How Do They Make Paper Towels?

make-paper-towels Credit: Mike Mozart/CC-BY-2.0

Paper towels are made just like any other form of paper, from either trees, wood chips, sawdust or recycled paper that is mixed with water to soak. The mixture is then mashed and stirred to form a mush of fibers called pulp, which eventually becomes the paper towels.

Bleach is added at the pulp stage to make white paper towels while a variety of dyes can be added to make colored towels. Brown can even be added to off-colored pulp to give it a natural look. The pulp is then sprayed onto screens to allow water to drain off. The remaining pulp fibers stick to each other on the screen to make a mat, which is squeezed through felt rollers to extract even more water.

The huge sheets of wet pulp are then passed through several cycles of heated rollers, which further binds the fibers together and dries the mat into sheets of paper. The sheets are then cut to size, perforated and rolled onto cardboard tubes. The cellulose in the plant fibers is what makes paper towels absorbent. The absorbency of the particular towels depends on its thickness. Paper towels can be made in a single layer, known as one-ply, or double-layered, known as two-ply. Some towels are even three-ply.