Paper towels shed a dust like mad when you rub them on anything. The cheaper the paper towels the worse they are. Kleenexes are even worse as they seem to have a linty surface.
best way to tame the dust in a darkroom is to mop the floor. The moisture helps limit the amount of dry dust that collects as well as the static electricity.
I used a carpeted walk-in closet for my darkroom. I keep the door mostly shut all the time; I'd rather it wasn't carpeted but I can dry film in there with no problems. At walmart I saw several small room-sized HEPA filtration units for sale in the $60-$100 range. If it was in the budget I would buy one of those and leave it running in the darkroom all the time.
Paper towels still have a place in the darkroom, for quickly mopping up spills and then you just bin them
However, Jerolds’ point about using paper towels as dusters is very true, I tried it on a dark shiny work surface and surprised myself just how much stuff the paper towel shed as it collected up other debris :o
As for fingers in the fixer - I have to wash my hands very carefully if I ever do accidentally get fixer on my skin, as otherwise it leaches out onto subsequent prints, leaving inverse fingerprints in the shadow areas
I use single tray processing and I must say I have never had a fixer spill. I use latex gloves if I process a batch of prints by interleaving them but my bare hands never touch the chemistry. I don't like paper towels at all in the darkroom but I think that the less "fuzzy" the surface the better if you use them.
I use these flour sack towels. They are cheap. You can buy a dozen or two. I go through many towels in a darkroom session and then wash them.