The Best Paper Towel Holder

This is my favorite type of idea:  it’s cheap, easy and solves a bunch of problems that expensive “solutions” don’t!

Aboard Que Tal, one of the previous owners had installed a beautiful teak spice rack and paper towel holder.  It had two failings:  being over the stove and next to the ceiling, any spices stored in it quickly lost their flavor from the heat (see how to store spices).  And since it was next to a port hole that I always left open, any little breeze would spin the roll on the dowel and I’d instantly have 10 feet of paper-towel flag blowing in the breeze — sometimes even threatening to stream right out the companionway.

The thing is, a similar teak rack now costs over $100 — hardly cheap for something that really doesn’t really work.  I put my spices in a small cupboard near the floor and cursed the paper towel streamer — but never came up with a better way of storing the roll.

The perfect paper towel holder for a boat, RV or anywhere a breeze can blow in through the window. Cheap, easy and solves paper towels "blowing in the wind."Fast-forward to cruising aboard Winterlude with our friends David and Jan Irons, who writes Commuter  Jan swears that I gave her the idea for her paper towel holder, and I’m equally certain I didn’t because I would have quickly retrofitted my holder.  Regardless, it’s the best solution I’ve ever seen.  And making it even better is the fact that it costs less than $5.

Jan used two cup hooks and a piece of bungee cord to make her paper towel holder.  The idea is shown in the photo, but Jan admits that the bungee is a little past its prime and it works best when the shock cord is tight.

You can use a pre-made bungee with hooks on the ends, or custom-make one yourself to the exact length you need and make loops in the ends using hog rings.  Quarter-inch shock cord provides the right amount of tension.  You’ll need to replace the shock cord about once a year.  While Jan put hers under an existing spice rack, you can put it anywhere that you can screw the cup hooks into.

On our new boat, I put one vertically:

The perfect paper towel holder for a boat, RV or anywhere a breeze can blow in through the window. Cheap, easy and solves paper towels "blowing in the wind."

Very simply, the shock cord presses the roll of paper towels against the wall and keeps it from spinning in the breeze — but it’s still easy enough to pull off a sheet when you want it.

An alternative if you already have a holder mounted somewhere is to run the shock cord on the outside of the roll, again preventing it from unrolling of its own volition but easy to pull off a sheet when you want it.

Let’s hear it for another one of Jan’s “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas!

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  • Sue K
    Posted at 28 July 2011 Reply

    A chip clip attached to the outside edge also works.

  • Dave Skolnick on Auspicious
    Posted at 22 August 2011 Reply

    Hi Carolyn,

    I’m slow to drill holes and cut into the woodwork on Auspicious. Six years downstream I still keep the papertowels and toilet paper simply sitting out on their respective counters. Underway they get tucked behind a non-skid basket and at anchor they sit on end in a convenient place.

  • Carol Ann on Facebook
    Posted at 14 May 2012 Reply

    And you won’t need hold the roll still with one hand while you tear the sheet off with the other! Great idea!!

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 14 May 2012 Reply

    Oooh I love extra benefits! Thanks for adding that!

  • Nancy Fournier on Facebook
    Posted at 04 December 2012 Reply

    been doing that for 2 years now.

  • Darlene Burnett Price
    Posted at 11 November 2013 Reply

    I got the reaction from the captain–holes in the teak. Great idea but probably won’t happen on our boat.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 11 November 2013 Reply

      Use Command hooks — no holes and they remove with no residue or marking.

  • Darlene Burnett Price
    Posted at 11 November 2013 Reply

    I like Command hooks. I’ll look for one that would hold the bungee cord. Thanks.

  • LaMarr Harding
    Posted at 26 November 2013 Reply

    Having used the bungie cord, I’ve slipped a piece of PVC pipe over the cord that is an inch or so longer than the paper towel tubing, The bungie doesn’t get caught in the seam on the towel roll and the cord doesn’t get shabby as fast.

  • Vala
    Posted at 26 January 2014 Reply

    our small Cal 30 didn’t have any kind of holder and I couldn’t figure out where to put one – we wound up using the bungee idea, but hooked over the curtain rod near the sink. has always worked great!

  • Dan N Jaye
    Posted at 29 September 2015 Reply

    My alternative: hanging weight

    • Kitty
      Posted at 06 September 2016 Reply

      We do the same thing, but yours is prettier. 🙂

  • Shawn Harlan
    Posted at 29 September 2015 Reply

    So redneck lol

  • Linsay Patterson
    Posted at 30 September 2015 Reply

    And doesn’t unroll by itself

  • Frances Liz Fernandez
    Posted at 06 September 2016 Reply

    I forgot about this one.

  • Sharon
    Posted at 06 September 2016 Reply

    I will use this idea, but instead of cup hooks I will wrap the shock cord around the compression post in the galley at the top and bottom of the roll and hold it tight with hooks attached to each end of the cord. It will hang vertically. Thanks for the tip!

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