How to Open Paper Towel Dispenser: A Complete Guide

Opening a dispenser can be tricky, as there are many different types with different ways to open them. But once you know how to open the dispenser, refilling it is easy. This guide will show you how to open and refill dispensers in both homes and businesses.

Why Proper Opening is Essential

  • Convenience – Quick access allows for fast reloading when towel supply runs low.
  • Hygiene – Frequent opening maintains cleaner dispensers and helps reduce bacterial build-up.
  • Function – Keeping dispensers filled ensures they operate properly.
  • Savings – Avoiding tearing too many unusable small towels decreases unnecessary waste

Step by Step Process

Here are some basic steps to follow:

Step 1: Identify the Type

The first step in opening any paper towel dispenser is determining what type you have. There are three main kinds found in commercial and public settings:

1. Wall-Mounted Dispensers

This is the most common type, typically found in public restrooms and kitchens. It is attached directly to the wall and dispenses paper towels from a roll or stack. Popular varieties include:

  • Manual – Require pulling the towel out.
  • Automatic – Use a sensor to dispense towels when hands are waved underneath.

2. Countertop Dispensers

This type is smaller and more portable, often found in office break rooms or home kitchens. They are placed on the kitchen counter or other flat surface. They can be either hand-operated or automatic.

3. Pull-Down Dispensers

These dispensers are mounted directly above the sink and feature a pull-down mechanism that dispenses paper towels through a slot. They are commonly found in commercial kitchens and public restrooms.

Paper Towel Dispenser

Step 2: Locate the Lock Mechanism

Once you find the type, the next step is finding how to unlock it. This will allow you access inside to refill or service the unit.

Common places to look for locks include:

1. Bottom Edge

Many wall-mounted dispensers are locked with a key or a combination. Look for a keyhole, combination lock, or other locking mechanism along the bottom or side of the dispenser.

2. Underside

Some countertop dispensers have locks located on the underside of the unit. To find the lock, gently tilt or lift the dispenser and look for a keyhole or dial.

3. Hidden Locks

Sometimes, the locking mechanism is hidden behind a small door, a sliding tray, or a fake panel. Look closely on all sides to find the hidden lock.

Step 3: Unlocking with a Key or Code

Keys and combination locks provide controlled access to interior compartments. If your facility issues keys or codes, use them for unlocking.

1. Using a Key

Insert the key into any visible keyholes or slots. Turn it clockwise or anti-clockwise until you hear the click.

2. Entering Combination Codes

If there is a dial instead, carefully enter the combination code provided to you. Make sure your code is correct.

3. Keyless Entry Systems

Some high-tech dispensers utilize quick response (QR) codes or radio-frequency identification (RFID) instead of old-fashioned keys. These systems typically require a code or special card to open.

Replacing Paper Towel Roll in a Dispenser

Step 4: Opening the Dispenser Door or Cover

With the dispenser unlocked, it’s time to open the door or cover to access the paper towels. The opening mechanism varies depending on the dispenser type.

  • For hinged doors: Pull down on the handle or lever to open the door.
  • For sliding covers: Slide the cover sideways to open it.
  • For lift-up lids: Lift up the lid to open it.

Step 5: Refilling and Closing Properly

With the dispenser open, you can now refill the paper towels. Follow these steps:

  • Remove the empty roll or core: Carefully remove the empty roll from the dispenser.
  • Insert a new roll or core: Place the new roll securely into the dispenser, ensuring it aligns properly with the feed mechanism.
  • Close the dispenser: Close the dispenser door or cover firmly, ensuring it locks securely if applicable.

Troubleshooting: What to Do When the Dispenser Won’t Open

Paper towel dispensers are designed for easy operation, but sometimes they may malfunction and refuse to open. Before seeking assistance, try these troubleshooting steps:

  • Check the Key: Ensure you’re using the correct key for the dispenser. Using the wrong key can damage the lock.
  • Inspect for Obstructions: Small pieces of material or dirt may sometimes get stuck in the locking mechanism and prevent it from working properly. Please check the lock carefully and remove anything that is blocking it.
  • Gently Tap the Dispenser: Gently tap or lightly shake the dispenser to free any internal components that may be stuck.
  • Refer to the Manual: Consult the dispenser’s user manual for specific troubleshooting instructions. You may find helpful guidance for common issues.
  • Contact Support: If all else fails, don’t hesitate to contact the manufacturer’s customer support for assistance.

Remember that patience and gentle handling are key when troubleshooting a paper towel dispenser. Avoid using excessive force, as this can lead to damage.

Maintenance for Longevity

To ensure you dispenser functions smoothly and lasts for an extended period, regular maintenance is essential. Here are some maintenance tips to keep in mind:

  • Clean the Exterior: Wipe down the exterior of the dispenser regularly to remove dirt and smudges. Use a gentle, non-abrasive cleaner.
  • Inspect the Lock: Check the lock and key for any signs of wear or damage. Replace them as needed to prevent issues with opening and securing the dispenser.
  • Monitor Paper Levels: Keep an eye on the paper towel levels and refill the dispenser before it runs empty. This prevents inconvenience for users and ensures a continuous supply.
  • Inspect Moving Parts: Periodically check for any loose or malfunctioning parts, such as levers, sensors, or buttons. Tighten or replace them as necessary.
  • Follow Manufacturer Guidelines: Adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance and cleaning. This ensures the warranty remains valid.

Proper maintenance not only extends the life of your dispenser but also contributes to a positive user experience.


This guide is useful when you need to replace empty rolls. First, figure out the type of dispenser you have and then carefully find the latch or lock that opens it up. With a few simple steps, you’ll be able to refill the dispenser with new paper towels quickly and easily!


How do you open a paper towel dispenser without a key?

There are a few ways to open a paper towel dispenser without a key. One way is to use a butter knife or thin object to open the dispenser door. Another way is to insert a credit card or ID card into the slot on the dispenser door and twist to open. If the dispenser is a push-button type, you may be able to open it by pressing and holding the button for a few seconds.

How do you open a paper towel roll?

Opening a paper towel roll is simple. Locate the perforated edge on the roll and gently pull the sheet along the perforation. This will separate one sheet from the roll, making it ready for use.

How do you open a clean and soft paper towel dispenser?

To open a clean and soft paper towel dispenser, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Usually, these dispensers have a button or lever to release the front cover. Gently press or pull this mechanism to access the clean and soft paper towels inside.

How do you change a paper towel roll dispenser?

To change a paper towel roll dispenser, first remove the empty roll of paper towels from the dispenser. Then, insert the new roll of paper towels into the dispenser, making sure that the end of the paper towel is facing outwards. Finally, close the dispenser door.

Learn More


Leave a Reply