PhotoWe sometimes think life must be pretty exciting over at Consumer Reports.  They get to test all those neat, exotic products ... like, you know, paper towels.

The venerable magazine put 23 towels through their paces, testing for absorption, scrubbing, and wet strength.  Some good news: consumers don’t have to pay big bucks for good paper towels.

The top paper towel is plain Bounty, with a score of 90 (Don’t confuse it with its lower-scoring brand mate, Bounty Basic, which earned a 66 in CR’s tests). 

In second place was Bounty Extra Soft with a score of 84. It lost a few points due to its performance on wet strength, which measures the force required to pull a section of paper towel apart when it’s wet.  In third place, Target’s Up & Up Eastern version. The Western version, from a different supplier, didn’t perform as well.

Prices for paper towels range widely, says the report, available in the January issue of Consumer Reports and online at  Consumers can pay as little as $1.46 or as much as $5.12 per 100 square feet.  

The report notes that Walmart’s Great Value paper towels cost $1.82 per 100 square feet and were very good. Costco’s Kirkland Signature paper towels also performed well and were the cheapest ones tested.

Why pay more?

A pricy paper towel isn’t necessarily going to be good at slurping up holiday messes.  Earth Friendly Products, one of the priciest paper towels, were the lowest rated of all, with a score of 26.

Do green claims make a difference? The report points out that there are currently few or no governmental regulations for many of the “green” claims on paper towels.  But “recycled” claims do have some merit, so it’s a good idea to look for a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content. 

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