cloth towels vs paper towels

Both paper towels and cloth towels have been implemented in common household and workplace hygiene stations for quite some time. Each product offers its own set of benefits and shortcomings. However, regarding practicality, cost-effectiveness, and environmental impact, there has been an ongoing dispute between the superiority of cloth towels over paper towels. Depending on your desired industry and towel need, your business may have a harder decision choosing between the two. In the content below, we discuss benefits and considerations involved in the cloth towels vs paper towels debate.

Cloth Towels

Cloth towels and mechanic rags are widely known for multi-use functionality, manufactured with longevity in mind. However, one of the greatest arguments against cotton towels is cleanliness when working with metal deposits, oils, and grease. With the risk of inconvenience and higher sanitation upkeep, will your business still see sustainable value?



With thin layers, paper towels can only absorb so much, even if you purchase a brand promising the highest level of absorbency. Cloth towels made of cotton are manufactured to handle heavier spills in your shop. Due to a cloth towel’s strong absorbance rate, you can use it numerous times before it begins to lose its ability to collect dirt and moisture. Unlike paper towels, you can even wring out excess liquid from a cloth towel and continue using the towel for future applications before laundering it. However, depending on the material types used in both paper and cloth towel products, a paper towel could absorb spills better than cloth products.


Similar to how cloth towels typically offer greater absorbance than traditional paper towels, cloth towel durability is equally unmatchable. Due to the longevity of cotton over paper, you can rest assured that your shop towels are ready to clean your workspace time and time again. Once you notice that a shop towel is used to its full cleaning potential, you can simply run it through the wash and begin using it again in your shop. You can’t do that with paper towels.


For those looking for a long-term investment, purchase cloth towels for your shop. Though cloth towels require an investment up front, their multi-use functionality will later spare you in lifetime costs with general washing.


If your shop considers its environmental footprint, switching from paper to cloth shop towels greatly benefits both you and the earth. Cotton shop towels and their multi-use functionality reduce the number of trees cut down each year to produce single-use paper towels and prevents the increase in accumulating waste in landfills. Even if you previously purchased recycled paper towels, which are more environmentally friendly than traditional paper towels, cloth towels are an additional step towards sustainable shop towels. 



Laundering your cloth towels may not seem like a hassle. However, if you fail to maintain a consistent washing schedule of your towels, you could run the risk of needing a fresh towel and not having any available. Circulating cloth towels used for oils and flammable solvents can quickly become a fire hazard if left in a pile or bin over time. For this reason, some shops utilize paper towels to reduce the risk of a fire hazard. If you decide to use cloth towels in your shop, create a laundering schedule according to your needs.

Paper Towels

Designed for single-use applications, paper roll towels were created with convenience and sanitation in mind.



With paper towels, you can enjoy the convenience of having hundreds of two-ply sheets in a single roll ready for use. Additionally, you have the freedom to determine how much towel is needed to clean your workspace by tearing at your selected perforation. Furthermore, once finished with the towels, you can simply discard them in a trash bin in lieu of placing them in a pile to launder later.

High Sanitation Standards

Consider the paper towels used for your mechanic or repair shop. Though you may effectively clean spills with cloth towels, your supply of clean and ready-to-use towels quickly diminishes. In the event where a cloth towel replaces paper towels in your shop, you would need to continually replace the cloth towels with a freshly washed and sanitized set.

Though cleaning spills is paramount to maintaining cleanliness in the workplace, effectively drying auto parts is equally crucial. Using cloth towels over time can leave the cloth damp and less efficient when cleaning engine components. Additionally, cloth towels can introduce contaminants to freshly cleaned parts, even if the towel was freshly laundered. Furthermore, as parts of the engine are re-assembled, it’s essential that they are entirely free of debris or other impurities. Therefore, implementing single-use paper towels for your shop results in a more thorough and effective workplace cleaning experience.


Environmental Impact

Did you know that 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used and thrown away every year, just in the United States alone? Though paper towel manufacturers continually create more environmentally friendly products, you ultimately discard each towel after use. In lieu of using long-lasting cloth towels, utilizing paper towels requires repetitive ordering, although they sell at lower prices. To create a better balance of purchasing sustainable products and having a convenient supply of towels, consider utilizing both cotton and paper towels, according to your shop’s needs!


When looking for towels to use at your shop or for any other heavy-duty application, a paper towel may not be the best product for your needed application. Though paper towels are excellent for quick spills and hand-drying, they are intended for single-use and can tear or deteriorate under heavy applications.

Find the Right Products for Your Business Needs at Discount Shop Towels

Regardless which product you find superior to the other, we are here to supply towel products for your business needs. At Discount Shop Towels, we are a leading supplier dedicated to supplying high-quality shop towels and a variety of other products at fair costs.

Specializing in e-commerce, our goal is to provide you with the best prices available and a secure website so you can shop knowing your transaction will be secure and easy. Whether your company is searching for bulk orders and one-month supply quantities, our experts will help you find the right product for your shop needs. To learn more or inquire about any of our other offered products, contact us today!

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