When Were Paper Towels Invented?

You walk by them in the grocery store, they are found in most kitchens, and you may use them to dry your hands. We’re talking about paper towels. Anyone reading this has probably used paper towels at least once in the last 24 hours without giving the product much thought.The question is when were paper towels invented?

They are a staple on your kitchen counter and are convenient whenever you spill coffee or need to wipe down the counter. This diverse product is a common household item but most people do not know the history behind the disposable towel.

So, when exactly did paper towels take the world by storm and become a popular household item? When did people finally say goodbye to their old cloth rags and start using the more sanitary and disposable option? 

We will answer these questions and more to satisfy your curiosity and give you all the information on paper towels. When you are done reading this post, you can finally stop asking yourself “When did paper towels come out?” and “When were paper towels invented?”

Scott Paper Company History

In 1879, two brothers living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, developed the Scott Paper Company.

Irvin and Clarence Scott’s company produced toilet tissue that was originally targeted toward the medical community. The first rolls of toilet tissue were sold for ten cents and included a thousand sheets per roll.

To expand their market, the Scotts created print ads in an attempt to educate the public. They hoped to address any discomfort surrounding the purchasing of toilet tissue.

Related: Who Invented Liquid Soap?

The History of Paper Towels

You may be wondering how exactly the Scott Paper Company went from supplying hospitals with toilet tissue to creating the first paper towel. In 1907, the new head of the company, Arthur Scott, received a railroad car filled with defective paper. The paper that arrived was too thick for toilet tissue and, consequently, could not be used for its intended purpose.

Arthur Scott had a problem. He could have sent the shipment back, but he recalled how a school teacher in the city gave her sick students small pieces of paper to dry their hands. She believed that this would help stop the spread of germs by keeping the cloth towel uncontaminated by the sick children.

Remembering this teacher’s story, Arthur Scott came up with the idea to sell this thick paper as a way to dry hands after using the restroom. He perforated the paper, allowing it to be torn into small sections, and advertised the product as disposable. This set into motion the creation of what we now call paper towels.

Scott sold these thick, perforated towels to schools, restaurants, and railroad stations as well as hotels to use for drying hands. It was not until a few decades later that the paper towels we know and love today were invented.

Related: Who Invented The Porta Potty?

When Were Paper Towels Invented?

In 1931, the paper towel that we find in most kitchens today was created. Arthur Scott saw how successful the paper towels in bathrooms had become and had a new idea. He would take the same concept but design the paper towels to be larger for kitchen use.

who invented paper towels

When Did Paper Towels Become Popular?

The paper towel design was aimed at housewives. These disposable sheets created an alternative to washing the typical cloth towel found in most kitchens. They provided a new convenience but still took a few years to completely replace the cloth towel.

A Few Quick Scott Paper Towels Facts

  • The Scott Paper Company was founded in 1879
  • Arthur Scott was the son of Irvin Scott
  • The first paper towels were sold under the name “Sani-Towel”
  • The original paper towel dimensions were 13” x 8”

It is almost unbelievable that the invention of one of the most-used kitchen items was created due to a product mishap. Had Arthur Scott not received a shipment of thick paper and remembered a teacher’s idea to give sick children paper to dry their hands with, where would we be?

Wilkinson Portables is a portable toilet rental company in Placerville, CA. We are the most trusted and experienced toilet rental company for any large or small event.

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