towel vs rag

How We Stopped Using Paper Towels and Paper Napkins

By secretly replacing the large stash of paper towels in my house with a large stack of cloth napkins, microfiber towels, dishrags, skoy cloths I have effectively eliminated paper towels and paper napkins from the House of Brown.

I estimate that we’ve saved about $200 for the year. Not to mention the reclaimed storage space. (Do you realize how much space a 30 roll value pack of paper towels takes up?)

Here’s how you can stop using paper towels in 10 easy steps:

1. Stop buying paper towels – this seems obvious, but necessity is truly the mother of invention, and when they stopped being in the house, we started getting creative

2. Use cloth napkins at dinner – Bought mine at the dollar store, but you can also sew them yourself

3. Use microfiber cloths to clean up spills - these are REALLY absorbent and great for spills, drying dishes, exploding blenders, and cat vomit (don’t ask)

4. Use cloth napkins or to cover food in the microwave - I know. I know. “Stop using the microwave.” I’m working on it.

5. Use Skoy cloths – these are great for scrubbing and cleaning

6. Use dish towels – We use them to well, uh, dry the dishes. I also use microfiber cloths for this, they make the job go quicker.

7. Use newspaper to clean the mirrors and windows - It works really well, so do cut up t shirts!

8. Take a cloth napkin with you – I keep one in the car and one in my bag  in case I get takeout and they forget to give me napkins, or my eyeliner starts running, or someone put their wet umbrella on a subway seat…

9. It’ll help you change your diet – You might not fry your food, if there’s nothing to drain it on right? (Although, you can still use a cloth napkin for this in a pinch.)

10. They’re easy to wash – Skoy cloths and sponges can all get washed in the dishwasher, microfiber towels, dishtowels and washcloths can go in the laundry

  • Chicago Green Girl has some great green reasons on her site as to why you should STOP using paper towels.

You can buy skoy cloths, microfiber towel and more at the Savvy Shop!

Print Friendly

15 thoughts on “How We Stopped Using Paper Towels and Paper Napkins

  1. b.

    Does the benefit of cloth towels outweigh the extra loads of laundry? I’m thinking about doing this, and I’ve read about doing this before, but this question just occurred to me.

  2. MandiFran

    I use cloth dishtowels for washing, drying, spills and they don’t get washed everyday. They get rinsed in really hot water and soap and hung to dry until the next use probably for a week. The cloth napkins don’t get washed unless they are severely stained. They can last a week or two. I LOVE my microfiber cloths! They clean almost anything with just water. I have to do laundry anyway and those few extra towels don’t take up that much room.

  3. Sarah

    One of my questions is storage – I have some of those j-cloths and they get sooo manky! How do you keep them so that they’re not a safety hazard?

  4. Pingback: uberVU - social comments

  5. Savvy Post author

    @B. Good point. I use 4 Skoy Cloths, 4 dishcloths, 4 or 5 microfiber towels and about 6 cloth napkins. They’re all different colors and so they each get washed with different loads, so it doesn’t really require any extra loads. Like MandiFran I rinse with soap and water. But then I also spray them with my Homemade Fruit and Veggie Wash. The vinegar really helps to keep any mold or icky stuff away.

  6. Pingback: 15 Healthy Green Ways to Save Money On Your Grocery Bill Now | Savvy Brown

  7. Pingback: I Found My Favorite Hair Styling Tool at an Auto Parts Store | Savvy Brown

  8. Pingback: There Are No Polar Bears in Brooklyn | Savvy Brown

  9. TraceyJoy

    I will have to start implementing some of these ideas into my household. Frankly I don’t always have money to go to Costco and get the jumbo pack of paper towels and napkins. We used Bounty and Viva Paper towels ever since I can remember. I did make the switch to 7 Generations recycles paper goods. Again the cost again & the use of paper. When you can reuse what you have verse spending money on a disposable product, I think that’s a good plan. I’m working on eliminating the microwave myself. I bought a tea pot and I unplug the microwave when not in use. So I have to think to I really need to plug it in. I’ll wait until it stop working and it won’t be replaced. Excellent blog, so very glad I found you.

  10. 365 Green

    Great article. I too have stopped using paper towels. It’s so easy to do. We use cloth napkins at the table and rags made from old t-shirts or worn out towels for cleaning and wiping up spills. They all just get tossed into the laundry with our regular loads, so there is really no “extra” laundry.

    About the comment regarding j-cloths – I would recommend leaving these on the supermarket shelf. They will eventually end up in a landfill somewhere, so are not really a green choice.

    Glad you are considering getting rid of the micro-wave. We gave ours away 2 years ago and have never missed it.

    Great blog!! Glad I found you.

  11. SisterBoyd

    I have a question…what do you dry your hands with when you wash them? And what about the cleanliness of this? I have a son and a father in my house – yes a boy and a grown man who are the cleanest. So my concern is germs. So how are you ensuring that germs aren’t spread if you’re using these clothes to wipe counters, dry dishes, and in my house dry not so clean hands?

  12. 365 Green

    @SisterBoyd,

    In our house we have separate cloths/towels for all those things. We use a wash cloth for washing dishes, a dish towel for drying them (or we just let them air dry), and hand towels for drying our hands. Rags are kept under the counter for cleaning up spills, cleaning counters, etc.

  13. SisterBoyd

    Well I found some reuseable clothes/wipes at Target today and I still bought the huge pack of paper towels. My father, even though he isn’t 100% and can’t do much cooking or cleaning, will not do the green stuff. My son, on the other hand, was told to start using the clothes/wipes. We’ll see how this works. I’m spending too much money on paper towels and I’m tired of fussing about it. ;)

  14. Hudson

    Trying to design a product to make the process of using cloth towels over paper towels easier. I would love some feedback on how you guys take care of your cloth towels after they are dirty? Do they just sit on your counter? Do they go right into the washer? I think this step could be easier, thanks for any input!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>