View Full Version : 7 Best Eco-Alternatives to Throw-Away Paper Towels

02-25-2015, 10:44 AM


Sure, paper towels are convenient. But they’re also one of the biggest sources of trash in our kitchens. Not only do they usually come wrapped in plastic you can’t re-use. You can use a paper towel only once before you have to throw it away. Plus, you can’t recycle it because it’s probably wet or full of something gunky that you’re not supposed to toss into your recycling bin.
We’ve managed to give up paper towels completely in our house by using some combination of these 7 inexpensive eco-alternatives.
1) Sponges – A lowly sponge can last as long as 17 rolls of paper towels. Not only are you cutting down on waste, but you’re saving a lot of money when you shift to a sponge. Say both one sponge and one roll of paper towels both cost $1.99. You would end up spending almost $35 for 17 rolls of paper towels during the lifetime of one $1.99 sponge. I keep a couple of sizes of sponges under my kitchen counter to accommodate different clean-up jobs. I rinse the sponges out with warm soap water after I use them and put them in my dishwasher when I wash the dishes. Afterwards, I’ll zap them in the microwave on high heat for 30 seconds (while they’re slightly damp), and they’re clean and ready to use again.
2) Worn-out Kitchen Towels – All towels have a tendency to get stained and worn after awhile. Rather than toss them out, I keep them in my rag drawer in the kitchen, where they can be quickly pulled out to mop up spills and splatters. If they’ve been used to wipe up something particularly grungy, I’ll rinse them out in the kitchen sink before I add them to the laundry. For less than a dollar each, stock up on towels you find at your local thrift store or yard sale.
3) Kitchen Dish Cloths – Kitchen dish cloths are great for wiping up a mess. They’re durable, absorbent, and usually handy. Plus, they’re inexpensive to buy. I usually pick up a pack of two or three in the housewares section of my grocery store when I need to replenish my stock.
4) Cloth “Rags” – You can make rags out of worn t-shirts, or for very little money you can buy a package of cleaning rags at a dollar store or big box outlet.
5) Old Diapers – After they’ve been used for the last time by your baby, diapers can make terrific alternatives to sponges. Wash and sanitize the diapers the way you normally would, then stow them in the kitchen or pantry rather than the nursery or bathroom. Diapers are designed to last a long time, and their absorbency makes them the perfect material to wipe up a wet mess.
6) Used Sheets & Pillow Cases - Bed linens actually make excellent kitchen rags because the fabric is heavy enough, and they’re usually predominantly cotton so they’ll be nicely absorbent. Cut them into 12″ squares. If you have a sewing machine handy, you can fold over the edges and sew them down to keep them from fraying, but it’s certainly not necessary.
7) Used Cloth Napkins and Table Cloths – When you just can’t get the stains out of your table cloth or napkins, turn them into sponge alternatives. The napkins are already the right size. You’ll have to cut the table cloth into sections 12″ x 12″ with a pair of sharp shears. Table cloths and napkins that are 100% cotton work the best; polyester can be too water-resistant to absorb spilled liquids.
What do you use instead of paper towels?

Lady's Human
02-25-2015, 02:02 PM
Paper towels are made with recycled paper, and are far more sanitary than any cloth unless you're faithfully using a 10% chlorine solution to sanitize between uses.

As I can't stand the smell of chlorine in my kitchen, I'll stick with the paper towels.

02-25-2015, 02:43 PM
I wouldn't have a sponge in my kitchen. They are - without a doubt - the nastiest, germiest, most foul smelling - piece of "cleaning equipment", that you could possibly use. I don't care how much you rinse and attempt to sanitize - they always stink and hold germs. The only place for a sponge, is in the garage with the cleaners used to wash your car. I'll keep using paper towels, and they decompose easily, so are not cluttering landfills for years like plastic and even cloths which take forever to break down.

02-25-2015, 03:49 PM
Add to that the issue of living with a compromised immune system - paper towels for this house, always! I have a couple sponges, but they are rarely used, only for scrubbing things that need it, frankly!

02-25-2015, 04:19 PM
I do zonk my sponge in the microwave every few days. I use paper towels to clean the kitchen and bathroom sinks and the toilet, because for that job I like "once and done".

02-25-2015, 08:08 PM
I never use sponges, germs and nasties no matter how clean you might think they are. Paper towels today are eco-friendly and they almost disintegrate by the time the clean up is done.