Last Updated: December 29, 2022

7 best eco-friendly paper towels.

WRITTEN BY Grove Collaborative • 14 min read

These days, deforestation, global warming, and waste pileup are some very serious issues, and even though paper towels typically have a smaller-sized carbon footprint, they still are contributing to these larger-scale issues. Choosing eco-friendly paper towels in your home makes a huge difference. If you usually use around two rolls a month at home, in the long run, that’s really adding up over time. There are many options out there for making the sustainable swap in your home, whether you use paper towels in the kitchen or for cleaning the house (or for both).

Check out what made our list of the best eco-friendly paper towels and see some of the best paper towels like these Seedling by Grove Tree-Free 2-Ply Paper Towels or some of the best reusable paper towels, too, like these Seedling by Grove Reusable Paper Towels.

This list of products was determined by ratings and reviews from Grove members.

1. Grove Co. Swedish Dishcloths - Lemons

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A reusable sponge cloth to clean up spills and messes, providing a more eco-friendly alternative to paper towels and sponges.

    Our European Dish Cloth is highly-absorbent and durable, soaking up spills or cleaning messes from any household surface. Available in two prints: a cheerful lemon pattern and an arc pattern …

Set of 2
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2. Marley's Monsters Vintage Lemons Rolled UNpaper® Towels

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For the best unpaper towels around, rely on Marley’s Monster Vintage Lemons Rolled UNpaper® Towels. These pre rolled unpaper towels give your home an eco-friendly way to clean up the kitchen, bathroom, or other areas you’d usually use paper towels in. Plus, these reusable cloths come wrapped around a carboard tube that'll fit with most paper towel …

12 pack
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3. Grove Co. Tree-Free Reusable Paper Towels - 100% Bamboo

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100% tree-free reusable paper towels made from sustainable bamboo fibers that can be used and reused up to 1 week. Plastic-free and crafted to be sustainably powerful for a healthy home and planet. .

    Made of FSC-certified bamboo fibers, our ultra-durable tree-free reusable paper towels are both strong and …
1 Roll - 20 Sheets
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4. Seventh Generation Unbleached Paper Towels

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When life gets a little messy, you can count on Seventh Generation Natural Paper Towels (6pk) to lend a helping hand. These Seventh Generation unbleached paper towels absorb spills quickly, even when wet, while giving you yet another way to reduce your household's impact on the environment. These compostable, 2-ply towels are made from unbleached, …

6 Count
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5. Marley's Monsters Rainbow Rolled Unpaper® Towels

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Make the swap from paper towels to a sustainable alternative with these Marley's Monsters Rainbow Rolled Unpaper® Towels. These Marleys Monsters unpaper towels are sewn from 100% flannel and easy to use for tackling kitchen tasks or cleaning everyday messes. After you use them all, you can just throw them in the wash and reroll for your next round …

12 pack
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6. Seventh Generation Paper Towel

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Seventh Generation Paper Towel (6pk) can help you clean up your green routine in an instant, all while tackling life's little messes. These hardworking, 2-ply Seventh Generation paper towels white absorb spills quickly, even when wet, helping to reduce your impact on the environment. Whitened without the use of chlorine bleach, these recycled paper …

6 Rolls, 140 Sheets
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7. Grove Co. Tree-Free Paper Towels - 100% Bamboo

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100% tree-free paper towels made from sustainable bamboo fibers in strong, absorbent 2-ply sheets. Plastic-free and crafted to be sustainably powerful for a healthy home and planet.

Made of FSC-certified bamboo fibers, our 2-ply tree-free paper towels are proven to be stronger than recycled paper towels* and …

140 sheets per roll
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Which paper towel absorbs the best?

Although at Grove we don’t play favorites and we can’t say which brand is the number-one best paper towels brand out there, we do offer a wide selection of paper towel products that we think are pretty supurb (and absorb quite nicely, too). From unbleached paper towels to tree-free paper towels, and even some of the best reusable paper towels around, there are many options to pick from on Grove Collaborative. We try to make it easy to find what works the best for your own household, while still being able to use a better alternative for the planet as well.

Some other towel options that are great at mopping up messes include the Grove Co. Kitchen Towels, Grove Co. European Dish Cloths, and the Marley's Monsters Rainbow Rolled Unpaper® Towels. If you’re still searching around a bit, take a look above at our list of the best eco-friendly paper towels too.

Are paper towels recyclable?

Paper towels have long been an environmental nightmare to say the least, and that’s because both used and unused paper towels can’t be recycled. We know, with “paper” in the name that can seem a bit confusing as we’re always told to recycle paper, but paper towels (even the best paper towels) are made from fibers that are too short to be made into new paper.

If you’ve had sustainability on the brain and want to make a swap in your home for a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional paper towels, we suggest trying something like our Seedling by Grove Reusable Paper Towels or the Marley's Monsters Vintage Lemons Rolled Unpaper® Towels. It may be hard at first to make the swap, but in the end, it’s worth it. (Just keep trying!)

Can you flush paper towels?

Through the pandemic times of toilet paper shortages or even just any time where you run out of toilet paper and haven’t gotten your monthly Grove box yet, you may wonder if flushing paper towels down your toilet is okay. The answer is absolutely not — never flush paper towels down the toilet.

If you do use them, you can throw them in a waste basket, or even put them in a bag and bring them outside to the garbage right away. Plumbers warn people not to flush paper towels, and mostly it’s because they don’t dissolve quickly in water like toilet paper does. This can cause your toilet to back up afterward — what a headache!

On that note, never get left on the pot without paper — stock up on toilet paper and other household items easily on Grove. You can even plan out your product subscriptions ahead of time, so they automatically get popped in your cart when you want them to.

Can you put paper towels in the microwave?

A lot of people may not know this, but yes, it’s safe to put most paper towels into the microwave — keep a lookout for the best paper towels and most likely those will be okay and microwave-safe. Many people, especially people who are in a hurry and use their microwave to make food for meals, will cover some of their food (like soup or pasta sauce) with a paper towel before they place it in the microwave, so it doesn’t splatter while heating up. If you’ve decided paper towels in the microwave are something you want to do, try setting the timer for shorter periods, so you can go back and check to make sure everything is okay.

Some really popular foods to place in the microwave (and to use paper towels with) include the following:

  • Baked potatoes
  • Hot dogs
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Oatmeal
  • Eggs
  • Corn
  • Bacon

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