Frugal or Foolish: Paper towels

Frugal or Foolish?  Is it better to get the cheap paper towels or the more expensive ones for everyday use?

Brian and I use paper towels for meals and occasionally cleaning.  We’ve always bought the Shopper’s Durg Mart Life brand paper towels because they’re incredibly cheap.  When on sale, you can get 8 rolls for $2.50 or less.  At 40 sheets per roll, that’s 0.78 cents per sheet.  And, being frugal and environmentally friendly, Brian and I usually tear a sheet in half and only use one half at a time.  That brings the cost down to 0.39 cents per use.

Life Brand Paper Towels

A co-worker of mine found our paper-towel-tearing routine hilarious and insisted that we try the Bounty Select-A-Size rolls.  He even brought over a trial roll.  :/

Though I feel like I am being mocked (at least a little) I was willing to give it a try.  Admittedly, it was nice to tear off a sheet without having to fiddle with making my own tear.  Aaaaand it was nice not having little half pieces of paper towels floating around waiting to be used.

First off, the Bounty rolls can get expensive – more than $3 a roll is common.  However, you can buy a set of 8 rolls for around $15 when they are on sale at places like Costco.  And the rolls are ginormous!  At 210 sheets per roll, it works out to be 0.94 cents per sheet.


So on first glance, it is a bit more expensive.  But I soon discovered that the Bounty sheets were a lot thicker and more durable than the Life brand paper towels we had been using.  As a result, Brian and I end up only needing to use a half of a half sheet for most meals.  And when we are cleaning, the Bounty sheets are actually durable enough to be rinsed and re-used at least twice during a cleaning session.  As a result, that brings the cost down to 0.47 cents per use – and sometimes less, depending on the cleaning job.

Verdict: Yeah, yeah… Here’s a case where buying the cheaper version doesn’t seem to make sense and one of the cheap items you shouldn’t purchase. I think Brian and I will upgrade to the more expensive paper towels, at least when we can get them on sale at Costco (or elsewhere).  It’s much more convenient to have a small size piece to tear off and they are much, much sturdier.

Oh, as a final note, Costco has a killer return policy, so even if you don’t like their paper towels, you can always take them back.

If they are not on sale, then I think we’ll still get the cheap paper towels.

Posted in: Minimalism and Frugality

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