Product Review: CleanCut Paper Towel Dispenser

Filed under: Money — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:20 am on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Product Review: CleanCut Paper Towel Dispenser

Awhile back, I wrote a post about 5 Ways To Save Money On Paper Towels. I mentioned that I wished there was a machine that could cut paper towels any length you wanted. I meant a manual machine along the lines of a paper cutter, but instead I was informed there is a high-tech option available called the CleanCut Paper Towel Dispenser.

Here’s the product description:

The CLEANCut Touchless Paper Towel Dispenser is a sanitary, no-touch paper towel dispenser that uses any brand of store-bought paper towel. It … uses Breaking Beam Technology to cut paper towels to any length, regardless of perforation. To use, simply place your hand between the LED sensors in the dispense zone (right side). Once the desired amount of paper has been dispensed, remove your hand. To cut, place your hand between the LED sensors in the cutting zone (left side). … CLEANCut operates on a low voltage power adapter that plugs into a standard 120V outlet.

I had an opportunity to try the CleanCut Paper Towel Dispenser out. Generally, I love machines that make life easier. I use a dishwasher to clean my dishes, a Roomba vacuum cleaner to sweep my floor, a thermostat to control my heat, so it seemed like I might like the CleanCut Paper Towel Dispenser to cut my paper towels for me. Although the high price of the gadget–$140-$160–made me pause, it still seemed possible that with repeated use you could make that money back on saved paper towels. Also, it might be a fun or attractive gadget to have in the kitchen.

But when I received the CleanCut Paper Towel Dispenser, I was perplexed. First of all, it is huge. At 16 x 6-1/2 x 11-1/2 inches and weighing almost 7 pounds, it is the size of a fax machine.

Secondly, the site claims it is stainless steel. It is not. It is made of gray plastic. It does not look high-end to me, and in fact felt kind of cheap.

Third, you can’t just flip the CleanCut on and begin using it, you have to install it first. It has to be mounted underneath a kitchen cupboard and near a power outlet, which means that this product won’t work for many kitchens simply on logistics alone.

Anyway, I got the CleanCut Paper Towel Dispenser installed and then went about loading paper towels into it. First problem: the jumbo rolls of paper towels I buy from the outlet center wouldn’t fit. This was confusing, since the website says, “It doesn’t matter what paper towel you buy, the CleanCut is designed to work with any brand.” Brand, yes, but size of roll, no.

Luckily, I had a smaller paper towel roll around, so I loaded that instead. Finally I could try it! And I found that the no-touch technology works pretty well. It takes a little getting used to, but in general, it was fun to wave you hand over the gadget and have paper towels magically roll out to your exact specifications. This is not without its charms.

Also, if you are someone who worry about germs, one advantage of this product is that you don’t have to touch it to get the paper towel. So, if you’re cutting raw chicken, say, you can get a paper towel without having to touch anything, thus reducing cross contamination or at least cutting down the amount of time you have to cleaning things you’ve touched.

So, let’s get to the main question: Will the CleanCut Paper Towel Dispenser save you money?

I seriously doubt it.

The version of the CleanCut I tried costs $160. Just to break even, you would have to cut down your paper towel usage enough to save $160. Well. That is a lot of paper towels.

In my case, I buy 4 jumbo packs of paper towels at about $60 a year. Let’s pretend I waste half of every paper towel and by scrimping every piece of paper towel through the CleanCut, I cut that down to 2 jumbo packs. That means I would save $30 a year on paper towels. At that rate, it would take me over 5 years to make back the $160 I spent on the CleanCut Paper Towel Dispenser.

At that point, you might start making money on this product–except there’s still the issue of the electricity you are using to make the CleanCut run. Every time you wave your hand over the front, the machine is pulling electricity out of the wall outlet to give you the paper towel, which of course goes on your electricity bill. Is the money you are arguably saving by using a little bit less paper MORE than the money you are spending on electricity to make the CleanCut work? That’s a question that can make a penny pincher’s head hurt, but it’s probably negligible either way.

Therefore, CleanCut is not a good way to save money on paper towels. Switching to rags does a much better job–and they are free.

SO let’s sum up the CleanCut Paper Towel Dispenser:

Pros:

    Fun to use.
    Will reduce the amount of paper towels you use.
    Reduces cross contamination.
    Great for people who fear germs.


Cons:

    Expensive.
    Big.
    Plastic, not stainless steel.
    Hard to install.
    Will only work in some kitchens.
    Doesn’t use jumbo rolls.
    Uses electricity.
    Won’t save you money.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. If you used this product, what did you think?

2 Comments »

Comment by Stephanie

January 31, 2011 @ 2:29 am

Catching up on blogs! :) Back when I used to buy paper towel rolls (before traveling), I would make sure to get the ones that dispense the half sheets rather than the big sheets. That’s probably as close as you can get to using just what you need without some crazy expensive machine or using cloth. Pretty cool that you got to test it out tho!

Comment by richard

January 18, 2012 @ 9:17 am

I bought one for 114 at Costco. I love it and I will save money on towels as I use about 1/4 of what I used to use. As for electricity it probably costs less than 50 cents a year to operate.

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