Products & Tips to Live Without Paper Towels

by Landis Carey on March 6, 2012

It’s been a year — an entire year! — since we ran out of paper towels, decided to not replace them, and began using only a variety of cloth kitchen towels and napkins. It’s been a great success, so I thought I’d pull together the products and tips that helped us alter our habits and go paper towel-free. Don’t worry, nothing here is expensive, the transition just takes a little patience and thought.

Bakers & Chefs Bar Mops ($27.98 for a 24-pack): These super-absorbant towels are perfect for drying dishes, wiping counters, cleaning spills and every other kitchen job you can imagine. Wash them at least once before using, it’ll help make them more absorbent! I ordered one pack and so far that’s been sufficient, but with Baby Carey on the way I might order another just to make sure we’re always stocked!

Flour Sack Towels ($26.95 for 12): These towels are useful in the kitchen as well because of their high absorbency, but I prefer them for cleaning. The beauties can make your windows and mirrors shine without leaving any streaks or lint behind. They’re oversized at 28″ by 29″ so they’re also perfect for washing shower walls, bathtubs, and toilets. Keeping cleaning towels separate from those we use in the kitchen is really important to me since our washer isn’t that great.

Cloth Napkins: Using cloth napkins instead of paper makes sense if you’re living without paper towels. They’re easy to sew, available in most home stores and, of course, for sale on Etsy. If you missed last year’s DIY tutorial, take a peek: Easy-to-Sew Cloth Napkins.

Laundry Hamper: Okay, don’t panic, I know you don’t want an ugly hamper in your kitchen! That’s why I suggest this basket from Ikea (which is what we use!) or this one from Target. Both are cute, don’t take up much space, and will easily hold your dirtied kitchen towels and cloth napkins until you’re ready to tackle the laundry.

Tips To Live Without Paper Towels and Napkins

  • Keep only clean towels on the kitchen counter. Once you’ve wiped a spill on the floor, toss the used towel into the laundry basket.
  • When cleaning floor spills, grab a dirty towel from the laundry basket instead of wasting a clean one.
  • Reuse your cloth napkins for several meals. It’s easy to remember whose napkins is whose when you’ve got a selection of patters to choose from.

Okay, friends…thoughts, comments or questions? Let me know!

Related Posts: Project Update: Trials of Living Without Paper Towels, Reader Question: Why Cloth Trumps Paper, How I Forgot We Are Living Without Paper Towels

(Image: Landis Carey)

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen F March 6, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Great tips! I have 2 of the Target baskets that you linked to – they are great for corralling blankets in the living room and toys in my daughter’s room!


Erica March 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I love apartment therapy, was very happily reading a post by you and then saw “Maplewood.” It may sound silly but I was very excited to see that you are local to me. I have now started following every way I can. This is a great blog, you have impeccable taste, and we are neighbors (just about)!


Landis Carey March 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Thanks so much for the sweet words, Erica! I’ve just been on your website and would love to chat with you about your newborn photography — I’ll send you an email!


Kate @ The Loud and Clear March 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Great post! I just discovered your blog via Restored Style and am so happy to hear that you’re successfully paper towel free! I’ve been considering doing the same but my husband is skeptical. The flour sack tip for windows is great as I’ve been annoyed with the lint left by microfiber cloths. Thanks!


Landis Carey March 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm

So glad you found the post helpful, Kate! I’d love to hear if you tackle the challenge and how it works out for your family.


Lynn McGraw March 19, 2012 at 11:06 am

I think patterned napkins work best, it doesn’t show the stains as much, if you can’t get them out.


Landis Carey March 20, 2012 at 10:37 am

What a great point! I’ve not really thought about this before, but you’re right, our patterned napkins have fared much better than our natural-colored linen ones. The patterned ones are also a thicker, more constructed weave, as well. Thanks, Lynn!


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