Throwing In The {Paper} Towels!

In my New Year’s Day post I hinted at “going paperless” in 2012 and said I would share more later. Ready or not…I’m ready to share. :-)

A couple of months ago I kept noticing how easy (TOO easy!) it had become in our house for us (I’ll take some blame here too!) to just grab a paper towel from the roll that sits right next to the sink whenever we washed our hands…or whenever we spilled something…just whenever. My thought process about this sort of thing usually goes something like this: “Well that’s a waste of money!!”, followed quickly by, “That is such a WASTE. Period.”

I decided to read up on “green” ideas for dealing with wasteful paper products in the home and found some interesting stuff. (FYI..none of these articles ever mentioned eliminating TOILET PAPER…or I would NOT be writing this! Some things are sacrosanct! Toilet paper is one of those things.)

Since it’s a brand new year…I figured no time like the present to give it a try! Afterall, I’m very close to paperless already. I got rid of the dryer sheets, I got rid of the Clorox cleaning wipes, I’m TRYING to use reusable grocery sacks (I’m so forgetful!). Paper towels and paper napkins were really the only things I was still using on a regular basis in the kitchen. I wasn’t quite sure how I as going to find a replacement for those…when I found an inspiring blog post here by about substituting cloth for paper.
She simply purchased cloth towels and keeps them by the sink and on the table, just like regular paper towels and napkins.
Love For Earth

While she bought her UNpaper towels from the Etsy shop, Love For Earth for $11.75 per dozen…I couldn’t quite bring myself to pay that much. Especially because I was certain I was going to need WAY more than one dozen! So I headed to my friendly neighborhood Wally World and got (2) sets of these flour sack towels for $5.48 each. Each set had 5 towels and since these towels are HUGE (28″ x 29″)…I cut each one into fourths and ended up with 40 perfectly-sized towels for under $11.

Mainstays 5pk Flour Sack Kitchen Towel

My daughter decided to get into the act and cut and folded many of them into these cute little triangles. I also am going to leave them in this basket by the side of the sink (where the paper towel roll USED to be) to ENCOURAGE THEIR USE!  And, believe it or not, it seems to be WORKING!

As a matter of fact, I already washed and dried a 1/2 dozen of them because since I didn’t sew the edges on these…I was a little concerned they might get badly frayed.

Result: SLIGHTLY frayed but just as serviceable as before.

Just out of the dryer. Wrinkly…some fraying. I could have just folded and put back in basket, but I decided to
give a quick spritz with water and used my hands to smooth out. Then folded. Perfectly fine for me.

I personally couldn’t see finishing all those edges on a sewing machine….(40 cloths x 4 edges each=160 edges!)…for a glorified paper towel. The THREAD probably would have ended up costing more than the towels! But that’s just ME, you might LOVE to sew and could whip them out in no time. In that case, I say GO FOR IT! :-)

Cutting back on paper in a paper-FILLED world is today’s…..

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  1. Anonymous says

    I use a few cheap paper napkins for a few wipe ups but all cloth otherwise.
    Best thing is having a small bottle of clorox under the sink, soak all the kitchen rags in a small bowl for a few minutes, with hot water. Dry and reuse.
    Also the Walmart washrags in bundles, I used on all my babies butts and everything else.
    Newspaper and vinegar for windows!

  2. Rob and Deanna says

    I use rags for most everything. Wondering where the lady towards the top of the comments gets dark colored flour-sack towels?! I use flour-sack towels for a LOT, but they look terrible. Can't get the stains out, even in bleach. To eliminate the fuzzies when cleaning windows, I don't put any fabric softener in with my flour-sack towels and anything, really, that I don't want to leave fuzzies behind. Flour-sack towels minus fabric softener are AWESOME for shining faucets, mirrors and windows.

  3. elb says

    Going paperless is great….but the only thing I could think of was how much water/energy you are wasting by having to wash towels as frequently as you'd be throwing away paper towels. It's a tough trade off, I guess..

  4. elb says

    Going paperless is great….but the only thing I could think of was how much water/energy you are wasting by having to wash towels as frequently as you'd be throwing away paper towels. It's a tough trade off, I guess..

    • texasmomof5` says

      I like you was concerned about the cost of washing all my fabric towels, but then I saw a difference in how much trash we weren’t throwing away … I have 5 kiddos … thats a lot of paper towels and trash

    • Janice says

      I do not feel like it has increased my laundry. It is not another load, these fit into a my normal load of bath towels!

  5. Anonymous says

    Hello all!! Just popped over from Pinterest and caught this topic. About a year ago I switched us from paper napkins to cloth ones. Some I found at a local thrift store and some I made myself. I purchased some inexpensive muslin fabric at a local fabric store. Instead of cutting and hemming it to the size that I needed, I simply took my scissors and made small cuts at the edges of the fabric to the size I wanted my napkins to be, grabbed the sides and ripped. Fabric will tear straight. I did crosswise strips, then vertical ones on the crosswise strips. I did add some embroidery, but I left the edges raw. I didn't have to worry about cutting a straight line(cause I can't). The first time that I passed my napkins out to guests was really interesting. They weren't quite sure what to do and people were saying that they were to nice to use and asking for paper ones!!! I had to convince them that it was ok to use them. Something else that we have started doing, instead of one hand towel in our guest bathroom, I took an idea from upscale hotels. On our sink sits a basket of white washcloths that have been rolled up. I think that I payed $4.00 for 12 at wally world. On the floor sits another basket for the ones that people have used to dry their hands. I think that I might have to put a sign up though explaining what they are for, because even though I "prime" the basket on the floor with a few cloths, there are usually not that many in there after a party. After the party they simply get tossed in with the next load of towels. Also just wanted to put in that I attended culinary school and the only thing that they used paper towels for was drying hands as required by health codes.

    I also started using handkerchiefs instead of tissues because of skin issues. Much nicer especially when made from t shirt material.

    I think that fabric is much nicer for towels, napkins and handkerchiefs and do a little victory dance every time I fold one and put it away.Sorry for the long post, but just wanted to share how we are transitioning into a greener home.

  6. Kelly says

    I too found your blog through Pinterest and love it! I recently decided to make my own laundry detergent, body wash, hand soap, and shaving gel. With such success, I started looking for other ways to trim/stretch my budget and make my home a litter greener at the same time. I was so excited to see this blog entry and I knew I wanted to try it right away! I used WalMart's free online ordering and in-store pick up to get the 2 packs of flour sack towels last night. I brought them home and decided to cut each sheet into 6ths, similar to the size of regular paper towels. I also did this in hopes that I could wrap them around each other and continue to use my vertical paper towel holder that is currently on the counter. It worked! I layered one upon the other, overlapping by about 3-4 inches, rolled them up and then placed another 1/6 on top of the one before. Each 'roll' will hold about 24 1/6 towels as they are not long enough to make the distance around the 'roll' as it grows larger. They really do pull out like a regular paper towel roll! I took the remainder 1/6s and rolled them up into 'rolls' and have them stored for later use too. And, now I don't have to spend the money to buy a basket or take up more counter space (I have such little to begin with!) I also used an old lingerie mesh laundry bag, attached by two removable sticky hooks, inside the cabinet below the sink to collect dirty towels to wash later. Thanks for getting me jump started!

  7. Jill Nystul says

    Andrea…I LOVE that suggestion! Such a great idea for those who aren't ready to "go all the way". lol. That's what I've done too. I keep a roll for icky emergencies under the sink. Thanks!

    Anony…pinking shears! Of course. That's what my Mom used to do. Never would have thought of it. Thank you!

    candyn…I'm so glad you found my blog too! :-) You sound like me. The paper towel thing was bugging me for a long time, but I didn't really know what else to do. Yay for Pinterest and Yay for sharing ideas! I love it!
    This may sound crazy (but that's not unusual for me) but this morning as I was folding a batch of these UNpaper towels I had washed to put back in the basket, I just had this good feeling. Instead of resenting that I was doing a "chore", I felt like I was doing a "good thing". Silly huh? ;-)
    Anyway, thanks for stopping by! I hope you keep coming back!

  8. candyn says

    I just found your blog through Pinterest and I'm so glad that I did! You share the most amazing tips. I'm so excited to try all sorts of things I've found here, starting with this one. Our paper towel use has bothered me for too long. This is a perfect solution! I love flour sack towels, just never made the mental leap to cut them down and leave them in easy to reach places. Yay!

  9. Anonymous says

    Good idea! Thought on the fraying: you could cut them with pinking sheers to reduce the amount they fray.

    • Joy Keegans says

      I love it! We throw away far too much, and if our President would instantly halt importing and exporting trade with China and Taiwan (and others), the cases of hoarding sickness would probably go away, and many other things would eventually get back under control. Our country needs to return to where it was some 35-40 years ago, and if that means paying more for clothing and shoes, I am willing. Who needs 20 pairs of shoes and jeans, anyway? Choices have gotten way out of hand, and the spies are making fools out of us all. We should all begin a major boycott. And, now, it is the poultry that is to be shipped to China – all beyound our control – yuck! I can promise you I won’t be eating it – write your Congressman or phone him or her and soon!!!


  1. […] About 3 weeks ago I wrote about how it was one of my goals in the new year to do away with  paper towel waste in my home. Thanks to some inspiration from I decided to replace our paper towel holder (that was WAY too easy to make use of right next to the sink!) with some homemade cloths made from cut up flour sack towels. You can read the whole post HERE. […]

  2. […] If there is a small spill, I use the sponge.  If I need to dry a pot or dish, I use my dish towels.  We use cloth napkins with our meals.  At this point, going paperless seems easy, right? Wrong. What would I use for draining bacon? Drying produce? Drying hands?  Sure, dish towels could be used but I feel that its more of a “towel” than a napkin. Then the cloth napkins don’t really soak up anything. My inspiration? Flour sacks. […]