Ditch the Paper Towels

I have never really understood the purchase and use of paper towels. In fact, with the exception of toilet paper and femine products, we’ve bought very few disposable “paper” products at all.

Not only does it help remove another item in our grocery list, it also saves trees, creates less trash, and decreases the pollution involved in the production, packaging, and distribution of those products.  Added benefit?  We can use this simple lesson to teach our children another small way to care for our lovely earth.

It is also totally do-able.  I have never once thought that life would be easier with paper towels

Here’s what you will want to have around the house in order to go paper towel free.  And the best part?  You don’t have to BUY anything.

Ditch those Paper Towels!

Cleaning cloths –

I love yard sale towels and if I can find a big old bath or beach towel for under a dollar or a hand towel for a quarter I rarely pass them by.  The big fluffy ones we use for bath time or the beach.  But the thinner older ones are what I use for cleaning cloths.  I have 2 large shopping bags full to the brim with so many cloths that I don’t mind a bit if the job is so messy that a few get thrown away.  I know that there are always going to be more where  those came  from.

Throw-aways –

Now for the jobs where I KNOW I don’t want to wash them.  Kitchen grease, those mucky child/pet messes….  not to mention those garage jobs hubby needs towels for that are going to involve oil, chemicals, or who knows what.  These instances are the reason I will never throw away a tshirt or anything made out of cotton knit.  These things are amazing because cotton knit doesn’t unravel so it’ll last until you’ve worn it so thin it disintegrates plus cotton is very absorbent.  Everything from leggings, stained yucky tees, and whatever little things the kids have worn out or outgrown that can’t be resold get turned into the throw away rags.  I have another large shopping bag full of these and my family knows that that is the go-to bag when they aren’t sure if the cloth will be able to be washed and it doesn’t matter if they are thrown out.

Cloth napkins –

Now we aren’t very particular when it comes to cloth napkins in our house so if we need one we usually just grab something out of the cleaning cloth bag.  But I did sew up some really pretty napkins from a tablecloth I got for $1 at a yard sale so if there’s company we can look all fancy :)  If you aren’t handy around a sewing machine you can usually find some pretty awesome wahm made Unpaper Towels and cloth napkins online.

Lunchbox Napkins –

I like to send something fun along in the kiddos lunch boxes so I used some woven cotton that I upcycled from some outgrown dressed along with some pretty colorful hand towels and wash clothes (from yard sales of course) and made some pretty turned and top stitched square napkins for them.  I’ve been doing that here and there when another pretty dress has been outgrown but can’t be resold due to stains or holes.  I just work around those spots on the fabric and the little ones have a great collection of pretty napkins all of their own to choose from.

But isn’t it a lot of laundry?

I recognize that living paper towel-free doesn’t work for everyone, but if you own a washing machine and have a family, you are probably already doing multiple loads a week. A few small cloths and rags won’t change that.  Mine go straight into the wash with the towels.  Anything too gross to wash with towels goes in the garbage…..  still less expensive than buying paper towels and napkins!

What about germs? Let’s face it, if you have kids or pets there is probably on occasion some pretty gross things in your washing machine. You don’t throw your kid’s bedsheets out because they had too much water before bed, you just wash them with soap and hot water and trust that they are clean, right?  Simple as that.

Do you use paper towels? Do  you consider yourself a paper free household?  Any tips I missed?


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