The Greenish Life: Reusable Kitchen Towels


Thanks to Enviro Safe Home for providing me with product for this post. All thoughts are my own.

Hello and welcome to my first The Greenish Life (TGL) Post!  I’m so glad that you’ve decided to stop by and let me share my tips, tricks, and products for simple steps you can take to make your family’s life a little bit greener!  I want to start off by saying that I am by no means an expert in this topic; I’m just a mom who’s on a journey toward greener living for her family!  I’d love to invite you to come along this journey with me!  In this series, I’ll be sharing a combination of steps I’ve already put into practice as well as new suggestions I’ve found that I’ll be attempting and sharing!  Because I’ll be featuring some untried-by-me suggestions, there will probably be some failures; I just hope that the fails are, at a minimum, entertaining and that we learn something new along the way! 

Today I want to talk about reusable kitchen towels; by this, I mean any reusable item you would use in place of traditional paper towels.  But, I guess the question I need to answer first is why I made the switch from traditional paper towels in the first place.  Now, I won’t bore you with a ton of statistics (they’re out there if you’re really interested), but like most things I’ll feature here on TGL, reusable kitchen towels are (1) better for my family’s health and (2) better for the environment; satisfying at least one of these, but preferably both, will pretty much be the standard for whether I’ll try a new suggestion going forward. 

So, to my family’s health: most commercially available paper towels contain chemicals such as chlorine bleach and formaldehyde, as well as other carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals.  Now I know that I can’t get every harmful chemical away from my family, but I try to do what I can to kick some of them. As to the environment: in the US alone, paper towels generate up to six million pounds of waste per day and 51,000 trees are required to reproduce them, just to turn around and become waste again tomorrow!  Now, assuming you’re on board with ditching traditional paper towels, or are at least interested enough to keep reading for a bit longer, I’ll move on to the obvious next question: what’s the alternative?  I suggest Reusable Kitchen Towels!

There are a lot of terms that cover this item: reusable paper towels made of non-traditional fibers, “UpPaper” towels, flour sack or kitchen towels just to name a few.  But, whatever you call them, a reusable kitchen towel is basically any towel or item you can use instead of a traditional paper towel or napkin, you use it more than once; and that, after use, instead of trashing it, you wash and reuse!  This process addresses the waste issue, no trashing means nothing going into a landfill, and, because they’re made of some form of cloth or non-tree fibers, the chemicals aren’t an issue either!

Now, assuming you’re on board with trying this out with me, what’s the next step?  How do you make the switch?  Well, here’s what happened at my house.  When I decided to try out reusable kitchen towels, I wasn’t 100% sure that my family would be able to stick with it, so I didn’t want to invest much, if any money, in the endeavor.  I started with the ten or so kitchen towels I already owned but, instead of continuing to store them in a drawer in the corner of my kitchen, I put them in a basket on the counter.  In fact, because I’ve found that my family will reach for whatever is most convenient, I put the basket right where the paper towel roll had previously sat.  I didn’t want to get rid of the disposable option entirely, so I stuck just them in the kitchen cabinet right below where they had been.  I thought that my husband might balk at the idea of reusable but moving them into the cabinet has proved to be “out of sight, out of mind” and he made the change almost without comment.

My Reusable Kitchen Towel Basket, right where my paper towel holder used to live!

Once I determined that we would be able to stick with the change, I needed some more towels; I was running out of them before my normal laundry schedule and doing extra loads of laundry would really defeat my purpose of a simple, almost-no-extra-work change (plus running the washing machine an extra cycle isn’t the most environmentally friendly solution).  After trying out a number of options (I’m a big fan of the flour sack towels from IKEA) I was introduced to Bamboo Paper Towels.  I guess that these are technically still paper; bamboo is a tree, right? But bamboo is a much more environmentally friendly product (again, I won’t bore you with a bunch of statistics, but to mention just one of many reasons, bamboo converts more carbon dioxide into oxygen than hardwood trees, working to clean the environment faster!) and they aren’t one-and-done!  Bamboo Paper Towels are designed to be washed and reused up to 85 times! 

Bamboo Paper Towels in Packaging

Bamboo Paper Towels in Packaging

Bamboo Paper Towels

I put these to the test and I can say I was very impressed!  Unlike my normal kitchen towels, they feel like a traditional paper towel in hand, but sturdier and they absorb a lot more! I also really like that the pack comes with normal and “extra-scrubby” rolls.  I’m a little embarrassed to show you this, but I tried out a scrubby towel on my very dirty stovetop (my husband cooked...) and it worked great!  All I did was wet it with water (no cleaning product at all) and wipe it down!

Dirty Stove 

Clean Stove

I also love that they can be used in place of a disposable moping pad, again meaning fewer chemicals in my home and less waste in my trash!  For a cost comparison, Swiffer wet pads cost between $0.32 and $0.59 EACH on Amazon (depending on which package you buy).  I dedicated 1 of my scrubby bamboo towels to floor cleaning and it'll end up costing me less than half a penny per use! (This cost from the Amazon price of  $19.99 for the package of 40 towels, 20 scrubby and 20 plain, and up to 85 washes per towel)

Bamboo Paper Towel on my floor mop

So, onto the fun part: how to clean for reuse.  I keep a small hamper in my laundry room and simply toss in the dirty towels.  Then, once it’s time to do my normal laundry, I just throw the towels in along with everything else, easy-peasy!  A note on the Bamboo Paper Towels, while some reusable kitchen towels can go in the dryer, these will need to be air-dried.  This is, admittedly, a tiny bit more work; but, at the end of the day, that’s just one more step for the environment and your pocketbook; line drying is easy and free (no need to run the dryer) just takes a tiny bit of patience and a little bit of space!

A huge bonus of this switch is that it has saved me a ton of money!  I can’t say exactly how much, but I know that I haven’t had to buy paper towels in over a year and, because I wash them with my normal laundry cycle, it’s not costing me anything more than my initial investment of buying the towels!

I do have to admit, that I still keep a roll of traditional paper towels in my kitchen for the big greasy messes and drying raw meat (things I don’t want to put in my washing machine); but in the year and a half or so since we switched I haven’t had to buy more than what I happened to already have when we started! 

Well, I hope you’ve at least enjoyed this recap of my adventure of moving from traditional paper towels to reusable kitchen towels!  I also hope that I’ve got you thinking that maybe you could try this switch out!  If that’s the case, we can offer you a discount when you buy more than one set!  Just use the code 2DAZBVK7 when you order on Amazon and you'll get 5% off two sets, 10% off three, or 15% off five! If you are interested in trying out reusable kitchen towels and have any questions, or have already made this switch and want to share your experience, please leave your questions and comments below!  I would also love to hear about any of your adventures in going greener; please share your own tips and tricks and I may feature them in an upcoming TGL Post!

Update! Enviro Safe Home has a new reusable bamboo product, just made available! Kitchen Cloths and Dish Rags! The set, which is only $8.50 on Amazon contains two Bamboo Kitchen Cloths and six Bamboo Dish Rags!  I was lucky enough to try them out and I was very impressed with the quality!  I invite you to try them out and help you along your journey to a greener life!



4 comments

  1. I've never tried reusable kitchen towels before. They seem very impressive! I like that they're made of bamboo.

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    1. I do too! I honestly had no idea just how good they were for the environment compared to regular paper until I started researching for this article. And I truly couldn't be more pleased with how well these work!

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  2. I am using it, and i am big fan of it... i pile up almost 50 sheets in bucket, which are good enough to use whole house cleaning and last 7-10 days laundry cycle. I didn't use regular paper towels in months except for the mess that i don't want to wash in laundry. They dry super fast...I lay it down flat right on top of my dryer, one over other and it dries out itself. No more waste of paper!!

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    1. That's great! And it's good to hear that they'll dry in a stack, since I know not everyone has a drying rack!

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