The Why: Using reusable cloths and towels saves money and time (the time spent running to the store for paper towels!) and reduces waste. Plus, it saves space in my linen closet because I don't have to find a place to store the big bulky extra rolls of paper towel. Sounds good to me!
The How: We actually stopped using paper towels to clean up most of our messes ages ago. We keep a stack of absorbent bar-mop towels in a kitchen drawer with our dish cloths and dish towels and my kids know to reach for them when they spill something or make a mess. I have to buy a new package about once a year because they endure a lot of wear and tear, but the 7 bucks I spend each year is far less than I would spend if we were reaching for paper towel every time one of the kids spills their milk.
I did, however, still buy paper towel for cleaning glass. I tried using newspaper for the job but found that to be frustrating and unsuccessful. So now I've purchased a pack of 2 microfiber cloths. The pack cost me 3 dollars and now I don't need to buy paper towels all year. One small purchase to save a dozen more.
By the way, I use a half and half solution of vinegar and water as my window cleaner. I've tried plain water and plain vinegar, but the half and half combination works better than either of those things on it's own.
But what about....umm...you know.....icky messes? Like, what if a child vomits on the floor? Well, if one of the children vomits on the floor I guess I will just have to whisk away the worst of the (I really hope you're not eating right now) chunks with a piece of newspaper and use an old grungy rag to clean up the rest of the mess. I can handle that...I think.
The Verdict: Reusable towels don't create any extra work for me because they just get thrown in with the daily laundry, and they save us money, are better for the environment, and take up less space. Fingers crossed that we avoid the stomach flu!
We are doing one small thing every day for a year to create a simpler, quieter, more intentional life. Take a moment to read all About Us, check out The Rules of our year long project and sign up for our RSS feed or "like" us on facebook so that you can follow our journey to radical simplicity!
What about draining bacon? I've contemplated stopping completely as well...in fact, bacon is the only thing I use paper towel for.ReplyDelete
Now my husband is a different story...
Hi Cori! We make our bacon in the oven on a cooling rack placed on a cookie sheet...no draining necessary and sooooo much easier!Delete
Duh! Great idea ;)Delete
I'd love to give up paper towels, too, but my husband would be extremely hard to convince. I'm pretty sure he'd never go for it. I've been cloth diapering for over a year now, and he's still not really on board with that! But Cori raised a good question, what about draining bacon and other fried foods??ReplyDelete
I gave up paper towels about 3 years ago. The transition was actually pretty easy for my family, I just refused to buy paper anymore, so my family had to figure out how to use cloth instead. I bought some cheesecloth type, lint-free sacking-type towels to replace them. I even drain my fried foods on them. I rinse them well and wash them with the other linens, and I've never had a problem with them transferring the "fried" smell to other laundry. (I also bake my bacon.)ReplyDelete
As for vomit, I use old rags. I clean up the "chunks" with them and then rinse the towel in the kitchen sink. I wash in the laundry as usual, no problems.
I can imagine my husband's face when I tell him we are no longer buying paper towels =)
PS- Do you have any buttons designed for this blog/project? I'd love to have you linked up on my blog!
Oh Nessa, I should definitely make a button! Thanks for the reminder. I'll do that soon. :)Delete
Loving your new blog! I will be following this one as well. I really appreciate all the tips you share because they are realistic in time, money, and ease of use. We are still not ready to give up the paper towels 100% but we are down to less than a roll per month.ReplyDelete
We also find that 90% of our paper towels are used in the bacon department. But now I have a rack for that (and lots of other things).ReplyDelete
I use my oldest rags for cleaning up the messiest of messy messes and then toss them since it was time anyways.
I am adding you to my reader roll now (joining your other blog).
I was going to say 'I've done this' but I haven't!! ahahahah... I seldom use them, and i make them a little 'hard to reach' to I consider a tea towel first.ReplyDelete
Can I suggest doing without clingwrap/film... takes some planning and purchasing (check our abeego) but I've done it and I feel better that that's one type of waste I'm not creating.
We gave up paper towels YEARS ago, probably 10 or more. I just couldn't see the point in throwing trees in the garbage. It took a long time to convert my husband, and my friends still mock me about it, but I love using just dish cloths, dish towels, and various rags to take care of life's spills & messes.ReplyDelete
I too have tried to make a conscious effort to stop buying paper towels. I was doing fairly well until they asked for paper towels at my son's preschool and we ended up buying a ginormous pack and keeping some in the house. I try to use them as little as possible, using towels for just about everything including the gross stuff (I keep a couple bath towels set aside for just this sort of thing). If the mess is especially icky I just immediately start a load of laundry and wash whatever needs washing.ReplyDelete
Wow, this Year of less challenge sounds great! I'm really going to think about things that my family and I can do. Thanks for sharing this amazing idea.ReplyDelete
I gave up paper towls this past year and love not throwing money away. The only thing i had to buy some paper towls for was cleaning the oven...i couldnt come up with a reusable version of that. Any suggestions?ReplyDelete
PS im newly enough married that i dont have the grungy old towls...
Old clothes can be grungy ragsDelete
I also gave up paper towels about two years ago. I started finding brand new reusable napkins at garage sales! I now have a ton of them. Another idea is when you go out for fast food grab some napkins and save the ones you don't use for bacon :) Coffee filters work great instead of paper towel for cleaning windows and mirrors, but the glass towels are the best. @MrsBecky try your husbands old t-shirts or other old clothes you would otherwise toss. I also cut up old t-shirts for cleaning windows and mirrors! When you don't have paper towel, you tend to get creative and think of new uses for old things!!ReplyDelete
We gave up paper towels, paper napkins and tissues about 2 years ago. We did begin re-buying them just for fried food though. We have gone through 2 rolls between January and now (bought a 2 pack the first week of January and we ran out of the second roll last week). We fry breaded eggplant, zucchini and okra most often and we were having terrible issues with all our linens smelling of fried food. I made all my own napkins and then re-purpose other items. Love being (mainly) paper towel free.ReplyDelete
I get paper sacks from the grocery store and use that for my bacon and fried goods to absorb the grease. If there is writting on it cut it and turn it inside out.Delete
Looking forward to more posts! I'm sure my family will gain some good ideas from this thread! Thank you for all the effort in posting!ReplyDelete
love it! we keep a stack of small cloth wipes in the kitchen for cleaning off little hands and faces :)ReplyDelete
I love how my naked couches look, and I don't miss the pillows sticking out from under the couch! I've been out of papertowels for a few months and don't plan on buying them again. I love the look on people's faces when they ask for one and I tell them I don't have any. It's fun showing them what other options there are!ReplyDelete
Check out etsy for some ideas on "un-paper" towels. Living simply and with less can still be cute right?! LOL I plan to make my own using older towels and older sheets - making these cloths super soft and absorbant too. I doubt I'll do the snaps though they are a super cute idea. We seldom use papertowel - I've used my daughter's old baby wash cloths for years in the kitchen for her face and hands after eating - they worked so much better than papertowels ever could!ReplyDelete
Your time of living with less seems to be striking a chord with a lot of us. My husband and I have just recently decided to live with much much less and not have any more children (we have one beautiful girl). With this decision comes the cleaning and preparing of a massive garage sale as I have hoarded every little item since the day she was born in case I was able to use it again - that began five years ago - you can imagine how massive our garage sale will be!
Another inspirational resource for you may be SouleMama - Amanda Blake Soule's blog.
Good luck with your new adventure!!
Hi, I'm a long time reader of your Imperfect Homemaking blog (I am an email subscriber). I would love to get THIS blog's post in my emails...would you mind adding that feature some where (even if it's at the bottom of the blog - if you're looking for a "clean" look)?ReplyDelete
Thanks so much!
Hi Angell! I've added an email subscription box at the bottom of the blog. Thanks for your suggestion!Delete
"In 1931, Scott introduced the first paper towel for the kitchen and created a whole new grocery category. He made perforated rolls of 'towels' thirteen inches wide and eighteen inches long. That is how paper towels were born. It was to take many years, however, before they gained acceptance and replaced cloth towels for kitchen use."ReplyDelete
It interesting to think of how we seem to not be able to live with something that (only) 81 years ago didn't exist!
Hi Missy! Thanks for sharing this...it's very interesting. Our throw-away culture is really a very recent development.Delete
The only thing I have a hard time giving up paper towels for is cleaning toilets. Any suggestions? I have a hard time throwing a cloth towel used to clean toilets in with my regular linen load, especially as my linen load tends to sit for a couple weeks until I have a full load or two... Thanks!ReplyDelete
I "swish & swipe" my bathroom daily (swipe down the mirror, sink, toilet, then swish the inside the toilet w the brush) so I tend to accumulate them quickly. I also will use old hand towels for spot mopping the floors in between actual moppings. Between all these things I tend to have enough for a small load at the end of the week. I use a 'wet bag' (generally used for cloth diapers) to store them in until washing to eliminate smells. Just toss the wet bag in the wash along w the ragsDelete
We gave up paper towels a long time ago. They are ridiculously expensive and usually would put the budget over. We have special dietary needs, so grocery money was needed badly for food and not paper towels. I white glass surfaces and mirrors using old flat cloth diapers. They are the best at not leaving any residue. I squeegee my windows and just dry the edges and always have streak-free shine.ReplyDelete
@ Zoiesmurf - I just hand the cloth towels a.k.a rags on the edge of my utility sink or pail until dry and throw them in my "white load" laundry basket or in with a cloth diaper load. I never do as many loads of that as I do regular wash.
I have a friend who did this for environmental reasons. She gave up using paper napkins, too. I know I should, and I think about it everytime I use one, and I know there are so many reasons to stop using them. I guess I can't stop thinking about how much more laundry I will have to do, so it's definitely for selfish reasons. I'll let you know if we bite the bullet and stop buying them!ReplyDelete
We have been working on this too! I love the idea of larger towels for bigger spills. I think I have some old towels I can repurpose. We made our own cloth napkins for the kitchen and cloth wipes for diaper changes. The kids had fun helping to make both. http://raisingourfamily.blogspot.ca/2011/03/tuesdays-tips-cloth-napkins.htmlReplyDelete
Umm this sounds great have any of you read the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.ReplyDelete
The things she and her family did for the Lord and the earth really was innovative
Hi Missy! So many people have recommended that book to me lately. I am going to have to get my hands on a copy!!Delete
I've just finished 7 (thanks for the recommendation, Missy!) and loved it! I had downloaded it on my Kindle but bought a paperback version today (wasteful - yes! but I plan to mark it all up - meanwhile, my hubby has started reading the kindle version).Delete
It is like Radical, only less radical and more do-able.
We have to do this as well. We use paper towels VERY rarely as it is, generally going through about 4 rolls in a year, because there are only a few things we still use them for. I don't know what's stopping me from taking that final step and illiminating them completely.ReplyDelete
Costco sells 'Bar Towels' that are great for cleaning. The package has about 120 towels for $40 - last time we got a set. We got them to help clean up spit-up from our first child. They were great to clean up baby food and now they are used for cleaning. They are great!ReplyDelete
Also, we have a newer set (from my second child), the kids use it clean their hands or clean up messes they make. It saves us tons of money every day:)
Found this "unpaper towel" tutorial and thought they were cute....make your own!ReplyDelete
This is a great REmissionary project. :-)ReplyDelete
I use old clothes now for cleaning projects. We get a lot of stuff donated for our clothing giveaway, and things that are too stained, torn, beat up, or that have words/pictures that we consider inappropriate for a Christian group to promote - they all get cut up and used for other purposes. I like that idea you gave about using a cooling rack to do bacon in the oven. Hubby thought it was a great idea too!
Where do you purchase your bar-mop towels? Another reader said Costco has a package for $40, but that's not in my budget for the month. Thanks!ReplyDelete
I bought mine at Canadian Tire, which I know isn't very helpful if you aren't Canadian. Sorry :( I'm sure any big-box store near you will sell something similar!Delete
Yep, Canadian Tire would be LONG commute for me. ;) Thanks for taking the time to respond!Delete
I just have to ask.... How do you clean your toilet. I live with all boys, and they..... Well..... Splatter when they pee. It's gross. Do you use rags and wash them?ReplyDelete
Yes, I use rags and wash them. And a toilet brush for the inside of the toilet,of course. But all of my potty trained children are girls, so maybe our toilet is less gross!Delete
Hi! I was wondering how you clean up the grease when you brown your hamburger. I mostly don't use paper towels anymore (I actually hid them so visitors would have to ask before they went for them :-)), but the one things I still use them for is cleaning up that grease. I took your advice on the bacon, and used that method with making my meatballs today, too. It worked great! But, I just can't figure out a fix for is browning hamburger...ReplyDelete
Love your blogs!
I'm so sorry, but i don't understand the question! I assume you're talking about ground beef...right? What do you use the paper towel for exactly?Delete
Sorry! Yes, when I fry up ground beef to put into recipes. I usually dab the beef when I finish with the paper towels to sop up the excess grease. I was just wondering how you separated the beef from the oil. Is that any cleared? :-)Delete
Ah, Thanks for the clarification. That's not something I've ever done. I drain the fat off the beef by holding a pot lid that is smaller than the pan over the beef (to hold the meat on the pan) and then I just pour all the grease out of the pan.Delete
Well, I never thought of doing it like that. I suppose you see your mom doing something for years, you don't think too much about it. I will have to try it your way. Thanks for taking the time to respond!Delete
Hi. I put my strainer in the sink and pour the ground turkey (we don't use beef) in it. Smash it down with the spatula and the fat drains out. Tip: if also making pasta, use the strainer for that first -easier to clean (just rinse) then do the meat. Very simple and if I have to leave if for a minute to go check on the kids it is just fine to keep dripping for a little while.Delete
Hi Ladies...I am new to this blog today actually (I've read it backwards so I have now seen the whole thing) but I am inspired to immediately throw most of my stuff out :) Thank you all - especially you Kelly.Delete
At any rate I just thought I'd throw my two cents in here and say I use a turkey baster to drain the grease from my ground meat. It doesn't get grease on the outside of your pan which can then end up smoking on your element when you drain it with the lid.
Love this idea! This is a HUGE one for me and not my husband actually lol. He's been on my case about letting go of paper towels because of the cost, waste, and how quickly I go through them. I hate to admit it but I use them for everything and go through a roll within a day or two. It's funny because I use towels to clean up spills already, but I have this weird thing about using a towel over and over again for my hands. After reading this blog, I actually have the inspiration to let go of my phobia and get rid of the waste. It may cost more at first, but I think I'm going to buy a bunch of pretty towels and rather than been upset about using some dingy kitchen towel to clean with, I'll have something pretty to look at (at least at first lol). Just want to say I love this blog. You're a huge inspiration and my husband will be thankful :)ReplyDelete
We have minimized our paper towel usage greatly, by using washable towels in their place for years. However, I don't know that I can totally do without them for the "icky" things. Maybe someday... Have you seen the reuable towels you can make and put on a paper towel holder? I have them pinned on my pinterest with the intention of someday making them...ReplyDelete
Oddly, it had never occured to me to use paper towels for cleaning! I just wanted to reassure you that I have always used fabric clothes and tea towels to clean and clear up with, and have never (touch wood!) spread stomach flu or similar by doing it. We use a clean cloth and tea towel every day for the kitchen, and in the evening, the kitchen sink gets wiped out with the cloth, the cloth is given a good rinse, and then used to wipe down the bathroom sink and take the dust off the loo, window sills etc and then I just chuck it straight in the washing machine so that's it not hanging around. I sure going papertoweless will work for you :-)ReplyDelete