counter top. I like to use a paper towel sheet folded in quarters as a napkin when I eat, but I reuse it by turning it over and folding it in the opposite direction. So if I’m not too messy when eating – lol – I can get several uses out of one sheet!

  4. I am addicted to the kleenex hand towels for things like buffing granite counter tops or anything you need a lint free cloth for.. and I love my cheap paper towels for that – oh YUCK mess that there is no way I want to deal with a rag with..

    BUT.. I’m really trying to reduce our carbon foot print.. we recently moved to reusable sandwhich bags.. and now that my pinterest addiction is growing I found this:
    http://cottontailbabies.org/2011/01/unpaper-towel-tutorial/

    and I’m thinking of making them – probably more for the uses I use the kleenex hand towels for then for real honest nasty messes.. of course I have a good stock of both kinds of paper towels..

    Another note – you can put paper towels in the food waste – or yard waste bins!!! :)

  5. OH! Gosh I got so excited to share my piniterest ideas – I totally forgot!

    AWESOME review! I’ve always wondered what works better.. :) :)

  6. Great work!!!
    What do you think would be a good price per Sq Ft for a good paper towel or do think it would be better to keep paper towel calculations to per sheet?

    Thank you
    Brian

  7. Hello Brian, Yes I did the math on the spreadsheet for the top 5 best price per roll as well as the best price per sq ft. I just went in and looked and the Winco Hytop 6 roll is still the best price per sq ft too! (To see this info for yourself open up that spreadsheet and click on the different tabs at the bottom.)

  8. Love that you took the time to do this-thank you! Paper towels are getting SO expensive. Its so frustrating trying to figure out the best value when you’re at the store-the packaging is so deceptive and with different size sheets, even just quickly conparing price per sheet didnt work well. It used to be if you got an item in a multi-pack it was always less expensive, but manufacturers have gotten tricky and now use that to their advantage and single packs are often a better value.

  9. Thank you so much for this post! Not only have I been needing to do this myself, but it’s something everyone should be thinking about! I’ll be linking to it later this week on BakersfieldMom.com!

  10. Thank you for the post on tp and pt. As a mom of four young ones in tow, with a spouse who is constantly deployed, the store is a place to zip in and zip out. These articles are a GREAT resource. I really appreciate you doing all this work for only commendations.

  11. coupon_queen66 says:

    I have to say I really dont use paper towels that much, but I did find a great deal at target a month ago, a coupon on their website for 1.00 of paper towels and their single rolls are only .99 cent, so I picked up 50 rolls! I use alot of wash clothes, it is easiler for me to grab a clean cloth and wipe up a spill that it is to waste paper towels for the enviroment. Just a thought

  12. This is great to see, and thank you for the post. I’ve done similar research just with the numbers. Can you explain why you did not factor a paper towel’s ply # into the equation? I have to think that you might have been able to avoid actually physically testing the products (and spending all that $).

    You also state that 1-ply is about the same as 2-ply, and that a small sheet will clean up as much as a large sheet. I understand your reasoning (small spills don’t require a large sheet or 2-ply, no need to waste $ on larger sheets), but if you crunch the numbers, I think there must be a significant difference. Is there a scientific measurement for how much 1-ply can absorb v 2-ply? It’s the last measurement I need for my perfect price/square inch formula. Thanks!

    • …as if she didn’t spend enough of her time doing this research you want her to do more? If you want that much more detail just to buy some silly paper towels do it yourself!

  13. Thank you! Such great research. I don’t know if you have time for this, but…..someone needs to do this on an ongoing basis. The paper towel manufacturers are very good at constantly changing the size or name of the rolls (“super”, “mega”, “huge”, “jumbo”), but also, most importantly, the number of square feet per roll, which is what really matters. All their smoke and mirrors helps to hide their continual price increases. They would probably freak out if you published, on a weekly or monthly basis, the price comparison on price per square foot by brand (and whether it was choose a size or not). Just like those websites that tell you the CURRENT cheapest price for gasoline, your website could publish the CURRENT cheapest price for paper towels. If you put this at the top/first page of your blog, boy, would your hits increase! So many people would benefit by this information. Thanks so much for all you do.

    • Thank you Madeline! I really appreciate your advice. I have already done a paper towel one as well, and plan on doing more of these for all kinds of things in the future! So glad you like this research!

  14. ty

  15. You might need to change this write up if you re-investigate Great Value paper towels. They USED to be my favorites. Maybe they decided we were all too stupid to catch on when they changed the size of the paper tube so they give you a lot less paper towels now. I didn’t see the price going down. I did realize what they had done though when the paper towels just spin around my vertical paper towel holder. Very sad. I’d love to see their financial statements.

  16. Bless you for doing this! Paper products are the most frustrating items to shop for. I was prepared to do a similar analysis, then found your article & spreadsheet, which saved me tons of time and effort. THANK YOU!!!!!

  17. Bounty has always been our go to paper towel because of all the reasons you mentioned. I was so sick of having to use twice as much of the cheap brands for the same messes that Bounty took care of. I know it seems more expensive than store brand etc but it is worth it!

  18. I know this post is from a while ago, but my consistent favorite is the Scott Choose a Size because it is consistently 15 rolls for $13 at Giant. Have you ever tested them? Any idea how they stack up? Love this blog! Thanks for your research!

  19. I agree with you 100 %. ..Bounty Paper Towels are far the most absorbent paper towels that you can buy,I have a dog kennel,and I am constantly purchasing paper towels,Bounty is by far the best for the money.

  20. Christine says:

    I agree paper towels are too shockingly expensive; however I use them since I cook in cast iron cookware since it raises the red blood cell count. The paper towels are used to wipe up the pans when done; and are great for quickly cleaning bathroom surfaces. It’s getting so that I’d have to make a special trip for them alone so I’ve been wondering what to do myself. You know they’re high when even Walmarts are too expensive. I think I’ll try BigLots for that but the quality of Costco’s are something I really like and I’m fine with the price; their bath tissue is excellent too and you get a lot of it for the money. Even so if I don’t have a lot of shopping to do and need the paper towels, it would be nice to go to a closer store. BigLots has the best price on Laundry Detergents and they have perfume and dye free ones; that’s another item elsewhere that’s skyrocketed in price.

  21. Christine Bell says:

    Just found your great blog as a result of trying to find the best price/source for paper towels. I normally bought Bounty at Costco but they stopped selling the Select-a-Size which I prefer. Since your review is a bit dated now, I’m confused by terminology. Bounty comes in “Huge Roll” as well as “Big Roll” — boy, they love to confuse people — same as toilet paper. It’s like they are manipulating us and deliberately trying to fool us. I should go back to using washable bar cloths.

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