N.O.W. idea #9: Ditch Paper Towels

Now that you’ve stopped using paper towels in public, take the next step and stop using them at home.

In the kitchen replace paper towels with cloth napkins (for meals and wiping up). We use our dining napkins as long as we can, refolding them to hide small spots as necessary. When they need to be washed, I rinse them in the kitchen sink (scrubbing stains with dish soap) and hang them on the handle of the oven’s warming drawer overnight (so they’re pre-cleaned and dry before heading to the washing machine).

For wiping the table and counters I use the same napkins (yellow set only) and wash/dry them before putting them in the washer. Sometimes I clean with baking soda or vinegar (or both), but most of the time I just use a clean wet napkin, rinsing it in between wipes.

For dusting and wiping floors I use rags (old bath towels that I cut into smaller rectangles) and water or a water/vinegar solution. I never use toxic cleaners (or even “nontoxic” cleaners) so I don’t have to worry about chemicals lingering on the rags. I rinse and dry the rags in the same manner as my kitchen napkins and store them in a washtub until my weekly “rugs and rags” washing day comes around.

Meal napkins and good-old-fashioned rags

For nasty situations (like pee accidents or dog puke), I really miss paper towels! But instead, I start with toilet paper then do a final cleaning with a rag and vinegar. And I’m grateful every day that we don’t have carpet!



2 thoughts on “N.O.W. idea #9: Ditch Paper Towels

  1. Courtney May 2, 2016 / 10:09 pm

    Do you have a preference on color for the napkins/towels? I know some people prefer white b/c they can bleach them but other colors hide stains and are more fun! We use rags for all our cleaning but still have paper towels for some kitchen tasks/napkins. I want to pick up some cloth napkins soon and transition over to using them most of the time. I like the idea of washing them before hand. That way I don’t have to worry about washing them with clothes( no chemicals to transfer). Thanks so much for the advice!


    • Near-O Waste May 3, 2016 / 3:37 am

      I personally don’t have white *anything* (and I don’t use bleach). Maybe I could keep white looking good if I did though! My dark green and purple (plum) napkins are my favorite because they’re still looking good (stain-free) after years of use. If I were starting from scratch though, I’d get organic cotton (dark prints), which would hide stains even better. Good luck!

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