Friday, November 16, 2007

Frugal Fridays: "No paper towels!?"

We don't use paper towels... GASP! I know. My mother-in-law almost choked on her water when she asked where the paper towels were to clean up a mess off the floor in the kitchen and my answer was "We don't use paper towels, we have regular towels in that cabinet".

My husband and I have been using regular towels for instead of paper towels for about a year. Not only is it WAY cheaper, but it is such a waste to use something for 0.3 seconds and then throw it away. I know my parents go through like a roll a day... that is so many trees! Sure you can buy the recycled Seventh Generation stuff, but to me it is so not worth it when you can reuse something over and over.

So, here is our system. We have towels (microfiber towels are great... they are great for dusting and scrubbing) in a basket in a cabinet next to the sink.

Then under the sink, I have a small "laundry" basket, and I just throw them in there when they are dirty. Simple.

I wash the towels every couple of days, or when the basket is full. This has saved us quite a bit of money and quite a few trees!

Visit Biblical Womanhood for more great frugal ideas!

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Lylah said...

Very Good Idea! Love the basket :-)

GreenStyleMom said...

That is exactly the same system I have! Clean towels in a basket with a dirty towel tub under the sink. Great minds think alike, huh?

AussieinAmerica said...

This is great.
I have been thinking about paper towels lately. They really do take a chunk out of the food budget that I'd rather spend on something else.

Do you think you could cut up an old sheet or t-shirt and use it the same way? I guess maybe I would just have to test it out and see if it is absorbent.

Have a lovely day.
Thanks for sharing.

Amy said...

I've seen a lot about microfiber towels lately. Any opinion on which ones work best but are still reasonably priced? Thanks for any help.

Mrs. Jo said...

Great tip! The only way I vary this is in having paper towels for super icky stuff or dangerous stuff. Like when the kids have a big barf/poo mess all over or I break a glass goblet and need something to get it up and in the garbage fast!

Anonymous said...

Hi! Here from Crystal's...

I just implemented this new-to-me system in our kitchen a few months ago! I love it and my husband... well, he's getting used to it! He came from a family that rarely uses a dish towel...paper towels for everything. !! Yikes!

My question: What kind of microfiber towels do you use? I recently bought some m.fiber dishtowels from Wal-Mart and ended up giving them to my mama. I hated them. They picked up stray hairs and lint in the dryer and just didn't clean/wipe up well. If you don't mind sharing, what kind do you use, and do you like them?


Meredith A. said...

Wow! What a response! :)

A few people have asked what kind of towels I use... the microfiber towels are ones that I found at goodwill for about 0.99... I believe that they came from Target (I think they are actually from the car care section). I also saw some at Costco that look pretty similar.

The key to microfiber towels is DO NOT use fabric softener (we don't use it anyways, I think it is unnecessary). The fabric softener will ruin the static cling of the towels and won't allow them to pick up dirt.

Anyone else have any tips?

Munkamama said...

When we got married someone gave us about 4 or so of the cheapest looking, ugly, thin garish pink towels. These towels were not my choice for our new household but they ended up being greatly practical for us.

We didn't have a bunch of rags on hand, and our "nice" towels were too nice to use for wiping up spills, polishing the car etc. - so the pink towels were perfect.

These pink towels were used until they were indeed rags. Recently I was going through our camping gear and was happy to find one of the pink towels!

So a great practical gift for a bridal shower is some garish pink towels to use as "rags"...include a note with the gift so the bride doesn't mistake them for your bad taste.

Ruth said...

Great post! We haven't used paper towels for about 4.5 years. There was a time we missed them, though! I love the idea of the basket under the sink. Maybe I'll have to clean that area out to fit one! LOL

Meredith said...

I picked up a few dozen blue dish towels at a thrift store for $4. That was all I needed to get rid of paper towels, once and for all. (We had been using half and half for a while.)

My mom, on the other hand, cannot stand our real towels. She makes a point of bringing a roll of paper whenever she visits. I put them away when she leaves and bring them out again when she returns!

Abbi said...

I use cloth rags as well. For cleaning, messes and spills I use rags that I have made from old t-shirts, flannel shirts and socks. Different fabrics work good for different things. I have found it not at all neccasary to go out and buy rags.

Sheila said...

We do the same. At times visitors and friends will ask why we don't use paper towels. I've wondered if I'm making them feel uncomfortable in my home by not have papertowels, so I'm thinking about just keeping a hidden roll on hand for visitors or purchasing some nice cloth napkins for visitors to use.

Nice blog by the way. Love to have you visit me anytime over at

~M said...

Good idea! I currently live in an apartment and washing is $2.05 per cycle. I wouldn't want to mix these with my clothes or other laundry do to the dirt/chemical cleaner my question to you is whether you think it is worth it from a purely economic perspective. I wouldn't dry them in a dryer since I do use Bounce on my other stuff to eliminate cling. Do you wash them in hot water to disinfect them? Also, let me know if old (washed) undershirts work - we have plenty with stains that would be perfect for this if they work.

Meredith A. said...

For those of you who have asked, I have never tried cut up t-shirts or other items, but I am sure they would work great. Old bath towels can be cut up and serged around the edges to make great cloths!

sheila -
Cloth napkins for guest would be great! It makes people feel really special and important to use cloth napkins, and you are getting more than one use out of them!

~m -
I think it would be worth it... maybe doing 1 load per week? I wash my towels separate from everything else about 2x/week. I wash them with warm or hot water with Ecover laundry detergent and sometimes some Borax, baking soda, or vinegar. As far as the germ factor - I think our culture is way too afraid of germs...

Anonymous said...

we were going through a roll a day as well, so i stopped by Target and bought two 12-packs of thin white face cloths that were $2.99 a pack! now we just roll them like they do in the restrooms of nice hotels and keep a fresh basket full in the kitchen. we have basket under the sink that we throw the dirty ones in and then just bleach and wash with our white sheets and bath towels... so simple and actually more luxurious than using paper ones. we do keep a roll of paper towels on the counter for those times when you really need one, but now one roll lasts a week!!!

kate said...

How do you get around lint and streaks on the windows and mirrors? I've found that p.t. is the only thing that really works well for windows.