home + garden

How to Eliminate Paper Towels

How to eliminate paper towels from Go Gingham

Along with eliminating paper napkins from our kitchen, we’ve also stopped using paper towels. It’s easy to eliminate paper towels and you’ll save – both money and resources.

Here’s how we did it.

How to Eliminate Paper Towels

  1. Move the paper towels out of plain site and make them less accessible. If they’re visible in the kitchen, they’re usually the first and easiest to grab.
  2. Use cotton wash cloths or “bar mops” in place of paper towels. You can make your own, cut kitchen towels or buy wash cloths.
  3. Keep a stash of paper towels hidden – but use only as last resort. (My stash is hidden – shhhhh – don’t tell! It’s in the pantry for really nasty oily or dirty spills – and for wiping off our cast iron skillet after it’s been washed.)
  4. Get enough so that your cloth towels can be washed often. Ours get washed on laundry day and then hung to dry on the laundry line.

I found this, not very interesting, basket at a second-hand store and poked a holes in the back to hang it on a hook.

How to eliminate paper towels from Go Gingham
Look for a basket that can be hung from a wall for this project.

The basket of wash cloths hangs where our paper towel holder used to.

How to eliminate paper towels from Go Gingham

These are 100% cotton wash cloths that I bought at Costco. Total cost was $8.79 for 15-each cloths. These are most likely for the bathroom but they work in the kitchen, too!

How to eliminate paper towels from Go Gingham

The last batch of “bar mops” I had were white. They turned into “50 shades of grey” over the past 10-years. These wash cloths don’t really “match” my kitchen decor but my kids said I couldn’t get white wash cloths again.

How to eliminate paper towels from Go Gingham

Want your cloths to be extra absorbent? Skip the dryer sheets and fabric softeners. Natural fabrics like cotton don’t require them and you’ll be keeping chemicals off your laundry and  out of your home.

That’s it – paper towels gone from the kitchen! You’re saving money and resources – BAM!

What do you use paper towels for?

Go Gingham related links:

Want to learn to sew? Start here with easy cloth napkins
Why I use an inside laundry line and not an outside laundry line
How to install an inside your home laundry line my son helped me install ours
Green and natural laundry detergents – what to use and why
The mop cover is a re-purposed t-shirt: how to make a mop cover

More related links:

  • Reusable paper towels tutorial from Fabric.com
  • Want to buy some already made cloth paper towels that are super cute? Check Etsy!

12 thoughts on “How to Eliminate Paper Towels

  1. We went paper-free last spring, and I haven’t missed towels or napkins at all. We bought several packs of microfiber cloths to use instead of paper towels, and we just keep them in bins in our bathrooms and in a centrally-located closet off the kitchen. Having plenty is key to this working for us. I really like your basket idea–functional and cute!


  2. I love the basket! It looks pretty and is useful, too – my 2 favorite qualities in an item. I eliminated paper towels and napkins years ago though it drives my mother crazy when she comes to visit! For Christmas one year my sister-in-law gave me a gift of cloth napkins made out of leftover holiday fabric for all the holidays which I still love. It was a great gift.


  3. We’ve been paper towel free for years, and it’s amazing how befuddles some people are when they spill something at our house. They have no idea what to do! We got new bath towels a few years ago – our old towels were wedding gifts, and after 20 + years, it was time – and we cut up a bunch of the old ones for spill/cleanup cloths. Otherwise we just use regular kitchen towels. The only time I really want paper towels is cleaning up cat puke, so I generally just make Jeff do that. Love the basket idea!


  4. Brilliant idea and the basket & towels are beautiful!

    We have a paper free kitchen and the only problem is bacon. What does everyone use to cook bacon instead of paper towels? I am a vegetarian but my husband still cooks bacon occasionally.


  5. I made two sets of washcloths appliqued with letters corresponding to the days of the week. I use one set in the bathroom, and one in the kitchen. That way, I change the cloth each day in both rooms, wash them when I get a load of towels, and use very little paper in either bathroom or kitchen.


  6. We are paper towel free too. I just use the dishcloth for clean-ups and tea towels to wipe up spills. Both can easily be washed with the weekly laundry. I knit the dishcloths, so there are always lots handy. Nasty spills can be cleaned with rags, which are kept in a box under the sinks, and also easily washed. And if the mess it too gross to put in the wash, we simply throw out the rag.


  7. Yep, whilst I own paper towels, I’ve had the two rolls packet for at least 2 years… I use it when there’s no other option, but I’ll happily ‘dirty’ a tea towel or a rag for most options. We don’t have dogs or kids, so I suppose that helps!

    Like Heidi, I’ll through out a too soiled rag – there’s so many more. What’s even more amazing is my BF who is totally not into eco/zero waste etc stuff, just goes with all these changes. If rags (and hankies) are easy to access vs paper products, he’ll use them. Makes my heart sing!


  8. I dry my cast iron skillet by putting it on the burner and heating it up. I still use a few paper towels – the half-sheet size!


  9. Thanks for reminding me to give up the paper towel habit…something I’ve been meaning to do.
    I’ve been wondering about cooking bacon too. We use paper towels to absorb the grease. I’m wondering what our great-grandmothers did? Wire rack? That would still retain a lot of fat wouldn’t it?


  10. We’ve been paper towel/paper napkin free for years. About bacon grease….. You can use the heels from your loaf of bread for draining bacon on. That’s what we used before paper towels were a “common” household item. If it would have been during the 1930’s and ’40’s, you would have cubed the heels with bacon grease on them and fried them to use later in a casserole or meatloaf or meatballs.

    How many of you save unused paper napkins from a restaurant? Some places toss more napkins on the table than 2 people can possibly use and they get thrown away if you don’t use them. Or the time we went through the drive-thru at McDonald’s for an ice cream cone and they handed us 25 paper napkins. I pocket those unused paper napkins and take them home and put them in a nice old holder. You can think of all the uses for them…. I especially like them if I drop an egg on the floor. That’s one time I miss a paper towel, so an absconded paper napkin to the rescue.

    I put the clean “saved” paper napkins in hubby’s lunch and he brings them back home after lightly using them. We use the “used” paper napkins to scour our stainless steel pans with cleanser when we do dishes. THEN they get tossed into the trash. If there aren’t any “used” paper napkins, we use a wad of newspaper or a hunk out of a brown paper bag. For wiping out greasy pans I use newspaper or a wadded up sheet out of a catalog. BTW, the only newspaper we get is the free community paper once a week, so I guard it and use it wisely (garden, homemade paper, gift wrap, etc.). In fact, I turn much of the waste paper (junk mail) into hand-made paper, and there are hundreds of uses for it. Karen G.


  11. We too, have been “paper towel free” for years. I noticed someone posted a question about bacon. I don’t own a microwave, and I think that may be where the question about not having paper towels for cooking bacon may stem from. Here’s what I do; I cook bacon in the oven on a metal rack placed in a jelly roll pan. I have a large family, so this allows me to cook a quantity all at once, and doesn’t splatter grease all over the stovetop. For cleanup, I either scrape the fat into a jar (for larger amounts) or simply lay a paper sack in the pan to absorb the grease residue before washing the pan. Keeps the mess down and doesn’t send grease down my kitchen sink…


  12. I know this will make some people cringe, but I can prove that the claim I’m about to make about bacon fat (and other natural fat) is true, so here goes…

    What did our very healthy ancestors do with bacon fat, chicken fat, duck fat, pork fat? They ate it. They used it to cook with. They were healthy because this was the fat they ate regularly. Back to my ggg grandparents and yours, they probably raised their own food animals or bought animals that had been raised down the road, and any extra fat that the animals carried and the fat from cooking was saved in glass jars for use in stove-top cooking or baking (yum, chicken fat in biscuits!!!).

    There was a time before “vegetable oils” when our ancestors were healthy and lived healthy lives without prescription drugs. The rise in heart attacks, diabetes, strokes, and high blood pressure coincide with the introduction and use of “vegetable oils” and their subsequent hydrogenation and our increasing consumption thereof. Why were the oils hydrogenated? Because if they weren’t they went rancid, another word for oxidation, which means they are chemical unstable. Oxidation makes oils dangerous, which is why all the warnings about high heat and not exposing for long periods to air.

    What about natural saturated fats? Don’t they oxidize? The answer is, not easily. They’re chemically stable, so they can be used safely at higher temps than vegetable oils can (including olive oil), and because they’re chemically stable they don’t oxidize easily. They can be stored in glass for months and won’t go rancid.

    Are they safe? Yes, our bodies use natural animals fats to manufacture our (natural) hormones. Cells cannot be healthy (permeable) without cholesterol.

    For more about this, go to:

    So, the answer to the question of what to do with meat fat is, eat it, cook with it, discover goodness (and deliciousness) in its most natural form.


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