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How to Quit Using Paper Towels

Paper towels are almost ubiquitous these days in the United States. Most families use them because they’re just so convenient! No extra laundry, just use that quicker picker upper and throw it in the trash.

Only trouble is that it’s a bit wasteful. How wasteful depends on the source of your paper towels, whether they’re made of post consumer recycled materials and so forth, but overall, they’re probably on the wasteful side of things. At the very least you have to keep buying them.

But they’re so convenient, how do you quit?

1. Warn your family

Your spouse and children are the most likely to resist the switch. It can be a bit difficult to get buy-in on getting rid of paper towels, even if you’re the main one doing the laundry.

On the other hand, my oldest was delighted to see that a microfiber cleaning cloth was indeed as good at absorbing water as the one on the commercial. Made paper towels a bit less interesting.

2. Pick other cleaning cloths

You have a few options for other cleaning cloths. The most eco friendly is to use rags made of cloths you’d be throwing out otherwise. Think of bath towels that have gone bad and are ready to be torn into smaller pieces. Think of t-shirts with holes that really shouldn’t be worn anymore.

These are great, eco friendly and really kind to the budget.

But if you’d rather buy something, microfiber cleaning cloths are popular with good reason. They do an amazingly good job, and good quality ones last a long time.

They’re made of synthetic materials, so they aren’t perfectly environmentally friendly, but the good ones last very well and are strong enough to help you get surfaces clean even without conventional cleaners. I use vinegar and/or baking soda for much of my cleaning, and those products get along great with my microfiber cloths.

Microfiber cleaning cloths are soft, but are textured well enough to scrub. They can absorb a nice amount of liquid, so one cloth can go pretty far when you’re cleaning.

3. Finish off, store or give away your remaining paper towels

You have the paper towels, you may as well use them. You have a few options for what exactly you’re going to do with them.

You could just finish off what you have, trying to slow down their use rather than making the family go cold turkey on paper towel use.

If you have an emergency kit, you could put the rolls in there. You will need such convenient supplies if you ever have the sort of emergency where you need to use an emergency kit, so having paper towels in there is really not a bad thing.

You could also give your excess paper towels away. Just tell the people you’re giving them to what you’re up to. They might want to follow along eventually.