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Paper towel replacement


Farrar
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I just use old washcloths or dishcloths. I take our old cotton terrycloth washcloths and I fold them into squares and keep them in a bin in the kitchen. They are way more absorbent than paper towels. Those thin polyester cloths are not absorbent at all. I was reluctant to stop using paper towels but it has saved money and reduced garbage and the washcloths work for me. Even if you buy new washcloths it will save you money but I think cotton and dense us better than polyester and fluffy.

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I didn't get rid of paper towels but seldom use them. We use cotton dish towels for big jobs, washcloths for smaller stuff. And I have a bin of microfiber cloths that I cut up and keep under the sink, but those are more for cleaning than for soaking things up. 

The cotton dish cloths from Ikea are fabulous - they are my go to when I am drying dishes and such. I actually heard about them on a cloth diaper site - people use them as cloth diapers because they are absorbent and hold up well. I have some several years old that look new. 

Edited by Ktgrok
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I use cheap washcloths, cut-up old cotton t-shirts, and cut-up pieces of try cloth from the tenants bin at the fabric store. Most are holdouts from when my dc were little. The t-shirts and Terry cloths are old/cheap enough that it doesn't bother me to pitch them when needed.

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12 minutes ago, Farrar said:

Diapers! Ha. They would definitely be absorbent.

They really are! And I have dyed some in colors that look nice in our house, though unbleached would also be fine plain. I fold some and keep them in a basket on the sideboard with the cloth napkins, and roll a couple and have them in a decorative bowl in the kitchen.

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I cut up old towels and have rags.  they work great.  I've always done that. absorb more, last longer, and  cheaper too.

paper towels are a convenience when traveling/picnicking/camping/etc.

you could conceivably use microfiber shop towels, (I use them for car  detailing)

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I keep a basket of the bar mop dish rags and dish towels on the kitchen counter. I've found that the ones from WalMart work well (I was very disappointed in the ones I bought at Target). I would say that they absorb well. Alas, that still hasn't weaned us off of paper towel use. I grab a rag or towel for various things instead of paper towels, but the others in the household grab paper towels for everything. And for icky stuff I do, too. I cringe at the thought of wiping up meat juices with a rag or towel that's going into the wash. Ditto for wiping up something off the floor, even if I've just mopped.

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2 hours ago, Farrar said:

Anyone have a reusable paper towel replacement that actually soaks up liquids? I’m not buying anything else until someone can attest that it doesn’t just push liquids around while getting mildly damp.

I have some nice cloths that were meant to be cloth diapers, I think they may be part cotton, part hemp? Not sure but they are super absorbent.

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I have, and I hate to admit this, a stack of old pale yellow damask cloth napkins that were too faded to continue to use at the table.  I got them used, and they didn't last much longer for regular use.  So I use them where most people use paper towels, for small clean ups like a splash on a table or countertop.  I wash them in hot water and since I own 8 of them, they are always on hand.  For bigger jobs I use old bath towels, which I keep on my dryer in the laundry room.  (I should really come up with a better spot.)  I can grab several, if necessary for a big spill, and throw them on it quickly and then mop up afterwards.  They contain things much faster than paper towels, and don't shred so they are easier to clean up.  I grab a dishpan, load the sopping towels in it, and dump them directly into the wash machine.  If the liquid is fairly contaminated, like a big coffee spill, I run them through a rinse cycle before adding laundry detergent and washing as usual.  I recycle old towels once they start to fray badly as I don't want them to hurt my laundry equipment by falling apart.

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I definitely don’t think I can stop paper towels altogether. I’d just like to reduce them. Kitchen towels don’t absorb liquid very well though. I don’t know what cloth napkins y’all have. Mine all have to be submerged in water for a minute before they even really get properly wet. Maybe I’ll try cheap washcloths... they still don’t absorb as well as a paper towel.

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Whatever you get, don't use fabric softener, or even put them in the dryer (due to dryer sheet residue). If you just wash them and hang them to dry, they will be far more absorbent. Fabric softener tends to make things repel water. I got some microfiber towels for drying my dishes, and they work great as long as I just hang them to dry. They also dry very quickly.

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2 hours ago, Quercus said:

 

10 minutes ago, Farrar said:

I definitely don’t think I can stop paper towels altogether. I’d just like to reduce them. Kitchen towels don’t absorb liquid very well though. I don’t know what cloth napkins y’all have. Mine all have to be submerged in water for a minute before they even really get properly wet. Maybe I’ll try cheap washcloths... they still don’t absorb as well as a paper towel.

You are using the wrong kind of kitchen towels 🙂

The flour sack ones are super absorbent, and wash up well. Or the ones from ikea. You want 100 percent cotton, and definitely don't use fabric softener. I do dry mine in the dryer and don't have an issue, but I don't use fabric softener or dryer sheets on them. 

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I buy small cheap washcloths at Target, they come in a pack of four for just a few dollars and last for.ever. I prefer the small size for general cleaning and clean up over my larger dish towels.

I have never used paper towels my entire adult life. My mother didn’t either. She always kept leftover napkins from takeout in case paper was really needed, like for lots of grease. I do the same thing, but very rarely need to use them. 

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Bar mop towels and cloth prefold diapers are what we use. We still keep some paper towels around (I'm not putting a cloth diaper over a bowl in the microwave to keep it from splattering the inside of the microwave while it heats even if that diaper has never seen a baby's bum) but spills get wiped up with bar mops or prefolds. If it's a huge spill (full gallon or more) we use old towels that are no longer used for drying off after a shower but still have a little bit of life left in them. They work well for vomit too because if it is just too gross to wash and reuse, I have no problem throwing the old towel away. I've even been known to buy old towels at the thrift store when they are $1 or less per towel. Sometimes our towels just don't wear out fast enough so I'm always looking for cheap or free towels even if they are on their last leg.

Like was said above about fabric softener is a huge part of what reduces the effectiveness of towels. I was them with a cup or two of white vinegar to help keep them soft but still absorbent. I still dry in the dryer (knowing that any residue is going to get on them) but they really do work better if you can line dry. Also if your water is less than perfect, salts, minerals and other matter in the water can build up on everything you wash too and make towels less absorbent as a result. Our water is naturally very soft but full of iron. I can tell when the filter needs attention because my towels start pushing water around instead of absorbing it. Putting a cup of borax or washing soda (or both) in with the towels helps correct minor water imperfections if you are on city water.

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26 minutes ago, VaKim said:

Whatever you get, don't use fabric softener, or even put them in the dryer (due to dryer sheet residue). If you just wash them and hang them to dry, they will be far more absorbent. Fabric softener tends to make things repel water. I got some microfiber towels for drying my dishes, and they work great as long as I just hang them to dry. They also dry very quickly.

Dryers aren't a problem if you never use fabric softener for anything 😉

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I have a big batch of cheap white wash cloths that I only use in the kitchen.  I use them for spills and cleaning and don't use fabric softener on them.  Paper towels are pretty much only used by guests and for draining greasy foods.  We use hand towels, dish towels, napkins, and the wash cloths for everything else.  

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