The Paper Towel Duel

November 25, 2008


Just in time for the holidays, I decided to do my own little experiment with paper towels. Now as a frugal lady, I don’t use paper towels a great deal– I use washcloths and then I launder the washcloths. But I need to keep paper towels around the house for things like cleaning out the cat litter box, wiping the car’s oil dipstick, cleaning up hairballs, etc. These are things I consider unsanitary and do not want to have circulating through my laundry.

Also, I have paper products during the holiday season when I am more inclined to have lots of company over, making lots of little messes. So I purchase paper towels, paper napkins, etc. These days I am in “paper products” mode. I’ve been checking out the many brands (btw, MUST stores have so many brands?!) and their prices. I have been wondering for a while which paper towel is more economical and effective– a “fancy” name brand, or the generic, store brand? Here’s what I found out!

*AAAAAAND in this corner! It’s the Bounty one-sheet working wonder! In the other corner, it’s the cheapo Decorator Towels Walmart brand!*

*ding ding*

Papertowels 1

(please ignore my horrid orange laminate countertops. I DID NOT install them. And yes, we do need a new kitchen! 😀 )

OK, on with the show. Here are the prices of the paper towels at my local grocery store:

Bounty: 138 sheets per roll (63.2 square feet) $2.19/roll
price per sheet: 1.590 cents

Store Brand: 90 sheets per roll (75.6 square feet) $1.79/roll
price per sheet: 1.990 cents

First off, you can see that Bounty is less expensive when you are going per sheet. Yet the Store Brand has fewer sheets and more square feet per roll. How can this be? Well, the Bounty roll has smaller sheets. As a matter of fact, the Bounty sheets are half the size of the Store Brand sheets. And even though there is more square footage with the Store Brand roll, the Bounty roll is bulkier and thicker. The Store Brand sheets are thinner and resemble the paper napkins you get at McDonald’s– kind of rough and stiff; the Bounty sheets are much thicker and have a cloth-like feel to them. You’ll also notice that the Store Brand sheets have pretty butterflies. Not to be influenced by pretty pink and blue butterflies, I purged that from my mind and concentrated solely on the important matter at hand: which was a better deal?

Papertowels 3

Judging thus the consistency and thickness of the sheets, I predict that the Bounty roll will absorb more liquid into a denser area, whereas the Store Brand will cause the liquid to expand out into the sheet more. Now for the experiment!

I decided to set globs of soy sauce on my counter to test each sheet. I’ll have you know that I wasted .047711 cents of soy sauce right there. Consider it my sacrifice for science.

Papertowels 4

And why do scientists use the same ol’ boring circles of liquid mess? I decided to make my liquid messes in the shape of Mickey Mouse for added human interest to our rather sterile and impartial scientific experiment. (Here’s hoping Disney doesn’t sue me for copyright infringement).

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Ah, so here you see the sheets at work. They performed much as I hypothesized they would. Bounty picks up the liquid in a denser area; the Store Brand splays out the liquid. That line you see in the Store Brand sheet is the “glue” line that holds the sheet to the roll. It is always on the first 3 or 4 sheets of a new roll. Bounty doesn’t have that line, btw. I lifted up the sheets to see which sheet was more absorbent.

Below you will see how the Store Brand sheet performed. It didn’t absorb as much of the liquid. When I lifted the sheet, the liquid dripped off the sheet and back onto the counter.

Papertowels 8

The Bounty sheet absorbed much more of the liquid. You can also see that more of the sheet is saturated with soy sauce.

Papertowels 6

To be honest, I was surprised that the Bounty sheet picked up so much and the Store Brand picked up so little. I ended my experiment by sopping up every bit of the liquid that I could and comparing the sheets.

Papertowels 7

Hmmm. So my conclusion is that Bounty paper towels are actually a better deal. The roll itself is more expensive than the Store Brand, but there are more Bounty sheets per roll. Despite that there is less square footage than the Store Brand, the Bounty sheet performed better than the Store Brand. So, my final conclusions in table form:

More expensive per roll, at $2.19/roll
Less expensive per sheet, at 1.590 cents
More sheets per roll, at 138 sheets
Fewer square footage per sheet and per roll, at 63.2 square feet per roll
Performs better than Store Brand

Store Brand:
Less expensive per roll, at $1.79/roll
More expensive per sheet, at 1.990 cents
Fewer sheets per roll, at 90 sheets
More square footage per sheet and per roll, at 75.6 square feet
Not as good a deal as the Bounty roll

Thus concludes my great experiment. I hope you have found this information profitable in some way. You probably won’t get rich saving all that money on Bounty paper towels, but you may be able to buy an extra jar of soy sauce after a few months.

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14 Responses to “The Paper Towel Duel”

  1. Carole Says:

    Gosh, that was very interesting. I haven’t been bothering to save my Bounty coupons because the store brand was still cheaper (even if I used the coupon), but with a coupon I guess the Bounty would really actually be a good deal! Thanks for sacrificing your soy sauce for the greater good. 🙂

  2. Heidi Says:

    okay this fascinated me for some reason. I try to be frugal and buy the less expensive but now I see the error of my ways. Thanks-Bounty here I come.

  3. Lola Says:

    When I first discovered the Bounty ‘Select-A-Size’ I made it a regular at my house. I know they’re more expensive, but I figured I would use less, because they are more absorbant and you use basically a 1/2 sheet most of the time. I figure I save money in the end.

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  5. Karen C. Says:

    I like the Bounty better too. Sometimes I don’t need the full size sheet for whatever the mess is, and I like the half size Bounty – less paper waste.

  6. SG Entrepreneur Says:

    Hahhaha, this is a great experiment! Bounty definitely wins hands down. Score one for real bargains.

  7. chilly Says:

    Nice job on the test. 🙂 I rather have Bounty myself.

    Hi There my friend! Just stopping in to wish you guys a Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂 (((HUGS)))

  8. GumbyTheCat Says:

    I’m glad you went with the paper towel test. I would not have enjoyed reading about a toilet paper test 🙂

  9. Rhonda Says:

    Your comparison was very interesting to read! I had stopped purchasing the store brands because I noticed they never seemed to work as effectively. I have found Viva paper towels seem to work better for me than Bounty, but I’ve never tried them next to each other. I might have to give that a try!

  10. reyna Says:

    thank you i needed that for my science fair

  11. reyna Says:

    i could do my science fair without that but i am using salt and water

  12. Cam Says:

    Oh! I loved your experiment! I especially LOVED how you worded it!
    I also think that the joke about the money/spending was genius. You not only helped me with my experiment, but helped me with my personal humor! :> )! I am 11 years old and live in CA with my mom, dad, sister, and little brother. You brightened my day! Thanks a MILLION!

    p.s. I hope your renovation goes well. Even painting my room, a task that my mother hasn’t yet finished ( ‘been waiting for three months…) , is hard in these tough times!

  13. Joan Graham Says:

    I purchased 6 rolls of these paper towel decorator and they are terrible. I have never been so disapointed .. They are all stuck together with some kind of glue. I thought you needed to know. Joan 0raham 675 Lake Henry Lane Winter Haven Florida 33881 8632949290

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Sorry to hear, Joan! It sounds like something happened to the rolls during the manufacturing process. Maybe you can write the company and they can make good on it.