It can be easy to go through a lot of paper towels. After having kids, I felt like I was going through way too many, with many more spills and messes than usual. When we decided to try cloth diapers, I also wanted to try cloth wipes in the place of paper towels (or at least most of our paper towels).
Since making the switch, we have been able to use this eco-friendly, cost-effective system of using rags instead of paper towels.
And yes – there absolutely are exceptions where I still use paper towels!
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There are many different kinds of cloths you can use in the place of paper towels.
Personally, my favorites are cheap washcloths, which are either sold as washcloths or rags. I feel like they are very absorbent and hold up well from spills to scrubbing, but you can use just about any kind that works for you, from microfiber cloths to old t-shirts.
You can also be creative, such as cutting up an old sheet and sewing the edges so that the material does not fray. Once our children were out of diapers, we saved the cloth diaper inserts to use as rags, and we always save old towels, washcloths, dish towels, etc. to use as rags.
I have used reusable paper towels like this, which feel like a slightly thick paper towel, and are washable.
I have also used cloth paper towels like these Earthly Unpaper Towels, which come in a lot of cute designs!
Keep in mind that a lot of laundry detergents and/or dryer sheets reduce absorption for materials. Go eco-friendly and choose natural laundry detergent products that don’t have chemicals in them – which will be better for you as well!
I recommend keeping quite a few rags on hand. I have a large bin of washcloth size rags in my mudroom, which is easy to grab and plentiful. I also have a smaller stash of large size rags, which are about the size of hand or face towels, and come in handy for big messes. I also keep some rags in the back of my car, which get used for messes in the car or if we encounter a situation that can use some cleaning up (anything from mud getting tracked into the car to if the kids spill something on themselves). In the winter, we keep some large rags by our front door, for any stray snow, salt, or ice that gets tracked into the house. I am always finding new uses for my rags!
There are some things I still use paper towels for. Some examples would be grease or oil, when the cats throw up, and other messes that are just too messy or unsanitary to deal with.
I love using rags instead of paper towels. They absorb so much more, so if the kids spill a whole cup of juice, I simply wipe it up with a rag, rinse it out, and toss in the wash. And rags hold up well – I even scrub my floors with rags.
I use my rags with a lot of homemade natural cleaners – such as white vinegar, or a solution of vinegar and dish soap. When I am done, I simply rinse the rags and toss into the wash. You can find lots of recipes for natural cleaners online.
You can also use the rags with disinfectants like bleach solution.
I have been washing my rags for years, and I don’t think any of them have worn out or gotten too stained use, but when the time comes, I will compost them.
I usually rinse them out before putting them in the washing machine, to remove things like dirt, sand, or food particles. I also pre-soak the rags and other overly dirty laundry items (like stinky socks) before rinsing and putting them in the washing machine. Sometimes I pre-wash them in a mild bleach solution if they are looking a bit funky (smelly or stained). This is important if you are worried about your rags becoming germy, moldy, or smelly. It also doesn’t hurt to sun dry your rags!
I usually use a natural powdered detergent (which does not leave residues and therefore keeps the fabric absorbent). It also helps to add a laundry booster like Borax. I do sun-dry when possible, which helps to reduce stains and odors.
Cloth is better for many spills and much better for the environment. I will keep all your cloth tips in mind and try and cut back on paper usage.
I have started to use more cloth than paper towels. I was tired of wasting so much. I need to get better though!
Great post! I would love to make the full transition to cloth paper towels.
I definitely use both these days but am not ready to ditch paper completely.
I love the idea of cloth diaper and cloth wipes as well. I will recommend this to my friend.
I am okay with everything that helps me save the environment and since I am going to have a new baby I am going to choose to use a cloth diaper and a cloth wipes instead of a regular diapers and wipes. Thank you!
We use different types of towels for different things at home. I’ve some for spills that used regularly. – I have kids lol
I agree with these. I’ve been using cloth towels instead of paper towels when needed. Aside from helping lessen the garbage we dispose. It is also good for the environment. This must be spread for awareness.
I use a lot more cloth than I do paper towels. I am always surprised by how long paper towels last in our house now!
We have been thinking about doing this, need to look into getting a few inexpensive ones, we need a lot of them with our dogs
I hardly ever use paper towels. I love using cloths as well. They’re so much easier as well.
I’ve always looking to reduce waste, and this is a great way to do that!
This has crossed my mind before. As I find wipes and tissues causing too much waste. Glad I’m not alone.
I too use cotton towels rather than paper towels. As they are more ecofriendly.
I think it is great to stop using paper towels. I never buy them as I think they are a waste of money (since I can use and re-use cotton towels) and they are not good for the environment.
I agree with this! This will help us saving up. Thank you for this wonderful tip you shared.
Ditching paper for cloth sure makes a difference for us, so much less wasteful than using paper all the time