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Hand wiping countertop with paper towel cleaning k 2022 11 11 08 54 14 utcFor all their utility and ubiquity (not to mention TV commercials’ allegations), paper towels are simply not very good at their job—at least when compared with hydrogels, which are already utilized in the form of microbeads between fabric or paper sheets for products like diapers or tampons. These materials, composed of large, interlocking polymers, absorb upwards of 100 times their weight in water, making them roughly 30 percent more effective than porous options like paper towels.