Why don’t you . . . give up paper towels?

This post is a part of the illuminating Why don’t you” series. No judgment! We’re just curious.

Back in the early days of the Green Baby Guide, I wrote a whole post about living without paper towels—even if you have a baby to clean up after. Really, I just can’t see paying money when there is a free alternative: rags. This is why I don’t buy paper napkins, either. They really add almost nothing to a load of laundry, so I don’t count the water and energy used to wash them.

If you use them, try recycled paper towels!

However, I know many eco-conscious people do use paper towels. If they’re made from recycled materials and home composted, they don’t do much damage at all. But still . . . why don’t you give up paper towels?


  1. We’ve *mostly* given up paper towels. I say mostly because we still keep a roll on hand for messes that are just too yucky to clean up with something non-disposable. Like when our dog ate my mums and got sick. All over the house. Repeatedly. **shudders** So we still use them but we use them at about the rate of 2 rolls a year (if that).

  2. I like to have them on hand but hardly use them, just for things like getting bacon grease out of a pan. I’ve seen people say that you can save $120+ by not using paper towels. That’s a lot of paper towels and that can definitely be cut back on!! We have found that a balance that works well for our family and only buy about a pack a year.

  3. I also still have paper towels on hand, though I rarely use them. I second the idea of needing something disposable for icky cleanups like dog or cat throw up, and we also keep paper towels on hand for draining items after frying. Otherwise though we use cloth napkins, towels or rags!

  4. Molly – for getting bacon grease out of the pan, I just use a rubber spatula. It works great. And for getting the bacon grease out of the just fried bacon, I just put a cooling rack over a plate and lay the bacon across that.

  5. Agreed. I have old hand towels, too worn to use for drying dishes – and thats what i use to grease skillets, soak up bacon grease, etc. we have paper towels only for vomit messes (2 adults, 3 kids and 2 dogs)

  6. I would like to switch to using rags instead of paper towels, but we have a small home with very little storage space. Does anyone have suggestions on how to store the rags in a handy place. My kitchen only has one drawer and I am currently storing rags in my laundry room but this is not a convenient place for daily use.

  7. I rarely use paper towels. Maybe a couple of rolls a year. But I do like them for gross stuff — cleaning up raw meat juices or poop.

  8. Brittany, for a long time I kept mine in a cloth bag hanging from a hook. I also think one of those plastic bag keepers (you know with a hole on the top and a smaller hole on the bottom) could work great and can be kind of cute. I have a cute one from IKEA that I paid about 2 bucks for and you can stick it to the inside of a cabinet. It doesn’t take up any more space than a paper towel roll.

    I even use rags for gross stuff. just have a bucket nearby to put them in as you dirty them, then straight to the washer and disinfect the bucket. It really is not any more difficult than that.

  9. I was inspired by the earlier post to give up paper towels this year, and we have! One thing we did was put up a hook near the kitchen sink on which we keep a clean towel for drying our hands or just-washed produce (my biggest use of paper towels previously).

  10. I still use paper towels, but I have SERIOUSLY cut down my use by having small washcloths in our kitchen…check out my solution here


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