Thursday, January 6, 2011

Going Paper Towel-less?

No More Paper Towels

I love paper towels.

They're clean, they've never been used, they're quick, and I can find 1000+ ways to use them.

We ran out of paper towels last month, and in the interim before I could get to the store to buy more, we used kitchen towels for our spills, etc. That's when hubby broached the idea of going paper towel-less.

Inside, my paper-towel-loving self was revolting. I really don't want to be this green. I'm not one of those hippy types. ;)

On the other hand, it would be nice to never "run out" of paper towels and have to find a coupon/make a trip to the store. And having an extra $5-6 on hand never hurt, either (on average, that's what I pay for one of the big packages of paper towels).

So we're giving it a go.

Our replacements are pictured above. Nine dishcloths and two hand towels from Wal-Mart.

And so far, so good. I still miss the easy convenience of paper towels (they never have to be rinsed out!), but the washcloths aren't half-bad.

How hippy are we? *wink*

What do you do at your house? Is it paper towels all the way, or are you rustic and cool with washable ones? Or do you just think I'm crazy?

Don't worry, I'm not going to get rid of TP or anything...

Any new adventures in your neck of the woods? Link it up and share with the rest of us! Please link up to your blog post (not your homepage), and link back to Alicia's Homemaking. I look forward to what you have to share! In keeping with my hippy theme, last week Mrs. Dexter shared about her adventures in making homemade deodorant! :)



  1. OH, you are brave. I don't know that I could do it. I've thought about doing it, but oh my, I LOVE my paper products.

    Can't wait to see how it goes.

  2. I love paper towels too! However, I have been thinking it would be nice to have cloths to wipe down the counters instead of so many paper towels! I just need to find a good alternative that doesn't leave a wet streak behind, and actually absorbs my homemade cleaner. (Yes, I'm trying that too :) )

  3. I love paper towels. One month, I really tried to stop using paper towels. I had none in the house which forced me to use towels/rags. I thought maybe once I got used to using towels/rags it would seem natural. Well, I was wrong. I hated it. I decided it was worth the extra $3-4 a month for paper towels.

  4. Go you! We gave up paper towels a little nore than 2 years ago. It's been pretty great, but it took my hubby {the paper towel lover} a while to adjust. But now we have this system down for which kitchen rags are for what and everyone rolls with it.

  5. haha Sarah, "rolls" with it...

  6. We have been (basically) without paper towels for a year or two now and LOVE it. We use dishcloths for spills and such and microfiber cloths for cleaning. I do pick up a pack of paper towels here and there when they are free, just to have on hand, but I have noticed when they are on hand, we tend to use them more. We also cloth diaper but have no intention of eliminating toilet paper or feminine products.

  7. Good for you, Alicia! I try to use as few paper towels as possible by: 1) reusing ones that aren't dirty 2) using newspapers to clean windows and messes that I don't want on a cloth, like oil and eggs, and 3) using cloths some of the time. I've not gone paper-towel-less at home (unless I run out) because of my laundry backlog. =) Maybe some day though!

  8. i would love to go paper towel less but with a puppy that we are trying to housebreak, i'm not sure how this is feasible. any suggestions?

  9. Watching people (through their blogs) go paper-towel-less is interesting and amusing to me :P I grew up with the only thing "paper" in our house was napkins, TP and feminine products. We had dishrags, dishtowels, and then a rag closet or rag bag. Rags were used for spills, washing the floor, windows, etc. etc.

    I'm a little curious, what do you ("you" whoever) use to wash dishes and wipe off our counters, etc. if you don't use a dishrag? I have to admit it would be weird and seem wasteful to me to use paper-towels for wiping counters off, etc. because it's just food crumbs or messes. I don't mean to sound rude or mean, I'm just curious.

    I will say that here dishrags are solely for kitchen use. I don't use them to wipe off Susannah's hands or face (I keep a stash of baby washcloths for that, but anymore she's a pretty clean eater so it's rare that I need to clean her up after a meal), or to wipe the floor, etc. I don't use a dishrag for more than a day, maybe two, before I switch it out for a clean one. As long as you rinse them well after each use and hang them (over your dishdrainer, etc.) so they can dry quickly, they don't get a bad smell. If they do start to get funky, I just soak them in a bucket of bleach water before running them through the washing machine with my load of towels and sheets. I do have specific rags for washing the floor, etc.

    The only thing we use paper towels for is Daniel's breakfast sandwich gets wrapped in one, and he uses them for tissues (which is not very many) because he can't stand regular tissues :P (Oh, and to clean up cat barf - rare occurance, or when the kittens where here and had accidents. NO WAY will I put anything like that through my washing machine!)

  10. Great post. I copied Sarah a few months after she and Jonathan switched (because who doesn't want to be like Sarah? :). It was hard to get used to at first, but now it seems natural. I even use them to clean the bathroom mirror. Like Miriam, we keep paper towels around for dog barf and Dexter uses them when he cleans the toilet. I use rags on the toilet and just make sure I clean the toilet last and take the rags straight to the laundry room so they don't get reused. I buy one roll at a time. Even though it's not as good of a deal, it makes me feel like I have to make the one sacred roll last forever.

    Kat--we got some towels on clearance that we use for our dogs' baths and any wet accidents they have. Then we used our kitchen rags for the carpet cleaner. Luckily, both of our dogs are pretty responsible outside pottiers now!

  11. We use both. Personally I think I could pretty much go without the paper towels - I grew up not using them - but hubby, no way - he is like addicted to paper towels.

  12. Who knew I would get so much feedback on a paper towel post? *lol*

    Miriam, I grew up using paper towels! And yes, I was known to use them to wipe off the counters (wasteful, I know!). But mostly I used my dishwashing sponge (which gets replaced for a new one daily). Now that's all I use (or the white cloths).

    I'm impressed that Susannah is such a clean eater! Squishy is NOT and always needs cleaning up.

    My husband had a mental hurdle yesterday when he went to dry off a raw chicken (which we usually used paper towels for). But we decided a clean kitchen towel was ok!

    Mrs. Dexter...yes, I must also admit that I used paper towels to clean my mirrors and sometimes even wipe down the toilet and sink!

    And yes...who doesn't want to be like Sarah? :D

    Maybe I should try some of those microfiber cleaning cloths? They sound cool, anyway. :)

    Kat--I'm thinking old towels, too. Although I've never housetrained a pet, so I have no expertise.

  13. Great post! We use cheap washcloth 10 for $2. At first we had white but they never got back to the pretty white so now we use multi colored. We use them for spills and for napkins. You feel like you are livin' it up using cloth and not paper!

  14. I use both, just have to keep washing the towels, and LOVE LOVE LOVE Handi-Wipes - always have - just throw'em on top of the dishes in the dishwasher or in the luandry - that being said - remember I'm a guy - so...

  15. You will love it! We went "paperless" not quite a year ago and I haven't looked back!

  16. We have paper towels in the house but we hardly use them. For spills on the counters I use small microfiber rags. Recently I bought a few packs of microfiber rags with cute designs on them in order to tell kitchen rags apart from cleaning rags.
    I wipe the floor with baby wipes, or with a microfiber floor rag.

    For those of you who got rid of paper towels all together, what do you use to put your fried stuff on just when it comes out of the pan?

  17. "For those of you who got rid of paper towels all together, what do you use to put your fried stuff on just when it comes out of the pan?"

    I'm curious, too! Never thought of that...

    1. I simply use a kitchen towel. After use I use dish soap to prewash the towel and rinse it really well, hang it to dry and throw it in the laundry.

  18. I still use papertowels, but only for a few select things. I can answer the fried stuff question, though - we have always used brown paper bags to drain fried food on. It has worked for us, absorbs a lot of grease, and doesn't leave lint like some paper towels do. (I got the idea from going to a few restaurants and seeing that was how they served some of their food, straight from the frier.)

  19. Kelsey and Alicia - thanks for the sweet comment! And Kelley - thanks for cat chi my pun!

    Because we use cloth diapers {that's a whole 'nother topic!} I've no problem using rags to clean up dog and kid messes. Seems natural to me. Before we made the switch, Jonathan would always use paper towels to clean up everything. We could go through a roll in just a few days.

    And for the fried foods - have you thought to put them on a drying rack on a plate or cookie sheet? It would help the grease drip off without using towels. This is what I've done in the past.

    I'm loving that this has been such a fun topic for people!

  20. Kelley - that should say "catching" not cat chi. Gotta love random auto-correct!

  21. I only use paper towels to put fried food on. Other than that, I almost always just use a washcloth!

  22. We use the 10 for 2 dollar washclothes from Walmart, and bath towels that are getting old are cut up for cleaning rags. For those real yucky messes I keep a bag of old clean socks handy. Wipe up the kitty mess and toss away.

    For pets we have towels that are pet towels, used to dry them after baths and clean up accidents. Just wash by themselves with bleach.

  23. I have tried to stop using paper towels in the past...but always go back to them for the convenience factor!

  24. I still use paper towels for fried foods, but Alton Brown, from the Food Network, says to put a cooling rack upside-down on top of newspapers. He claims it's better than paper towels!

    Also, Alicia, I forgot to say thanks for linking to me in your post! I was super excited when I saw it :)

  25. We now only use paper towels to clean up cat throw-up. Otherwise, we love saving money with our washcloths! (We also do cloth diapers and cloth wipes, but it may be hard to convince you about that!)

  26. I haven't gone completely paper towel-less, but I did stop using them to clean a while ago and I LOVE IT. I just bought a whole bunch of white bar towels on sale and keep a stash in the kitchen and bathrooms for cleaning countertops and appliances. The ones in teh bathroom obviously do all the bathroom stuff. I love it! I noticed a HUGE decrease in my need to buy paper towels. I really only go through one roll a month as opposed to one roll a week like I used to. Much better for the budget and the environment, if you ask me!

    I haven't used any for food stuff like soaking up oil, that's just not gonna work for me until I have my own washing machine that I can jsut do a load of JUST dish towels, but for now, I just throw them in with whatever laundry I happen to be doing at the time.

    Sorry I didn't link up yesterday, I completely forgot! And I had such a big adventure, too! I'll have to link back to yesterday's post next week! I used a coupon and got CVS Extra Care Bucks! be proud, Alicia! :)

  27. I went paper towel free nearly two years ago and I've never loooked back. My reasons were far from pure then husband used them in a way I thought wasteful (and, well, stupid). He would use a paper towel for things that really required a wet wash cloth. So when we ran out, I just quit buying them. If they weren't there, he couldn't use them. And nearly a year went by before he noticed we didn't have any. The only time I've ever missed them is when draining bacon. (And I've got a couple super-thin flat cloth diapers that I use for that.)

    I bet you find you don't miss them that much at all!

  28. We bought a big bunch of bar mops from sams and they work great. They are cheap enough that I don't care so much if they get ruined and we rarely use paper towels bc we have so many. I still keep a roll of paper towels up in the kitchen mainly for the comfort of house guest.

  29. You know I have a couple dozen paper towels in the garage. I only use them for bacon drippings and washing windows. I never think to use them to clean up messes. I guess since I grew up with 14 brothers and sisters, my mom always used wash clothes so so do I!

  30. Good for you! I keep a dishtowel out for drying our hands and drying dishes if needed (after all, both are clean), and get a clean one out each day. Now, to replace paper towels, I pick up flannel remnants at JoAnns and cut them into 12 inch squares and serge around them. I fold them in half and make a big stack of them and we use them like crazy. Lots of cute prints! The only time I use a paper towel is to clean up really gross stuff, like greasy things or something spilled on the floor. Those are two things I don't want to have to wash out of my reusable cloths. A roll of paper towels lasts forever at our house. Good luck on your venture and no, you're not hippy!

  31. We do keep paper towels at our house, but only use them sparingly. For a while we had no paper towels and there were a few instances when I really wished I could have had some on hand, like when I spilled a bunch of salsa on the floor! We mainly use a bunch of white dish cloths that we keep on hand for the everyday spills and or cleaning, but mine no longer look as nice as yours!

  32. I've been replacing almost everything disposable with reusable counterparts over the last few years. (I'm still holding out for TP and diapers, although I plan on cloth diapering once we get a washing machine in our home.) Ziploc bags have been replaced with Tupperware. Paper towels and sponges have left the house for kitchen towels and dishcloths. It's not so bad now that I'm used to it.

    My in-laws were in town for the holidays, and were good enough to step in and do the kitchen work: they bought groceries, cooked, cleaned up. It was wonderful! But I thought it was funny how my MIL looked around my kitchen and immediately bought piles of paper towels, paper napkins, paper plates, plastic bowls, plastic cups, garbage bags, sponges, and Ziploc bags of various sizes. Maybe I should have tried to explain my system first, huh?

  33. Joana, that's funny!! :D

    You guys have brought up a couple of things I hadn't thought of...greasy food for one. I like the paper bag idea, although we typically don't have those on hand.

    I do want to have a roll of paper towels on hand for house-guests (to use as napkins, etc). But I'm going to have to tuck it away so I'm not tempted to use it. ;)

    Amy, I like your flannel cloth idea!

  34. We also use cloth napkins, have used them for 12 or so years. Also wanted to add that it's not just about the $ savings, but the issues of more in the landfills and also the tree issue. I'm not a *tree-hugger*, just an aware consumer.


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