Cutting Back on Paper Towels

After posting here that I do my best not to use paper towels and that a 12-pack would last us a year, or possibly more, I got several questions of, “How Do You Do It? Especially with two little kids?!”

Let me tell you that I thought that I could never break my “paper towel obsession” (especially after having a second child.) I felt like I spent half my day cleaning up spills and my first instinct was to run into the kitchen and grab a paper towel. Quick. Convenient.—-and yet costly and totally not good for the environment.

I first started with my “Paper Towel Challenge.” I simply put a Post-It note with my starting date on the paper towel roll. Each time I’d want to grab a paper towel, I actually thought twice about it and tried an alternate route. You see, I love challenging myself and my goal was to see how long I could make that one roll of paper towels last. It ended up lasting us 20 days.

This got me to thinking, hey, if I can go 20 days, I can probably just about do away with them completely. So I kept my eyes open for some super great deals on dish cloths in different colors and this is what we use now. I usually have three cloths going: one for floor spills, one for dishes and one for “kid clean-up.” They are real small and don’t add much to our laundry loads so I really don’t use any extra soap/water. I’ve had the cloths for over a year now and they are all still perfectly intact.

So simply put, the way to not use them is to not have them around! Now, I do buy them to keep on hand for our parties and playdates. I don’t expect everyone to quickly learn our “system” and adapt to it. Plus, when you have usually 15 kids in one house, more than one “kid clean-up” cloth is needed! :)

One question I get sometimes is “What do you do for cooking bacon in the microwave?” We actually use this Presto Microwave Bacon Cooker which works real well and eliminates the need for paper towels between the slices. I either use that or cook them right in the skillet if I have that going for other things.

Just try the “Paper Towel Challenge” for one month and see if you can cut back on your paper towel usage, too!

Also, if you’re looking to cut some costs in your budget, check out a few of my other postings in the “Cutting Costs” series that I did. I really do need to get a few more added to that series!

Thank you for stopping by Coupon Geek! I value my readers and their advice, tips and comments. Please remember that Coupon Geek is a positive, family-friendly and upbeat site when leaving your comments.


  1. says

    That is so great! We used all of the “baby washcloths” that we got when B was born…the really small thin ones… I keep them in a drawer in the kitchen and use them for the kids. I like the idea of keeping three cloths going at a time!

    Again with you and the brilliant ideas :)

  2. Sharon says

    I have been doing this since my second child who is now three was born. I use old spit up rags that were given to me and never used in the kitchen now. My three year old and my one year old are cleaned up after each meal and the table and floor are cleaned up and they are added to the towel load. They dont take up that much room so this is why we like them too.

  3. Brenda says

    Ok….I’m ready for the challenge! We go through more paper towels around here…I blame my husband and children, but I’m just as bad. I’ll grab one and use it and then think “That was not necessary!” I’m ready for the challenge. I’m going to start with the post-it (Let’s face it, I can’t go cold-turkey here…I’m addicted!) But hopefully from there I can stop all together…save our planet (and our wallets!) Thanks for your inspiration, Jaycie! =)

  4. vanessa Delgado says

    I have been doing this for a while now. and yes to break the habit we just didnt buy any paper towels, I did buy a thing of napkins for when we eat.

    I have found a lot of nice towels that are either the micorfiber ones or bar style ones, i got those on clearance at walmart or other places at the end of the seasons. and my kitchen is in red and white so xmas clearance and valentines clearances are the best time for me to stock up on decorating items.

  5. says

    How funny that you should post an article like this today. Last night, as I was cleaning my kitchen with my last roll of paper towels (which thankfully I got for free at Target) I was thinking to myself how unnecessary they truly are. I don’t remember my mom ever using them around the house and we all survived just fine. After this roll is finished, I’m switching to cloth towels. Plus, if you think about it, you can get 5-10 dish towels at Ross for the price of a paper towel 6-pack. I’m joining this challenge!

  6. jacquie says

    I use to use the baby wash clothes too but did not like them as they were too small. I went to Walmart a few months ago – they have a huge package of colored wash clothes for under $5. Each kid is “assigned” a color for the kitchen table. I have them all over the house. Since it is such a large set I use them for everything and throw them in the wash. 6 different colors / 3 of each. I found them in the bath section at my walmart. Two different sets of colors – one more bold and the other softer.

  7. Carol says

    We have not used paper towels any where except our bathrooms for years. I do use them in the bathrooms as I do not like the thought of any bacteria on handtowels. We use different towels in the kitchen and napkins for dinner. I own a childrens cooking school and we do not use papertowels in the kitchens there either, the kids use a dishtowel to dry on or we have the brown paper dispensers in the restrooms when they wash up.

  8. Melissa Potocnik says

    I like this idea! I have actually been thinking about this recently, ever since the commercial started playing for that new sponge. I can’t remember who makes it, but it’s made of recycled fibers. They claim it can do the work of quite a few rolls of paper towels. My favorite part is that you can put it in the dishwasher to clean it! Brilliant! I think I’m going to try one and see how it goes.

  9. coupongeek says


    Yes, I forgot to mention I do use some in the bathrooms. Mostly on our mirrors, though. I’ve yet to find a good cloth that doesn’t leave fibers/fuzzies all over the mirrors. Does anyone have any tips on that?

  10. Krista says

    I never buy paper towels. occasionally will get a roll if they are free because there are people that visit that really want to use them and not a kitchen towel. But I use cloths for everything. We also use cloth napkins. we have 4 kids, one day my son then 4 asked for a napkin at a friends house, he was handed a paper napkin and he said “I asked for a napkin, please” he didnt know what a paper napkin was, lol. try getting rid of paper napkins too!

  11. BusyGal says

    Okay I understand why you would want to stop using paper towels. But I must say I get really grossed out with the fact that most people wash their dish towels with their clothes. Especially their un-mentionables. I personally have a ton of dish towel and dish clothes and I use them all up until I get down to the last one and then I wash by themselves in Clorox, because I don’t want my dishtowels and something that had been on my rear end mingling together in the wash. As for the bathroom we change out our hand towel twice a day after we use it in the morning and again in the evening.

  12. coupongeek says

    I don’t wash mine with my clothes or unmentionables but with my other towels. The hot water kills everything gross.

  13. says

    I am very bad at it, my mom is just perfect on this subject. She buys thin towels and uses them all over her kitchen over and over again, she rarely uses paper towels. I really don’t understand how she does that? I feel like if I don’t wipe it without paper towel it is not clean and I don’t like the moist that other cloth are leaving.

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