How to Choose the Right Paper Towels For Your Facility

There are various types of paper towels offered in commercial restrooms, each carrying its own advantages and disadvantages compared to others. This article explores how to choose the right kind of paper towels for your facility.


As their name implies, multi-fold towels (also called Z-fold) are folded twice. This folding method allows the towels to interfold within the dispenser. When a guest pulls a towel out of the dispenser, the next in the stack is presented to them.

Multi-fold towels offer two main advantages, the first being that they are dispensed in an open position. Although they are relatively small towels to begin with, their entire surface area is immediately available to dry a guest’s hands.

The second advantage is multi-fold towels can only be dispensed one at a time. If reducing paper waste is a goal for your facility, multi-fold towels may help you accomplish it.

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C-fold (centerfold) towels are another common type of paper towel. Unlike multi-fold towels, these have been folded in half and then creased twice to make the titular C-shape. When placed in a dispenser, they stack on top of one another and do not interlock.

On our Paper Goods Usage by Industry chart you’ll notice that the amount of C-fold towels needed per 1,000 guests is higher than the amount of multi-fold towels needed. That’s due to the fact that C-fold towels are dispensed in a closed position.

While they offer a large surface area when unfolded, many guests don’t take the time to do so and prefer to grab a number of towels instead. They may even be able to pull out several at a time by pinching the towels out of the dispenser.

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Hardwound (HRT) towels are large, cylinder-shaped rolls that are loaded into a dispenser on a spool. Depending on the dispenser you choose, these towels can be dispensed automatically or manually by guests. Going the automatic route is a great way to help reduce the potential for cross-contamination.

Much like multi-fold towels, the advantage of hardwound towels is that they are presented to the guest with their entire surface area available for use. Less paper waste is generated, and because guests are using 100% of each towel many facilities consider these to be a cost-efficient paper towel option.

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While hardwound towels are cost-effective, you may want to consider the speed at which they are dispensed. If your bathrooms are single-use or low-traffic, guests are willing to wait while the towel is dispensed for them. In high-traffic public restrooms, however, guests want to grab towels quickly and be on their way. This is where multi-fold and C-fold towels shine.

The choice between multi-fold and C-fold comes down to a matter of convenience versus potential waste. While C-fold towels are typically larger than multi-fold towels, they require the guest unfold them to take advantage of the entire surface area. Multi-fold towels present their entire surface area when they’re dispensed, so guests aren’t as likely to grab quite as many. Of course, the amount of paper waste from either variety can be offset by using eco-friendly towels.

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View our Paper Goods Usage by Industry chart to learn how many paper towels your facility needs.

Paper Goods Usage Chart

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