why we stopped using paper towels (and how you can do it too!)

David and I believe environmental stewardship should be important to all followers of Christ. God created the Garden of Eden and then the first man to be the caretaker of it.  Genesis 2:15 says: The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.  Now, we don’t all have our personal Edens to tend, but that’s no reason we should disregard the natural world!

In our home, we always try to reduce our waste, live as naturally as possible, focus on sustainability, be mindful of our eco footprint, and consider what sort of planet we want to leave for future generations.  We realized one of the biggest forms of waste was paper towels.  They were used for degreasing cooked meat, cleaning up spills, there was a roll in the bathroom for cleaning, one by the basement bar, and another for wiping the glass on the wood stove. Over the course of a month we used more paper towel than I care to admit!

why we stopped using paper towels

Admittedly, we didn’t see anything wrong with using so much paper towel, since it can be composted.  But one day we ran out and didn’t want to go to the store, so we decided to use an old dish towel to drain our breakfast bacon.  The cloth towel worked so much better than the paper versions!  After this success, we tried using cloth for all our other paper towel needs and were pleased with the results.  The cloths worked just as well, if not better than paper and were MUCH more cost effective since we could reuse them.

Here are some tips to help persuade you to make the switch!

Have designated cloth towels for each room/purpose.  Keep some in the kitchen for food prep and cleanup, then have some just for the bathroom, etc.  If you are purchasing new cloths you may wish to have a colour system, or buy cloths of different materials for each different use.

Have more than you need. Paper towels are handy because they come in such a big roll, so help make the transition easier by stocking more reusable cloths than you think you need.  We have a stack of about a dozen old dish towels in the kitchen that we use for cleaning, and then a basket of old tee shirts for the rest of the houses.  This works well because it ensures we always have at least one clean cloth in between laundry days.

Know which cloth works best for each job. Have you ever tried to wipe up a liquid spill using a microfiber cloth?  It’s very difficult!  Designate your microfiber for dusting, and use a cotton cloth in the kitchen or bathroom instead.

Think before you buy! I realize not everyone can go out and purchase new cleaning cloths at the drop of a hat.  My suggestion is to think about what you already own that can be used to clean.  Old fuzzy socks (you know those comfy chenille pairs?) can be used as a duster, and tee shirts that can’t be worn are great for general cleaning.  If you need something to degrease meat or scrub your oven, I suggest old dish towels.

You may be thinking there are some drawbacks to cloth towels but I honestly can’t think of any!  They obviously get dirty, but can be washed out and used again.  If stains bother you, consider using darker cloth, otherwise just launder them with your regular loads.  If you use cloths for grease clean up, I suggest washing them ASAP in hot water to get them clean.

Have I convinced you to make the switch, or are you still on the fence?  Let me know in the comments!

About Christina

20-something; rural dwelling; wife to David; homeowner; pretty good cook; wearer of skirts; friend to all cats.

6 comments on “why we stopped using paper towels (and how you can do it too!)

  1. I stopped using them when we got married coz we were so broke it was one thing we could cut back on. I totally didn’t miss them. Ditto cling film (plastic film wrap). I just put a plate over the top of leftovers in the fridge and if I’m reheating stuff in the oven I’d have to use foil anyway. I love cutting down!

  2. Wow great post. I use paper towels for draining grease. But not for much else. I’d never thought of this. Maybe I’ll try. It’s only me and my husband now and a big ole hairy dog! Don’t know if my laundry will adapt to this method. But I’m open to trying. Thanks for sharing. I’m following you now.
    Come over and visit me.

    • Thanks for commenting! My husband and I (and a cat!) are the only inhabitants of our home and we manage to get a full load often enough!

  3. We’ve made the switch too :) Not only is it practicing stewarding but also financial prudence! :) Thank you for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

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