Have you ever heard of bamboo paper towels? They are a bamboo version of a paper towel, but they’re actually paperless and tree-free.
Normal paper towels are made from cellulose–a blend of wood, cotton, and other plants– whereas bamboo paper towels are made from bamboo.
Bamboo paper towels are generally more durable than their cellulose counterparts, and can even be reusable. So reusable in fact, that many brands are machine washable!
Both cellulose and bamboo are biodegradable resources.
Read on to learn more about some of the reasons you’d want to choose bamboo paper towels over their tree-made counterparts. And, of course, see my top picks by category.
Benefits of Bamboo Paper Towels
Why are you seeing so many bamboo paper towel companies popping up at your go-to retailer? Are they really that much better than regular paper towels?
Yes. They are more durable, longer-lasting, and generally more environmentally friendly. As a bonus, they also do well with cleaning windows.
What are bamboo paper towels exactly?
Bamboo paper towels aren’t actually paper towels. They don’t source paper at all. And though sources and materials differ with manufacturers and brands, many of the bamboo paper towel products featured in this article are sourced from 100% bamboo.
Some manufacturers opt to mix bamboo with other eco-friendly materials like sugarcane or corn starch, for example, to make the sheets softer and more malleable.
Why is that important? Why are eco-friendly bamboo paper towels better than regular paper towels?
Well, there are actually several reasons you might favor newer bamboo paper towels over traditional paper towels made from cellulose! Cellulose is a blend of wood, cotton, and other plants. Here are five great reasons to make the switch:
Bamboo Regenerates Every Few Months
According to the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization, Bamboo is a much faster-growing resource than trees.
In fact, bamboo grows so fast that certain species of the 45 genera of bamboo hold the world record for the fastest-growing plant.
Bamboo grows back in about 3 months. That’s a few months compared to the 20 years it could take for a tree to grow back.
And because bamboo self-regenerates, it doesn’t need to be replanted. It’s considered a renewable resource.
While we’re on the topic of bamboo paper towels, do be sure to check out our article on bamboo fabric towels for your bath and kitchen.
Bamboo Is Biodegradable
Bamboo is 100% natural. Like, comes straight from the ground naturally.
According to Bioplastics Magazine, bamboo is low-carbon, recyclable, biobased, and biodegradable.
The decomposition process doesn’t cause harm to the environment.
And according to Natural Life Magazine, bamboo is biodegradable in soil by microorganisms and sunshine.
Bamboo Is More Absorbent Than Regular Paper Towels
This YouTube video by BigGreenSmile compares the absorbency of bamboo towels to paper towels. The bamboo paper towels brand used was Ecoegg.
Bamboo is the clear winner. It’s way more absorbent. And the Eco egg towels outperformed the unnamed paper towels in all categories.
As you can see in the video, the standard paper towel that was used in the demo was drenched in the red demo liquid and still left remaining liquid in the cup. But, the reusable bamboo towel by Ecoegg absorbed all of the demo liquid inside the cup and left no red liquid behind.
Some Bamboo Paper Towels Are Washable and Reusable
Wait, are bamboo paper towels really reusable?!
Yes! Some bamboo paper towel brands can be reused and hand washed. Many can be machine washed and used again and again.
It’s quite durable. So much so that bamboo is starting to gain traction as a replacement to many products on the market that are currently being made using harmful plastics.
That’s how strong bamboo can be.
In doing research for this article, I discovered that bamboo is actually one of the strongest materials on the planet!
According to Interesting Engineering, bamboo has a tensile strength of 28,000 pounds — that’s 5,000 pounds more tensile strength than steel!
I had no idea that bamboo was that strong. Bamboo is even being used for reinforcement in civil engineering as an alternative to steel, according to Engineering Discoveries.
The sturdy quality of bamboo makes it a reliable alternative to more easily tearable paper products, as in the case of traditional paper towels.
What’s cool about bamboo towels is that many of them can be used in a variety of ways and get such a long lifespan–depending on the brand and makeup of materials.
Some towel companies suggest you wash your disposable bamboo towels in the washing machine a few times. Those are the thicker, more durable towels that have many uses in them before they reach the end of their lifespan.
So, if you were comparing bamboo towels to paper towels and thinking that they cost more… nope! They may initially be more expensive than their paper towel counterparts, but you’re probably not accounting for their reusability. If you do, bamboo towels are actually much cheaper.
Think of it as a slight investment upfront. If you buy bamboo towels that are reusable and re-washable, you’ll actually save money by switching to bamboo.
If you previously gave them a quick glance and thought they were too expensive, think again. They’re actually more budget-friendly.
Bamboo Conserves Water
According to Natural Life Magazine, bamboo has relatively low water needs compared to cotton and other crops. When compared to trees, bamboo is also said to take in more carbon dioxide–in addition to producing more oxygen.
Clean water is a limited resource. And with droughts occurring worldwide, access to clean water is becoming more and more important. According to FreshWater Watch, only 2.5% of the earth’s water is freshwater. Bamboo helps conserve water by needing less to grow.
Best Bamboo Paper Towels
Depends on what you’re looking for. Though, as a consumer of bamboo paper towels myself, I do have my personal preferences.
I go on in this article to cover a variety of options and brands. If you’re looking for a paper towel replacement that’s specific to your needs, I’ve created a “best of” recommendation list broken down by categories.
Find something below that lights you up.
Best Overall – Grove Tree-Free 2-Ply Paper Towels
Material: bamboo viscose
I love Grove! I’ve been buying from Grove for a few years now and can personally vouch for them through my experience of their product line and customer service.
I highly recommend Grove across the board. They are a wonderful retailer and are my go-to, one-stop-shop to get eco-friendly cleaning hauls. Grove has a large selection of products to choose from and offers free shipping with purchases exceeding $29.
Grove has a membership plan, for those of you looking to be frequent buyers. Recently, Grove started working with Target to bring a few of their items to Target stores. Unfortunately, for now, their partnership products exclude these reusable bamboo paper.
I appreciate Grove’s more natural product selections and love their waste-conscious packaging. They also make buying from them fun! They throw in a free gift with your purchase from time to time and I honestly look forward to seeing what they recommend.
It’s worth mentioning that they’re a great company whose ethics are as impressive as their products.
I’ve found that Grove is always finding new ways to be of service to larger communities while providing individual homes with eco-friendly cleaning products and traditional cleaning product alternatives.
For example, the making of this reusable bamboo towel product kept sustainability in mind. Trees are being saved due to consumers making the switch from trees to bamboo.
But also, with the purchase of these bamboo paper towels, trees aren’t just being saved. They’re also being planted and added to the ecosystem.
With every purchase of these Grove Reusable Paper Towels, proceeds are sent towards planting trees. Grove has a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, a nonprofit conservation and education organization that is dedicated to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. For every 50 rolls of Seedling paper towels sold, one tree is planted.
Another big win for this product —these paper towel rolls aren’t wrapped or packaged in wasteful plastic! HUGE DEAL.
These Seedling by Grove Reusable Paper Towels are zero-waste, reusable, ethical, 2-ply, panda friendly, consciously packaged, 100% tree-free, and made from 100% pesticide-free bamboo.
Best Budget – Caboo Paper Towel Pack (Target)
Material: bamboo and sugarcane
Caboo paper towels are also made from both bamboo and sugarcane.
Like Grove, Caboo uses only panda-friendly bamboo to create its products.
One pack contains 115 sheets. Each pack contains two rolls.
Best Antibacterial – Mighty Bamboo Towels (Lowe's)
Material: bamboo viscose
These towels are antibacterial and were tested effectively against Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria.
In terms of performance, they outperform traditional paper towels. However, when reading reviews, customers seem to be concerned over one ingredient in particular: bamboo viscose.
I’m not a scientist by any means, so I had to do a little research about bamboo viscose— what it is and what it means. According to Green Eco Friend, bamboo undergoes a process to be turned into a fabric.
One of the ways bamboo is turned into fabric is chemical. The three processes described by Green Eco Friend are bamboo rayon, bamboo viscose, and bamboo lyocell. All three are biodegradable, but bamboo lyocell is the most eco-friendly as it uses the least amount of chemicals.
On the pro side of these towels, they are very heavy duty and will last with many uses. Each towel can be washed in the washing machine any used up to 80 times.
They’re printed with green ink which I actually liked. Because it indicates to the people in your life that these towels are not like regular paper towels and that they shouldn't be disposed of in the trash.
Best Bulk Bamboo Paper Towels – NatureZway (Costco)
Material: bamboo rayon
If you need to buy paper towels in bulk and want to make the switch to bamboo paper towels in bulk, check out Costco’s Naturezway 2-ply bamboo paper towels.
It comes with 12 rolls.
Best Multi-Size Bamboo Paper Towels – Cloud Paper Bamboo Paper Towels
Material: 100% bamboo
Cloud Paper Bamboo towels are made from smaller sheets, making how much you tear customizable.
If you want a larger sheet, break at the perforated edges of two sheets instead of one to create multi-size sheets. They are strong and durable, 2-ply, BPA-free, have no added dyes or pesticides, and are made of 100% bamboo.
Cloud Paper’s packaging is also plastic-free, made locally, and made with recycled materials!
They offer a subscription service you can sign up for, proving you with regular deliveries.
Like Grove Co., Cloud Paper takes sustainability seriously. Cloud Paper Bamboo offsets any carbon emissions generated during transportation and shipping.
Rolled Towels vs. Folded Towels
Typically, rolled paper towels are single-use and are dispensed via a kitchen roll.
With folded paper towels, I often think of the fancy paper towels you see at high-end restaurants.
Folded paper towels are usually one-use hand towels. They are usually stacked up or are pulled down from a dispenser. Then, then can unfold into thin, large sheets, if that’s desired.
It’s a specific design, and it isn’t one flat piece, unlike the kind of pieces that can be saved from the reusable kitchen towel rolls. The folded hand towels can be thick or thin to cover more service area, depending on the user’s preference or how much water the user has on their hands.
With bamboo, rolled paper towel sheets can almost turn into folded paper towels–since they’re reusable. They won’t be folded in the way typical folded towels can unfold to a larger size, but each towel can be used in place of disposable hand towels a few times over.
Bamboo products can replace both paper towel rolls as well as single-use folded hand towels. And, because bamboo paper towels are often reusable, each sheet can be washed and dried to be used again. Over time, this will result in much less waste! In this way, rolled bamboo paper towels can be multi-purpose.
You can re-wash your kitchen towel roll sheets made of bamboo and keep them in a basket or a drawer, or a properly sized hand towel dispenser.
Best Rolled Paper Towel: Grove Reusable Paper Towels
Material: 100% bamboo
For this product, Grove again stands by its commitment to sustainability. They are currently a company that is 100% plastic neutral. “Plastic neutral” means that for every ounce of plastic used in their products and packaging, Grove works with Plastic Bank (a charity creating for expanding recycling ecosystems) to offset that plastic usage. Plastic Bank diverts the same amount of plastic used by Grove from the ocean.
Plastic neutrality is just the beginning. Grove plans to be completely plastic-free by 2025.
These reusable and eco-friendly bamboo paper towels are an important part of that transition. As they contain minimal packaging, all of which is made from recycled paper, support towards this product supports the efforts being put forward towards creating a more sustainable economy.
These paper towels are also panda-friendly — win-win! Supporting pandas–and therefore their ecosystems–is another important aspect of sustainability.
And you’ll be happy to know that these paper towels are only made from bamboo that is of a different variety than what pandas depend on as a food source. Additionally, the bamboo used for these rolls is 100% pesticide-free.
As a company, Grove is a Certified B Corporation.
B Corporations are part of an important movement to grow the future of an economy that simultaneously supports sustainability.
Each roll comes with 20 reusable paper towel sheets. Made of 11.5” x 10.75” sheets. Each sheet can be reused for about one week. Hang dry.
Best Folded Paper Towel: Gold Hemstitch Compostable Guest Napkins (Food52)
Material: bamboo viscose and cellulose
If you’re looking to replace the paper guest towels in your bathroom, you can easily replace your tree-made paper napkins or folded paper towels with bamboo. Best In Table makes soft compostable bamboo napkins sold by Food52. They come in a pack of 50.
The towels look like the kind of bathroom napkins you’d see at fancy restaurants, only these are 100% tree-free.
And because they are made of bamboo fibers, they’ll only take about 55 days to decompose on their own, whether they’re put into a compost or not. That’s how eco-friendly and bio-degradable bamboo products can be! No extra work on your part is required.
These Best In Table compostable napkins also have an attractive hemstitch trim. The trim comes in two colors: gold or silver. The extra detailing makes these bamboo folded paper towels the best choice on my list for impressing guests. The pretty design is a special choice for the days you want something fancy.
You’ll no doubt have a favorite among the different options available. For me, plastic-free packaging is a big selling point.
Regardless of your particular preference, all the choices on this list cut down the production of harmful materials by using biodegradable bamboo.
By now I'm sure you're wondering how to store some of these reusable paper towels. Once you go through a reusable paper towel roll for the first time, you’ll then have a bunch of loose sheets.
You can keep them in the drawer, a basket, an old Kleenex box, or use a reusable rolling method like YouTuber Jared Robinson.
While some of the reusable towels can be machine washed, make sure you don't put any of the bamboo paper towels in the clothes dryer. Hang to dry. Fortunately, bamboo dries pretty quickly–allowing you to use them again and again.