Goodbye Paper Towels

By Steph

Recently I wrote about our goal to “Ditch the Disposables,” so for today’s Works For Me Wednesday, I thought I’d get into the details of how Matt and I have managed without paper towels for over a year.

The first step is determining when you might use paper towels.  Not all messes are equally dirty, so in our home, I choose to use a different cloth towel for different sorts of messes.  Specifically, I don’t want to use a cloth towel to clean my kitchen table that was previously used to clean the toilet.  Even though I wash them in the laundry machines and feel confident that they are clean, it still makes me feel better not to use them interchangeably.  So we have dirty rags and kitchen towels.

Dirty Rags

The dirty rags themselves aren’t really dirty; I wash these in the laundry machines too.  But I call them dirty rags because they are used for dirty jobs.  They are stored with the mop head underneath the bathroom sink.  In their former life, my dirty rags were wash cloths, hand towels, and bath towels.  When we bought new towels a couple of years ago, these old towels got demoted to cleaning rags.

I am able to use one dirty rag (wash cloth size) to clean the whole bathroom by starting with the mirror, then cleaning the counter and sink, and cleaning the toilet last.  When I clean both bathrooms in one day, I use two different rags.  The tubs get cleaned with an old sponge that got demoted from the kitchen.  The sponge gets thrown away when a newer sponge gets demoted from the kitchen.

I also use dirty rags on floors quite frequently.  I have a baby, after all. 😉

The large rags that were once bath towels are used during rainy icky weather.  I lay one out by the front door for us to put our shoes on.  Our entry way is small, and it helps keep mud off the carpet.

When it comes to laundry, I wash these dirty things separate from everything else.  It makes me feel like the ickiest germs aren’t getting on all of my other things, even if it’s all in my head.  Also, I include the mop head in this load of laundry, though I let it air dry.

Kitchen Towels

I want to call these rags too, but someone made fun of me once for referring to a kitchen towel as a “rag.”  Whatever you want to call them, I like to keep them separate from dirty jobs.  I keep them in the kitchen in a tote full of various towels.  I technically have two different types of kitchen towels used for cleaning (aside from the larger ones that are used for non-dirty kitchen jobs like drying dishes, etc), but I’m not picky enough to grouch at my husband when he grabs the wrong kitchen towel.  As long as he doesn’t grab a toilet rag to clean something in the kitchen (or our baby), then we can get along just fine.

But if I am the one to clean up a mess, I distinguish between our newer towels and our older ones.  If I’m using chemicals to clean up a mess, I go for the older ones.  If no chemicals are needed, then it doesn’t matter which ones are used.  However, if red sauce is involved, then I reach for the newer towels which are red.

It’s a pretty easy system and easy to adopt or adapt depending on your needs.  It Works For Me!

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