3 Ways to Ditch Paper Towels

Sure, using 100 percent recycled paper products beats using paper towels made from virgin fiber, but the greenest option is to skip the paper towels all together.

Whether you’re in the kitchen, cleaning up spills, or out and about, there are reusable options that can help you save a tree!

Up Next: In the Kitchen

cupcake towels

In the Kitchen

For routine cleaning like wiping down the kitchen counter, you can use a sponge or a kitchen towel. Not only do reusables like this help save trees, they save you money in the end! If you want to be ultra eco-friendly, look for kitchen towels that are 100 percent organic cotton.

If you’re feeling crafty, it’s easy as pie to make your own kitchen towels out of any absorbent fabric you choose! Organic cotton or hemp are excellent for absorbing spills, and you might want to pick a busier pattern to hide small stains and blemishes.

This video tutorial is for making cloth napkins, but you can easily adjust the fabric dimensions to make two-ply tea towels instead. Rather than the 10″ W x 10″ H that the video calls for, just use a 34″ W x 25″ H piece of fabric instead.

Up Next: Messier Jobs

cleaning supplies

Messier Jobs

For emergency spill situations, it’s a good idea to keep a bucket or drawer full of rags handy. You can pick up terrycloth rags on the cheap or use cut up old t-shirts for cleanup. Socks without partners that you’ve rescued from the dryer make excellent rags, as well.

These sorts of rags are great for heavier jobs, like cleaning the shower.

Up Next: On the Go


On the Go

When you’re out and about, it’s tempting to grab a paper towel to dry your hands after washing them, but is it really necessary? You can shake off the excess water and wipe your hands dry on your trousers to avoid using paper.

If drying your hands on your pants or skirt doesn’t appeal to you, you could keep a handkerchief or rag on you. Companies like People Towels even make handy towels designed to carry with you. Douglas Adams would be proud!

The only thing we still use paper towels for around here is cleaning the cat box. Cat waste is full of toxins, and I just don’t trust the washing machine to sanitize rags we used to wipe out the litter box. Do any of you use reusable rags for this? How do you go about cleaning them?

Greenest Paper Towels and Napkins
Paper Bags vs Plastic Bags: Which is Really Better?
20 Tips for Being Green

Image Credits:
Paper Towel Tube. Creative Commons photo by CraftyGoat
Kitchen Towels. Creative Commons photo by Carissa Marie
Cleaning Supplies. Creative Commons photo by Chiot’s Run
Handkerchiefs. Creative Commons photo by maureen lunn


Past Member
Past Member about a year ago

I recently found flushable wipes in a neighborhood drug store.

S Gardner
sandy G2 years ago

Thanks for the information.

Veronica Danie
.2 years ago

I tossed Kleenex, Paper towels and paper napkins decades ago.

JL A4 years ago

good to remember

Roberto Meritoni
Roberto Meritoni4 years ago


Anteater Ants
Anteater Ants4 years ago


Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

Nothing is useless

Val M.
Val M4 years ago


Claudia Acosta
Claudia A4 years ago

I re-used them cleaning fat for the pan, thus water is not contaminated.

Dina Mattas
Dina Mattas4 years ago

All my cleaning products are reusable & natural except for paper towels & napkins, thanks for the great advice, I'll be trying to slowly phase them out now too.