One of the big blessings of our new living situation is constant access to a fast, full-sized washing machine and dryer. It’s impossible to describe how much I missed those two guys. Suddenly laundry seems so simple and easy. Mommy’s response to all accidents has become a light-hearted, “That’s okay, we’ll just wash it!” Our first week in the house I put Hugh back into cloth diapers. Norah wore them from six weeks old and I always intended to use them for all the kids–until I realized the laundry situation in our low-budget accommodation in England would make it impossible. Miraculously I hung onto the cloth diapers and they have made a comeback. Now for the serious talk: using cloth is not only more responsible care for creation, it saves us about $60 a month.
That felt so good that I finally instituted something else that I’ve been meaning to try for four years. And I’m so bummed that I didn’t do this sooner that I pass it on to you, dear reader. It’s the least I can do. Do you know what the average American family spends on paper towels in a year? I do (because I just looked it up). Most sources put it at about $180.
I use them mainly in the kitchen, to mop up spills and children and do the jobs I don’t want to use the dishcloth for–like wipe out the high chair and spot-clean the floor. I’m a clean-as-you-go cook (Thank you, Julia Child) and I even peel potatoes on to them, etc. In the end, I use reeeeeeeeeels of the things. I was cutting up old baby towels to make face cloths for the kids but the terry cloth doesn’t dry out very fast, leading to stinky smelling cloths. (Like what happens to the dishcloths if I don’t always rinse them in hot water, wring them out very well, and hang them up to dry.) So for some time we’ve just scrubbed tomato-ey little faces with paper towels.
Remember those snowy flour-sack dishtowels? I love them. I embroider them as gifts, hang them as curtains, wear them as pajamas (kidding, kidding on the last part). I took a few of those and cut them in fourths. Voilá! Cloth towels, what a novel idea.
They are absorbent and fast-drying, so I can rinse and reuse a bit before washing. I have them in a basket above the kitchen sink for convenience. Laundered with hot water they’ll come clean and last a long time. When it’s time to replace them, flour sacks run about $2 each, that’s just 50 cents per cloth.