Restroom Paper Towel Types; a Visual Reference Guide


Many types of paper towels are used in restrooms. It is easy to get them confused, or forget their names. Here is a quick summary of the main types of restroom paper towels.

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An older style of paper towel, singlefolds are not often found in restrooms today. Sheets are folded in half and dispensed from a shoe-box sized container. Approximate folded size: 5.63" x 9.25".


Modern dispensers allow multifold towels to dispense one at a time with a "touch-free" tail exposed. Multifold dispensers can be "topped off" when a custodian visits the restroom. Standard dispensers hold two to two and a half sleeves. Approximate folded size: 9.50" x 3.25". 


A variation on the multifold towel is the interleaved towel. The last folded third of one towel is inserted into the next towel in the stack. Towels like the Optifold(R) from Wausau, are often somewhat wider than standard multifolds, providing more drying area. Sizes vary somewhat depending on manufacturer. These subtle differences make it important to pair the right dispenser with the right towel for better dispensing.   


Interfolded towels are an SCA innovation. Some designs are continuous folded sheets with periodic perforations so towels can be pulled from the top of a dispenser. As the towel is pulled against the edge of the opening, tension breaks it at the perforation. Another of the SCA towels achieves this top dispensing by being interfolded. The leading edge of the next towel is left at the opening ready to be pulled.


C-Folds open from the center. They are often made extra thick for upscale applications. The C-fold design is harder to pull from a dispenser, so sometimes they are stacked in baskets on counters. With this uncontrolled method, users often drop some towels and which can be wasteful. Approximate folded size: 10.25" x 3.25". 


Kitchen towels are the least appropriate for restrooms, and can be expensive in-use. Dispensers are generally completely open and exposed to wet hands, creating hygiene issues. Kitchen roll towels have a tendency to be pulled off the pegs of the dispenser, and because they can be used anywhere may end up doing other tasks, leaving the restroom with no towels. Roll are relatively short and must be replaced frequently. Their main advantage would be absorbency, although many hard wound rolls now offer similar wicking capabilities. Kitchen rolls vary widely in thickness, sheet size and length.


Also known as "hardwound," roll towels have improved over the past decade. Many are soft and absorbent. Economy in-use is an important advantage roll towels provide. Some of the dispensers for roll towels control the length and timing of paper release. Bay West and SCA have excellent roll towel systems. You may trial a roll-towel dispenser through PUR-O-ZONE on your own restroom, breakroom or kitchen walls. (In most areas of Kansas and western Missouri.) Sizes: Most roll towels are 8" in width. Common lengths include 325', 600' and 800'. Each towel is cut to length by the dispenser according to factory or user-set choices.


Pulled from the center of the roll instead of being unrolled from the outside, center pull towels are perforated. The towels break by tension applied against the perfs as they are pulled out. Performance depends on dispenser "nozzle" condition. Length of towel perforation varies, but is often between 9" and12". This length is set at the factory by the machine applying the perforations.  In-use, center pull towels tend to be more expensive than roll and sheet alternatives. Sizes: Many center pull towels are 8" x 600', although lengths vary.