Last Updated on July 19, 2022
Making an easy switch to cloth paper towels is a great way to put in the effort to go zero waste. They are much better for the environment and actually do a better job of cleaning too!
Choosing a paper towel alternative will keep waste out of landfills. Plus, using washable paper towels that have a long lasting life will also save you money.
cloth paper towels
Paper towels were invented in the early 1900s by accident.
A railcar full of paper was too tightly wound to become toilet paper as intended. Instead of sending the paper back, they cut it into sheets roughly 18″ x 13″ to make paper towels.
Then, they launched a marketing campaign to make sure that everyone knew they needed paper towels. Rags were deemed unsanitary to make way for the new and improved paper towel.
It took a long time for paper towels to become a more permanent object in the home. People were not used to throwing things away. But eventually, we bought into the marketing hype.
While I fully believe sanitary disposables have their place in life (medical, science, etc.) I don’t feel as though the home is one of them. I will go into detail to help you decide when paperless paper towels are the way to go versus the regular throw away paper towels.
washable paper towels:
I have tried lots of dishcloths, and most push water around instead of absorbing it. Paper towels are EXCELLENT at absorbing water. So are microfiber towels, but microfiber comes with a whole slew of other problems. Every time a synthetic fabric is washed in a washing machine, it releases thousands of microplastic particles into the waterways and eventually the ocean. This is a huge issue, which we will get into at another time.
I have tried huck towels before and was highly disappointed. However, I recently got these towels from Sur La Table as a paper towel replacement and have been thrilled by the results. They absorb water like nobody’s business. I can highly recommend these cloth paper towels.
using a paper towel alternative:
paperless paper towels for after meal clean up:
This seems like the silliest and most frivolous use of paper towels. After you’ve finished making a meal, there are probably some crumbs on your counter. There’s no reason to reach for a paper towel.
Brush all the crumbs into the sink or the palm of your hand. If you have a particularly sticky mess, dampen a paper towel alternative cloth and wipe it up.
paper towel replacement for windows and glass:
You don’t need paper towels to get a streak free shine. I have had excellent luck with the cloth paper towels I linked above. You can’t swipe once and expect it to be perfect. It takes a little bit more effort to make sure the surface is dry.
But, I hear that newspaper works well in a pinch!
washable paper towels for drying your hands:
I lied; this is the most frivolous use for paper towels.
Seriously, there is no reason why you can’t use a paper towel replacement instead of drying your hands and tossing it in the trash!
When I cook meat for Justin, there’s typically grease left in the pan. Depending on how much there is in the pan, I’ll either sautee with it or store it for sauteing later. If there’s not enough for either of those things, take a piece of bread and use it to absorb the grease.
You can cut it into chunks to make croutons or give them to the dog as a treat. Just don’t overdo it, because grease isn’t that good for your furry friends.
If you have something like bacon that’s exceptionally greasy, lays the strips over a draining rack and place a plate or baking sheet underneath. See…no need to even use a paper towel alternative here!
cloth paper towels for drying produce or meat:
After you wash your produce, dry it with one of the paperless paper towels instead of a paper one. Now, meat is a trickier subject. Often times you’ll hear chefs tell you to pat your meat dry before cooking it. The only time I really deal with this is holidays.
Instead of patting it dry, I put it naked on a drying rack on top of a baking sheet in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, but preferably overnight. Super crispy skin and no worries about a paper towel replacement.
vomit and other gross stuff:
This is the one thing that Justin would like paper towels for, and I get it. But I don’t at the same time. If something happens, just wipe it up. Rinse the towel in the tub or sink or with the hose outside. Then throw the towel in the washing machine.
I haven’t used paper towels in years. I tried to think of everything you could possibly use them for, but what did I miss? What are some other tips you have for avoiding paper towels?
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