My office has a folded paper hand towel dispenser (one almost like this, but not exactly this) in the restrooms.

A clear picture of the dispenser:

enter image description here

An idea of how the paper is stacked inside:

enter image description here

Detailed pic of the towel:

enter image description here

After washing your hands, you are supposed to take out one or more towels from the dispenser in order to wipe your hands dry.

But the thing is, your hands are wet and the paper towels are not thick enough. So when you try to take out a towel with wet hands, the paper gets wet before 1 fold can come out and it breaks without coming out completely. You have to repeat the process couple of times and use the partial paper towel to partially wipe your hands dry enough to be able to take out a complete paper towel.

Thus the question is, how to properly take out a complete hand towel with wet hands without breaking it in the middle or struggling multiple times before getting one complete out.

  • 1
    I feel like this isn't a real problem. It's asking to better a technique, not for any type of physical lifehack Dec 25, 2014 at 22:01
  • @ZachSaucier There are many such other questions which ask for better alternatives to a very bad existing approach. How is this one different ?
    – Optimizer
    Dec 25, 2014 at 22:06
  • @ZachSaucier Is that really a problem? I could understand a "slippery-slope" argument, but this seems to be a common enough problem with a simple enough solution.
    – apaul
    Dec 25, 2014 at 22:08
  • We have those dispensers around here, and I've never had that problem. I think your office may need to switch to a better grade of paper towels -- preferably ones that aren't quite as see-through as in your last picture. Or get a reusable cotton roll dispenser instead. Dec 25, 2014 at 23:20
  • 1
    Speak to your office supplies manager - they think they're saving money buying thinner, cheaper paper towels, but actually, its costing more because everyone has to use 3 or 4 to do the job...
    – Bamboo
    Dec 27, 2014 at 16:27

4 Answers 4

  1. While you're still at the sink shake any excess water off of your hands.
  2. When grabbing the paper towel use both hands.
  3. Using both hands grab the paper towel about a quarter of the way from each side.
  4. Don't pinch, grab. Try to get a hold of as much surface area as possible.
  5. Pull evenly/steadily don't yank it

This may sound kind of silly, but having had to instal and fill a few of these dispensers, many come with directions...

Most of the time you shouldn't need to be this precise when grabbing a paper towel though, if your having significant problems it is very likely that whoever is refilling it is over-stuffing the dispenser.

  • Number 1 works really well.
    – Justin
    Dec 26, 2014 at 0:04

Get the paper towel on your way into the washroom and stuff it half way into your pocket. This also gives you a chance to find out early whether there are any paper towels to begin with, so you can go look for toilet paper in a stall.

  • Doctors and nurses are taught to pull towels and tuck them under your arms before getting your hands wet rather than use pockets which may be contaminated.
    – Stan
    Apr 15, 2020 at 13:34

We have these exact dispensers in our office and there is only one technique used by every person there: snatch-and-grab.

You will actually see people take a second to prepare themselves for the swift motion required. Grab the middle of the towel between thumb and forefinger and snatch the towel downwards as quickly as you can. It, literally, never fails and must be many times faster than the 2 other answers here. The water simply doesn't have time to penetrate the towel and weaken the structure.


Try pinching your wet thumb and index fingers along parts of the paper towel that is hanging from the dispenser. Those parts of the paper towel will become wet, but your thumb and index fingers will become drier. Once they are dry enough, use your thumb and index finger to pull on a dry part of the paper towel, and it should come out without breaking.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.