With so many paper towel options available, it’s easy for the average consumer to get bogged down. The difference between various brands and styles can be confusing. So we conducted a series of tests of over 40 kinds of paper towels to help determine which is best for cleaning the most common household spill: tears.
Why You Should Trust Us
Drawing from decades of experience covering cleaning products, we created a grading system by consulting at length with paper towel experts and manufacturers. Then, we corroborated our findings against thousands of online ratings and sources like Consumer Reports and Good Housekeeping. To create the tears, we referenced a complete list of every mistake we’ve ever made, usually right as we were trying to fall asleep.
Who Should Get This
While sometimes viewed as wasteful, paper towels are a great way to tackle the occasional (yet inevitable) messes. Although a dishrag or sponge is suitable to handle smaller spills, the convenience of paper towels makes them perfect for more substantial things like the routine daily drying of tear-soaked countertops and floors. For that reason, we recommend keeping a roll or two handy anywhere crying is likely to occur, including on public transportation, at the post office, in a random CVS that one time for no reason, or basically anywhere inside or outside.
How We Picked And Tested
Over the course of several weeks, we performed a series of rigorous tests measuring each paper towel’s ability to lift tears from various surfaces. We tested them on carpets and hardwood floors. We tested them in bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. We even secretly tested them in this one discreet nook in our office, where we pretended to take phone calls so nobody could see us.
Sometimes the tests lasted a few minutes. Other times, they lasted for several hours. After each test we recorded how efficiently each brand of paper towel was able to mop up our tears. It was during this appraisal that we discovered the three main attributes which indicate a paper towel’s worth: strength, scrubbing power, and the ability to absorb the evidence of despair on a regular basis.
Using these primary traits as a baseline, we quickly ruled out the Kirkland Signature and Scott brand paper towels from consideration. Neither product exhibited the strength or absorbency required to soak up even a modest amount of tears. By the time we reached the heavy sobbing round of testing, which was almost immediately, the Kirkland and Scott towels had already shred completely. So while they may still be a viable option for those on a tight budget, we don’t recommend either brand for anything other than gentle weeping.
Once the Kirkland and Scott rolls were out of the running, we focused our attention on the remaining challengers. The Bounty Select-a-Size paper towels were able to mop up nearly every puddle of our tears. Regardless of how abundant, wet, and sad the tears were, the Bounty Select-a-Size managed to tackle spills with ease. In terms of scrubbing power, we also found that the texture of the Bounty Select-a-Size towels were able to wipe tears from most common surfaces, even when mixed with common secondary spills like ranch dressing, pizza sauce, and Coors. Often all three of these combined.
Another top contender in our study were the Viva paper towels by Kleenex. The Viva towels also displayed tremendous absorbency when tasked with cleaning up large pools of our tears. In one case, the Viva were even able to remove tears from a pillowcase that was left drenched after an entire sleepless night. Occasionally, we noticed the integrity of the Viva towel fibers appeared to break down. This issue seemed to be limited to only cases in which the saline content of our tears was higher, probably from the elevated sodium content of a mostly-ramen-noodle diet. This issue will obviously vary by consumer, but it was still enough of a problem to knock several points off Viva’s final score.
The “Green” Options
Our final test towels were the Marcel Small Steps made of recycled materials, which are a terrific option for anyone seeking an eco-friendly way to hide crippling sorrow. While it doesn’t stack up to the competition, its lower impact on the environment might help you feel better enough to ultimately produce fewer tears (thus reducing the need to use them in the first place). We found these paper towels were only effective during the brief periods when we were able to distract ourselves from the crushing psychological weight that’s bearing down on all of us, every day, all the time. This isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, just something to consider.
For a truly low-impact choice, one might also consider completely breaking down in the shower and simply letting the water rinse your tears down the drain. We tried this in both the standard knee-hugging crouch and shivering fetal position, with more or less equal degrees of success. As an added bonus, we found the shower sounds were often sufficient enough to also drown out the sound of pathetic whimpering.
Overall, we determined that the best paper towel for mopping up tears were the generic rolls from the nearest grocery store. Like us, they required more effort than they were worth to reach, and they completely fell apart under the slightest amount of external pressure. Of course, you could spend a little more for better quality but, if you’re like us, you’ll probably also decide you don’t deserve it.
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