A paper towel
is an absorbent textile
A textile or cloth is a flexible woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, or other material to produce long strands...
made from paper instead of cloth. Unlike cloth towel
A towel is a piece of absorbent fabric or paper used for drying or wiping. It draws moisture through direct contact, often using a blotting or a rubbing motion. Common household textile towels are made from cotton, rayon, bamboo, nonwoven fibers or a few other materials.-Types of towels:* A bath...
s, paper towels are disposable and intended to be used only once. Paper towels soak up water because they are loosely woven which enables water to travel between them, even against gravity. Paper towels can be individually packed (as stacks of folded towels or held coiled).
Paper towels have almost the same purposes as conventional towels, such as drying hands, wiping windows, dusting and cleaning up spills. They are most commonly known for being used in the kitchen.
Paper is made from either virgin or recycled paper pulp
Pulp is a lignocellulosic fibrous material prepared by chemically or mechanically separating cellulose fibres from wood, fibre crops or waste paper. Wood pulp is the most common raw material in papermaking.-History:...
which is extracted from wood or fiber crops. They are sometimes bleached
Bleaching of wood pulp is the chemical processing carried out on various types of wood pulp to decrease the color of the pulp, so that it becomes whiter. The main use of wood pulp is to make paper where whiteness is an important characteristic...
during the production process to make the color more white. It is not uncommon for rolls of paper towels to include intricate colored images on each square (such as flowers or teddy bears). Resin size
Sizing or size is any one of numerous specific substances that is applied to or incorporated in other material, especially papers and textiles, to act as a protecting filler or glaze....
is used to improve the wet strength
Wet strength of paper is a measure of how well the fibreweb is holding together upon a force of rupture. Wet strength is routinely expressed as the ratio of wet to dry tensile force at break.-Mechanism:...
. Patterns of shapes such as circles or diamonds are often imprinted into the paper towels to help it hold moisture. Manufacturers use the pattern of the material, microscopic spaces within the pattern, and a type of cellulose in the fibres in order to maximize absorption. Most rolls are manufactured with two layers of paper, but different types can have more layers.
They are classified by their key properties such as strength, absorbency, weight, and thickness.
Paper towels are packed individually and sold as stacks, or are held on a continuous roll.
Colored paper towels were introduced 30 years ago and come in two distinct classes, domestic and institutional.
Paper towels were first made by Arthur Scott from a cartload of rejected toilet paper. He perforated them into small towel-size sheets and sold them as the first disposable paper towels. Scott
The Scott Paper Company is a USA-based corporation which manufactures mostly paper based consumer products.Scott Paper was founded in 1879 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by brothers E. Irvin and Clarence Scott, and is often credited as being the first to market toilet paper sold on a roll...
was also the first to introduce the paper towel for kitchens, in 1931.
Tissue products including paper towels are split into "at home" and "away from home" markets, with about two-thirds of North American consumption at home. As a percent of total tissue products, the "away from home" segment uses a third more paper towels. The growth in "away from home" use of paper towels has been reduced by switch from folded towels to roll towel dispensers, which reduces the amount of paper towels used by each patron.
Within the forest product
A forest product is any material derived from a forest for commercial use, such as lumber, paper, or forage for livestock. Wood, by far the dominant commercial forest product, is used for many industrial purposes, such as the finished structural materials used for the construction of buildings, or...
s industry, paper towels are a major part of the "tissue market", second only to toilet paper
Toilet paper is a soft paper product used to maintain personal hygiene after human defecation or urination. However, it can also be used for other purposes such as blowing one's nose when one has a cold or absorbing common spills around the house, although paper towels are more used for the latter...
. Consumption of paper towels and other tissue products is highest in the United States of America, with consumption 50% higher than in Europe, and nearly 500% higher than in Latin America.