BUNZL Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies Blog

Paper Towels Buying Guide

Paper towels are some of the most versatile cleaning products on the market, as they can be used for drying hands, cleaning small spillages and everyday cleaning in a variety of settings in any workplace. In this blog, we’ll look at what factors you should consider before bulk-buying paper towels, as well as demystifying the folding terms that could cause confusion.

You will want to take a number of factors into account such as ply, absorbency, sheet size, and fold type, as well as cost, in order to decide which type of paper towel is best for you.

Can you recycle paper towels?

You cannot recycle dirty or clean paper towels or kitchen roll, and so before throwing unused materials away, you should try to find a purpose for them. However, a small number of paper towels can be put with food waste and taken away for composting or recycling into biogas to produce heat, electricity, or transport fuels.

Recycled paper towels are also a great way to reduce your environmental impact, as the materials used aren’t ‘virgin’ – meaning they’re getting a second use.

What are the best paper towels for you?

Choosing the correct paper towels will probably seem like an easy choice at first glance, but here at Bunzl CHS we stock different types of paper towels – so it’s important for you to consider differences between the products in order to choose paper towels that are most fit for purpose.

To make sure you’re buying the right paper towels, consider:

Ply count

This is how many layers of paper are used to make the complete paper towel. The higher the ply count, the more absorbent, thick, soft, and strong the paper towel will be.

Sheet size

Paper towels come in different sizes, consider which size would be best for your needs. Smaller paper towels can help you to use less overall, but larger ones can be more useful for big spills.

Environmental certifications

As they’re made of paper, paper towels will often have environmental accreditations which you might be interested in if you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint. Keep an eye out for FSC and PEFC labels on the packet.

What are the different types of paper towel?


These paper towels do not contain any recycled or alternative fibres and usually have very high absorbency.


Recycled paper towels are made from a mix of reused materials and are therefore less harmful to the environment.

Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF)

These are free from the chlorine-gas bleaching processes and will be bleached instead with chlorine dioxide, meaning the process is less harmful to the environment but also to workers.

Processed Chlorine-Free (PCF)

PCF towels will be treated with bleach alternatives such as hydrogen peroxide or oxygen.

Methods of folding paper towels

C-fold paper towels

These are the most common folded paper towel, where a square towel has both sides folded inwards to meet in the middle.

S-fold or Z-fold paper towels

This fold ensures that paper towels are interlocked, so as the paper towel is pulled out of the dispenser, the towel after will follow it. This is hygienic and easy to control usage.


Multifold paper towels are folded in three layers, in the shape of an accordion. Multifold towels are usually more absorbent than others due to their larger size, meaning that they could be a cost-effective option for high traffic areas.

Single fold

Single fold paper towels are folded once down the middle of the towel, and they are stacked interlocking with others. This controls their usage and means that consumption and waste are reduced.


Rolled or centrefed paper towels are best for commercial use and are commonly used in kitchens. The towel is pulled down from the centre of the roll, allowing it to unravel inside the dispenser.