Why hoard paper towels for coronadoomsday?

Earlier this week, I met a friend in the paper products aisle at Costco. She said “This place has been stripped barer than a line of actresses auditioning for a role with Miramax.”

We later learned that they’ve been sold out of paper towels since the last week of February. Why? Food and water are plainly useful after the collapse of civilization, but why paper towels? Will armed bands roaming neighborhoods mock those whose kitchens aren’t sparkling clean? If it is about sanitizing surfaces, shouldn’t the run be on Lysol wipes?

The good news and bad news is that there is no shortage of gefilte fish and matzah:

What happens when rich suburbanites panic? There is a run on extra virgin olive oil:

Readers: Why the madness for hoarding paper towels?

10 thoughts on “Why hoard paper towels for coronadoomsday?

  1. Cleaning surfaces. Especially if water dept has staffing issues, towels/laundry may be at risk. Wet wipes have been huge item, too. Viruses are antithetical to environmental stewardship.

  2. When the laundry doesn’t work and the shammies are dirty, the paper towels will be needed to wipe the water marks off the Tesla paint jobs.

    Also, due to supply chain disruption on Chinese goods, the cardboard tubes in the rolls will come in handy for everything from jewelry holders to knife sheaths, cord organizers, bird feeders, and DIY iPhone speakers (!)


    And let’s not forget good old Reader’s Digest. Everyone who shops at Costco reads it.

    “Make English Crackers
    Keep the spirit of holiday firecrackers but cut out the dangers associated with burning explosives. Use toilet paper tubes to make English crackers, which “explode” into tiny gifts. For each cracker, tie a string about 8 inches (20 centimeters) long around a small gift such as candy, a balloon, or a figurine. After tying, the string should have about 6 inches (15 centimeters) to spare. Place the gift into the tube so the string dangles out one end. Cover the tube with bright-colored crepe paper or tissue and twist the ends. When you pull the string, out pops the gift.”

    And while you’re working from home, take a break with any one of the 522 paper towel roll crafts on Pinterest:


    • I am stunned that Reader’s Digest is still a thing. It was once ubiquitous, but I haven’t thought about it in years.

      The Simpsons had a funny parody of it back in 1991.

  3. Page 56 of “Coronavirus/Covid-19 Preparedness – How to Prepare for Quarantine or Collapse” by Jeff Kirkham & Jason Ross lists Paper Towels under “Bug Out Vehicle Tote Contents” along with 74 other items from a Heavy Rifle and two handguns to “Beanies.” That’s gonna be one full vehicle tote.

    A free download…


    • Agreed. This radiologist has been working tirelessly since Dec 31st, the day she was to have started a planned vacation.

  4. I’m not that far away in SE MA and haven’t seen any shelves picked clean in local supermarkets. Everything looks normal around here. Are we smarter or dumber?

  5. Matzo wouldn’t be bad at all as a disaster food. Stuff lasts forever. Still, you would probably be better off with 50 pound bags of rice and flour. For water, why not fill up trash bags or clean containers in the tub. Probably you will never need it, but it will be fine if you do and pleasantly cheap if you don’t. Buying water in 12 ounce bottles at the store has to be the worst idea ever.

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