Can My Family Survive the Decision to Replace Paper Towels?
OK, maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic but for my family the process has begun. We are using the last of the paper towels in our house. I’ve put them on notice. We are not purchasing any more!
Why would I do that and why do so many people think that it is impossible to go without paper towels?
What did they do a few generation ago when there weren’t any? Well, they used rags of course. Nothing was wasted.
I’m actually excited about giving up my paper towels, although I’m not so sure about my family. I expect they will come along and get used to it eventually.
My little German grandma would carry a slightly damp washcloth in a plastic bag in her purse and you could always count on her to pull out that damp washcloth when we needed a face wash. Much better than my Mom’s wet thumb rub!
I Have Several Reasons to Replace Paper Towels at My House
- I’m looking for a more cost effective way of doing things. Frugal gal at work here! It may not save me thousands of dollars, but every bit helps stretch the budget. Even $100 a year is an extra $100 in my pocket.
- Now that we dumped our garbage service, I either have to compost my used paper towels or burn them. It’s not so easy to dispose of them now. Why not just eliminate it from the garbage equation all together.
- It might sound corny, but I’m doing my part to save trees – it takes one to two trees to make a roll of paper towels. That’s 60 trees still standing because of me.
- Using cloth is a more effective way to clean. Paper towels tend to shred when you scrub with them. Plus one good cotton rag will absorb as well as several handfuls of paper towel.
Blogger Trent over at the Simple Dollar says: You’ve gotta have a process. Decide – What will you use instead, where will you keep the rags to be used and where will you put the rags to be washed?
“What would my great grandmother do?” She lived through the Depression and always had tons of great ideas for doing little things like this. Her solution would have been obvious – she would have just handed me a cloth towel and given me a look that said, “Come on, Trent, you’re smarter than that!”
First, I purchased 100 cloth napkins for $5 at the cleaners. Check with your local dry cleaner and see if they have a hotel or restaurant customer that is getting rid of old napkins. I didn’t care if they were stained. These went into two easy to access drawers in my kitchen and laundry room.
The great thing about these is, of course, the price. It will take us a long time to go through 100 napkins so I can set some aside for dinner and use some for scrubbing or wiping up messes. I also send one with hubby’s lunch each day, it gets him used to using them!
Then I rounded up all my old, stained washcloths and hand towels and put them into a basket under the sink in the kitchen, and bathroom, for easy access. I also added my microfiber cloths too. Now we have a grab and go rag for every use.
I learned to make my own antibacterial wipes last year and they have worked pretty well, especially on the go and in the car. Now I need to rework that without paper towels. More on that in a later post.
But It’s Not Sanitary!
I beg to differ…I use a new cloth towel for each messy cleaning job and the system is working well. Of course I’m not going to use these cloth towels for days on end and I’m not going to wipe the cutting board I’ve just used to de-bone chicken and then wipe down the counters. That wouldn’t be sanitary! So you need to be mindful about how you are using them.
I have some trusty natural cleaning products that I make and keep on hand to help with the whole cleaning process. Once a towel is dirty, I throw it in an extra sink in my laundry room.
Then when I’m doing laundry I grab enough towels to round out the load. Another bucket under your sink would work just as well. Just grab and go next wash day.
The Life Journey Of A Bath Towel by deRuiter
First the bath towel and its colorful comrades are purchased at a store for the purchase price plus sales tax. The towels are hung on the wall as decoration in the designer bathroom, or used occasionally until the family redecorates.
The expensive and perfectly good new towels are then sold at a yard sale for a dollar each to me. They’re used in our all white bathroom while they are nice and fluffy, and the cheery colors are fine because they don’t clash with white walls and fixtures.
When the towels get thin and worn, they’re demoted to kitchen towels for drying dishes. When they become really worn, they’re cut into dish cloth size and used instead of paper towels. When they become almost threadbare, the ever smaller bits of towels go on a special shelf and are used for cleaning pet vomit, food with broken glass and other nasty stuff, and discarded.
The rags are washed along with the heavy work clothes, so once the original dollar is spent, there is no expense. Many times at yard or estate sales I’ve been given bath towels to use as padding for fragile items so there isn’t even the original dollar cost. If you have all cotton towels (never buy any other kind!) you can even put them in a compost heap which you won’t be turning for a year, and if mixed in with other organic waste, they will eventually become humus.
Not Ready to Replace Your Paper Towels Yet?
Consider purchasing Bambooee® sustainable, organic towels. These are machine washable and reusable. Each sheet is about .80 cents each and you can wash one sheet of Bambooee® up to 100 times!
Bambooee Reusable Bamboo Towel ( Single roll, each roll comes with 20 sheets of Bamboee Towels)
I’ve noticed that my family is nursing along that last roll of paper towels. I catch them reaching for it and then changing their mind. Maybe they really are going through withdrawals. Set up a new system of rags, towels, sponges and cleaning products and replace paper towels in your house. You’ll be glad you did.
I use cloth napkins and even handkerchiefs, but I admit, I have yet to give up on paper towels for cat vomit inside the house. It’s the one thing I can’t bring myself to use cloth for.
Valerie Z says
What do you do for food grease when cooking? I have slowly switched over to cloth for most things. But I still keep a roll around for food grease and pet accidents.
Rochelle Hobbs says
Just curious if you have found an alternative for food grease? My family is working on becoming more self-sufficient. I like this idea over paper towels, but the food grease issue came to mind. Thanks
Hi Valeria. We keep old “bits” of towels to use for bacon and other greasy things. It’s a use it and toss thing. I’m not sure if that’s the best way to do it, but it’s the best things we’ve come up with so far/
When we cook bacon we place the pieces over a stainless steel cooling rack on a cookie sheet to drip excess fat. The fat in the cookie sheet is then added to the drippings jar for use in suet cakes.
WV Bon Bon Queen says
DH and I have been using our thinner dish towels for napkins for years. I use them usually for a few days, and as we are using them, I leave them on the back of our respectful chairs in the kitchen. Makes for a good napkin, we grab them when we are eating something in the living room, or where ever. I hate to waste my money on something, that I am going to throw away. Going frugal makes a person that way I guess. LOL I use other old towels for clean-up chores, spills, etc. I then just put them in the wash when I am doing laundry, these are not used for drying dishes or anything else, just clean-up chores.
Deborah Davis says
It’s so wonderful to read your well-thought out process for transitioning from paper towels to cloth. I can totally relate to the problems and pitfalls associated with the transition since my family is experiencing them. I love the idea of approaching the cleaners for low-cost used clothes. What a great, cost-effective solution.
Thank you so much for sharing this very helpful post on the Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Blog Hop! I appreciate it!
Cloth diapers make a great replacement for paper towels and last forever.
It’s fantastic! and we all need to get it for gruanted.