Are Napkins and Paper Towels the Same? What Are The Differences?

Napkins and paper towels are products made of paper.

Their uses may be similar, but their performance is not.

So, Are Napkins and Paper Towels the Same?

No. Napkins and paper towels  aren’t the same. Paper towels are more absorbent and can quickly absorb spilled soups, juices or water. Paper towels are woven together paper. So, liquid can easily travel via the layers, making them effective in absorbing spillages. But napkins aren’t made this way. Therefore, they may not be as absorbent as towels. Let’s talk more about their differences.

What Are Paper Towels?

Paper towels are the biggest in size among paper products used for hand wiping.

Some popular brands manufacturing them include

  • Viva
  • Scott
  • Basic
  • and Bounty.

They don’t have a standard size, so you may find them in different sizes depending on the manufacturer.

However, the common size is 11 x 11 inches bigger than the normal scrap paper sheet.

But you can get half a sheet size from some brands. These are the same height, only that the width is half smaller.

Paper towels are the most absorbent compared to other products in this category.

You’ll Likely come across advertising messages like “30% more absorbent” or “tough when wet.” These products are suitable for wiping heavy spills.

They are mostly used for cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, and mirrors. You can also use them to wipe the tables.

Some people use paper towels as napkins during a meal to wipe hands, mouth or any spills on the dinner table.

But for this purpose, it’s best to choose the smaller paper towels.

What Are Napkins?

Napkins, like paper towels, are used at the dinner table during meals.

You can use them to wipe your hands, mouth and spills on your plate.

Napkins come in different types, including;

1. Regular Paper Napkins

Most paper towel brands also sell these napkins.

They are cheap and usually sold in bulk pages ranging from 250 to 500. These napkins are often soft, small in size and absorbent.

2. Cloth Napkins

Some people call them table lines. You will mostly find them in fancy restaurants, but some people also have them at home and use them on special occasions.

The rule of thumb is to place these napkins on your lap when eating. Then place them on the table once you finish.

3. Party Napkins

As you guessed, they are used during parties or special occasions.

You will often find a wide variety of paper napkins in different patterns and colors.

You may even find that they have a movie character, symbols for a certain holiday, special phrases and words. People usually choose these napkins depending on the theme of the occasion.

They are loved as they are colorful and a nice way of enticing guests.

However, party napkins are mainly designed for decorations, not  cleaning messes.

Which Are Better; Napkins or Paper Towels?

Well, it depends on which aspects you’re looking at.

If you want a product that easily absorbs liquid spillages, paper towels are more suitable, thanks to how they are made.

However, paper towels are expensive mostly because they feature a higher production cost.

Therefore, consumers are forced to pay more for these products.

On the other hand, napkins may not be that absorbent, but they are cheaper.

Remember that paper towels are mostly packaged in a roll while napkins are folded in a square shape.

So the packaging allows manufacturers to pack more towels than napkins in the same package size.

Paper Towels vs. Paper Napkins vs. Cloth Napkins

When choosing these products, you should think of certain things to help you make the best decision.

Most people consider the price and will often go for the cheapest option.

However, how environmentally friendly and hygienic a product is should also come into play when deciding which one to buy.

According to most experts, cloth napkins are the best so far.

They may be expensive when buying them for the first time, but will save you money in the long run.

You only need to wash them regularly to keep them healthy to use.

Additionally, these napkins are good for the environment, since they are reusabl.

On the other hand, paper towels and paper napkins may be cheaper at first.

But you can’t reuse them, meaning you will have to buy them every time the pack expires. Again, paper use is not good for the planet earth.

So, if you are concerned about reducing your carbon footprint, paper towels and napkins are not the best options for you.

What is the Cost of Paper Napkins, Paper Towels and Cloth Napkins?

Assuming that there are four people in your household and each person uses 2 napkins per day, that would make 2920 napkins per year.

And let’s say you buy a pack from a brand that sells 500 pieces at 20 dollars. You will roughly use $116 per year.

When it comes to paper towels, Amazon’s Subscribe suggests that a family of 2-4 people can use 16 rolls in 7 to 8 months.

So, say you are living four members in your house, and you use 2 rolls per month, so that means you will need 24 rolls per year.

Assuming that one roll sells at $25, your average expenditure on paper towels per year would be $600.

Cloth napkins are the most cost-effective.

We use the same example of four members in a household, and each person needs four napkins. Most napkins are sold in a pack of 12.

So, assuming that you buy two packs at 30 dollars. You get 24 napkins, meaning one napkin is sold at approximately $1.25.

Remember that each napkin can last as long as five years. So, multiply the price of one napkin and the number of napkins a person uses, that is 4.

You get a total of $5 which, if you multiply by 5 years, you get $25.

What’s a Good Paper Towel Substitute?

Cloth napkins are the best alternative for paper towels, but might not be suitable for you.

Thankfully, there are still other excellent options you can explore like;

1. Bamboo Paper Towels

Paper used in these towels comes from bamboo and not trees. So, they are environmentally friendly compared to regular paper towels.

2. Hand Dryers

These are mostly found in commercial restrooms. But you can also use them in your home. Hand dryers use electricity to dry hands.

Unlike paper towels, they are better for the environment since they don’t use trees. Plus, they leave no clutter. They are also fast, hygienic and need low maintenance costs.

Other replacements include a microfiber cleaning cloth, pop-up sponges, cotton towels, linen bread bags, beeswax wrap and Swedish dishcloths.