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Buttoned Up > Everyday Life > Home > How I kicked our paper towel addiciton (& you can too)

How I kicked our paper towel addiciton (& you can too)

posted by Sarah on September 19, 2012 | print article | e-mail to a friend
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  • C

    I try to avoid, but it seems like I go through cloth towels on a daily basis. The #1 thing keeping me from going paper towel free…. trying to get windows clean with cloth.

    I’m trying to use the worn out older cloth towels to clean up the disgusting stuff in the bathroom… then I just throw them out.

  • Kathleen

    I wonder though. If you use the paper towels made from recycled paper, maybe that’s a bit better? And what about the extra water, detergent & energy to wash all the cloth towels?

  • http://www.facebook.com/kaylaherman11 Kayla Herman

    Washing cloth ones is beans compared to how much energy and water it takes to recycle. Yes, it’s better for the trees, but it does use other resources to recycle.

  • MA

    In place of table napkins, I got some white nice wash cloths, which have been washed numerous times. Next time I’m going to be smart and get the ones with the bound edges so that they don’t fray. Works great, and after napkin is soiled it seems something can always use cleaning. Then just put it in the wash with a small amount of bleach, or bleach alternative, and good as new! Often times you can find these on sale at Kohls or Bed Bath & Beyond. I also want to get some larger bar towels to use for cleaing with bound edges. That is the way to go for me.

  • Jamin

    Microfiber towels are the BEST for shining surfaces, like windows and cook tops. It’s all I have now, auto parts stores have great prices on bundles of them.

  • http://twitter.com/shelbycolehill shelbycolehill

    For windows, i use microfibre cloths. Streak free!

  • Lijre1

    I keep a roll on hand to clean up dog accients, but use cloth for most everything else. If I happen to dry my hands on a paper towel I lay it on counter to dry and use it over and over to dry my hands. They can last a couple days and when close to “done” I will use to wipe something up. By the way I live alone so a paper towel can last a good while except when used for dogs.

  • Mary

    I tried the ‘no-paper-towel’ thing. I, too, went cold turkey after sticking up on a bunch of cloth towels. I had little containers all over the house so that a cloth towel was always within reach. It took about a week for me to get over feeling like I was being wasteful using a whole, clean, cloth towel when a paper towel would have been so much quicker/easier. By the time I fully embraced it, I realized what a waste it seemed to be–more so than the paper towels. First, I destroyed at least a dozen towels cleaning up different messes. Second, I had to start doing a separate load of laundry just for the towels because I didn’t like putting towel-crud in the same load with my underwear and socks. Third, I had to start using bleach again just to clean the towels. I finally ‘threw in the towel,’ so to speak, and bought some paper towels! I still use the cloth towels for small stuff, but I use the paper towels for yucky messes!

  • SarahButtonedUp

    I agree with the others – microfiber towels (I use e-cloth) are simply amazing. Streak free every time.

  • SarahButtonedUp

    Kathleen – recycled is definitely better than non-recycled. But keep in mind that I don’t do a separate wash for my dirty cloths. I throw them right in with the rest of the regular wash. I do use a scoop of OxyClean if things look extra grimy. But most often, they are just fine with regular detergent.

  • SarahButtonedUp

    Mary – you made me laugh! Thanks for sharing your experience. I would look at the positive and say that you probably have cut your use of paper towels dramatically since you only use them for yucky messes.

    With that said – why do you feel so grossed out by washing towels with the other clothes? Okay, I get it if you have to clean up throw up or some nasty pet excretion – I give those things their own wash too. But for everyday dirt and grime and mess? I’d push you to figure out why that grosses you out.

    And why do the towels have to be super white? I don’t necessarily have the answer – but maybe the association between clean and white is

  • Mary

    I think the white=clean thing is a big part of it! I disliked having towels with stains in all my containers. Probably a silly thought, but it just looked unpleasant when a towel was grabbed for food purposes.

    And I have admit I was learning to work with cast iron during this time and had to strip and re-season several pans. It was then that I destroyed the towels and started to do a separate wash for the others because the grime was really black and gooey. I should have used paper towels, but had banished them all already!

    I do still have my towel containers all over the house and they are still my go-to for spills and general messes! I use to go through at least a roll of paper towels a week in the kitchen alone, but now it takes at least 3 weeks.

    I haven’t given up! It is all part of my goal to go as natural as possible. I started making my own detergents and cleaning products, too!

  • Anne

    I use newspaper for this, completely streak-free! I know it is paper and ultimately disposable, but it is reusing paper that I would otherwise simply recycle, so it is green in that sense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mmbellian Mary Dickhaus Bellian

    You need to wash towels daily if you are using the reusable cloth ones. There are many germs on them after one clean up let alone using them for 2 to 3 days. Now your bath towel is a different story. After taking a shower or bath hopefully you are relatively clean using that towel a few times is less disgusting.

  • http://twitter.com/karadavies karadavies

    I try to change my tea towels every night. I’ve got a huge stash (mostly from my mom) that I rotate through with the seasons. (A cute Christmas tea towel hanging off the oven roack just looks nice.) If I’ve wiped up a spill, in the laundry bin it goes. A fresh one from the drawer and off we go. I do keep papertowels on hand for wiping up spills like eggs, super messy things that I’d rather not have going through my washing machine (like spaghetti sauce and the gunk from cleaning off my stovetop). Other than that, just towels for me please.

    Another tip I heard somewhere was to toss out your paper napkins and use washcloths instead. Buy a dozen cloth washcloths in a dark color and use those at mealtimes, then wash with the rest of your laundry as normal. Easy way to kick your paper habit!

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