“unpaper” towels.

I used to have a bitter-sweet relationship with paper towels. I loved them for their convenience, hated them for costing me money. It seemed like I was always buying paper towels. Then, I got addicted to the “fancy” paper towels. You know what I’m talking about. Those things aren’t cheap. A thought dawned on me that was revolutionary in its dumbness. Paper towels are basically trying to be towels. The stronger, more absorbent, more flexible paper towels are better and more expensive. The cheaper ones might as well be tissue. But this wanna-be towel disappears. It’s still crappy enough that you can’t keep it. And this is a plus how!? What the heck!? Why can’t I just use a damn towel? Why am I wasting my $$ when I could be buying Tillamook Old Fashioned Vanilla ice cream?

So alas, I made some unpaper towels. And guess what? Since the day I bought the fabric for $4 on clearance at a store last summer, my only expense has been a little bit of water. Boo Yeah! Take that paper towel brain washers! I’ve seen some tutorials where people make unpaper towels with a snap system so that you can tear them off a paper towel roll for convenience. The towels I made are all thrown in a drawer. Haha…I don’t want to spend time re-rolling paper towels every time I wash them, but I gotta say it’s cute looking.

Some suggestions for anyone deciding to purge of their paper towel buying habits:

1. If you want to make your own as opposed to buying them, use absorbent material in a dark color. I bought a thin terry cloth material in a dark purple color. You can’t see any discoloration whatsoever after a year of use.

2. I’ve found three sizes which are best: 13″x10″ or so, this size is great for covering things in the microwave, big spills, etc. 6″x10″ or so we use a lot when cleaning off the countertops or other jobs around the house. Also 6″x6″ for quick clean ups. Cut them to size and use a zig-zag stitch around the edges to prevent fraying. Wash after you sew the edges and trim stray threads before first use.

3. Make lots of them. You won’t be able to make it with only 4 of these things. Just count how many paper towels you use on an average day and triple that number. Try to do a load of laundry at least every 3 days. Not just because you don’t want them sitting there wet for more than 3 days, but because you won’t be running to grocery store to replenish…you have to wash them :)

4. You may think you can just use your dish towels for spills, etc. I would highly recommend you at least come up with a way of distinguishing the two. You’ll find that your dish towels will get stained and take on a smell when drying off dishes. Remember you are using these for everything from rotten vegetable juice at the bottom of the fridge, to cleaning the bathroom sink. Even though they are technically clean after being washed…they won’t look it (hence the dark color of ours.)

5. Have some disinfectant spray handy. We’re vegetarians so we don’t think about this often, but you really need to be conscious raw meat juices, etc. Maybe have some plastic sacks handy where you can store your used unpaper towels until the next load of laundry, and always disinfect your work area after preparing meat.

6. There are times when I get annoyed with unpaper towels. Mainly because of my own laziness. Just keep telling yourself, “I’m saving money and decreasing waste. I am awesome.”


6 thoughts on ““unpaper” towels.

  1. HI, Haley! Just found your blog – how fun. You most likely know this, but the best disinfectant to use in the kitchen is vinegar! Not only does it disinfect surfaces, but it also disinfects the towel you use. No, the vinegar smell doesn’t remain on surfaces or on the towel. Vinegar is also a great fabric softener so when you wash your towels, the vinegar boosts the detergent, softens the fabric and helps clean out the washer.

    • I’m glad you found me! Yes Vinegar is great! I’m still using some Shaklee products given to us a wedding present (four years and I haven’t had to buy a single bottle of cleaner). Whenever that runs out I’ll start making my own. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  2. Bio-kleen bac out is awesome for stinky cloth diapers so I assume it will be for dish rags. Also, hydrogen peroxide. You probably already knew this thoigh

  3. Rather than making new ones (I’m not about to take the time to sew the edges!) I use the bathroom wash cloths that are getting a little old, bleach them and return them to the kitchen, where I also keep a re-purposed plastic covered garbage can. Since sponges and towels hold so much bacteria when used over and over, I keep 2 drawers full and throw them in the garbage can after just a couple uses (or when they’re a little dirty). Even though I have a few more towels to wash, I don’t wash any more often, but I always have a clean non-paper towel to use in the kitchen.

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