Getting Away From Paper Towels

Like many of you, I loved paper towels.

The ease and convenience made them very addictive.  Using paper towels had always been a guilty pleasure that became a very hard habit to break.  When we switched over to using cloth napkins at meals fairly painlessly, though, I wondered what else we could do to continue to lessen our paper towel load.

My criteria:

-My boys needed to be able to easily use the replacements.  They also needed to be small enough to be friendly to little hands.

-My husband needed to be able to easily use them.  (He had a penchant for grabbing my dish towels to mop up coffee spills.)

-They shouldn’t cause much more work for me – meaning extra LAUNDRY WORK.  (I already hate folding and putting away laundry.  Really, who doesn’t??)

-Remember, I’m cheap.  Besides being less wasteful, we’re here to save money, right?

Aren’t these adorable??!!

Well, I immediately fell in love with the idea of these attractive cloth rags bundled together like a paper towel roll.  They have snaps that attach to each other and then you roll them up and use them off of the paper towel dispenser.  They come in awesome prints and just look neat.

It only took about 2 seconds before I realized that these would NOT work in our home.  First of all is the sticker shock.  I consider the price no small investment.  Secondly, those cute prints aren’t going to stay cute for long.  We’re talking about little boys scrubbing juice spills off of the floor here.  Thirdly, and probably most importantly, I have no desire to snap and roll all of these towels every week.  Let me be clear – I’m not knocking this product.  It just doesn’t meet my earlier criteria.

I finally found the perfect solution for our family.  They will never be called pretty but they’re perfect for us.

I made smaller rags by cutting up old towels and t-shirts and finished off the edges.  This step takes no time at all using a serger and can be easily done using a zig-zag stitch on a sewing machine.  The key here is that they are all put into a drawer that a 6 and 4 year old can easily reach.  They are able to run over and grab a “towel” any time they need one – be it for a spill or for a messy face or hands.


The best part for me is that there is ZERO FOLDING on my part.  I throw them in a pile while folding clothes and most of the time, I have one of my boys scoop them up and put them in the drawer.  We’ve been using this method for about 6 months now and it’s been wonderful.

The Result:

-There is almost no extra work for me.

-The boys are able to help themselves and be a little more independent.

-I found a use for those coffee-stained dish towels.

-We aren’t dependent on paper towels anymore and do not spend money on something we just throw away.

Even Fly Guy has stopped using my pretty dish towels for his mopping needs.  That may have something to do with the strategic placement of the rag drawer under the coffee maker though . . . .

  1. Love this post! We aren’t always as frugal as we should be. I cook LOTS but we eat out too; I have started making homemade soap (fun!) and I make my own cleaning products too! The one thing I never vary from is paper towels! I don’t buy them period LOL. I just always thought it was a waste of money to buy something to throw away LOL. We usually have lots of old tshirts that I donate to thrift stores, etc., but now I know what to do with them! A-ha! Thank you for this post! It never occurred to me to just zig-zag around the cloth and use them as hand towels. I also love the no folding thing. Excellent idea! Thanks again! (We just had a funeral dinner at my house and had a member of our family came over to set everything out for us while we were at the funeral. She couldn’t BELIEVE when I told her that I only bought one roll of paper towels for her to use because I think they are a waste of trees and money LOL and that I don’t use them but got some for the dinner. I guess she didn’t like the idea that I use cloth because when we got home I found that she had gone down to her house and brought back several rolls -ugh LOL! I don’t think I’m ever going to convince her.)

    I just found your blog from Pinterest (a soap link) and LOVE IT! My own daughters are close to your age (25 and 21) and let me just say that I know very few girls as young as you who are quite so adventurous with making soap, sewing, and cooking! You’re awesome! Keep up the good work.


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