of non-paper towels

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.

Until now.

IMG_1439Remember 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.

IMG_1438They 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.

IMG_1445I think this only works if there’s a ton of them and they’re right there, ready to use when somebody yells Uh-oh Mommy. Or when this guy is sitting in your kitchen.


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11 Responses to of non-paper towels

  1. Krisie Brown says:

    What a great!!! idea. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for putting the Advent series on a printable format. I love sharing this resource with other moms. Keep up the great writing.

  2. Cara says:

    Who cares about the towels – get me some more of that little boy of yours, and quick. OH MY GOODNESS. He is de. LISH! I would let him smear all that whatever-it-is all over my face for a kiss. You lucky girl.

  3. Juli says:

    Hooray for cloth nappies (sorry, diapers…)! Welcome back to the dark side, or should I say, the fluffy side!! 🙂

    At the risk of providing too much information of a very personal kind, washable menstrual pads are also a great way of reducing waste and they are soooo much more comfortable than plasticky disposables.

  4. Hannah Blair says:

    Could you allude to what brand of flour sack towels you use? There are a lot of mixed reviews out there!

    • betsy says:

      Oh dear, Hannah, I’d love to help you but I do not know. I have used at least three different kinds–some my mom picked up and sent to me (does she know me or what?) and others I’ve bought. I’ve often bought them at Target, next time I’ll be ordering them on Amazon. I guess I’m not particular as to brand.

      • Hannah Blair says:

        That certainly helps me be not particular, then…thanks! And thanks so much for the Advent readings-we’re using them with our 2 yr old and baby, the former of which has asked, “Jesus a chubby baby?” and upon my answer ran to her little sister to tell her that “Willa, you chubby like God!”

      • betsy says:

        That’s hilarious! Write that stuff down! (And I love the name Willa, by the way, well done.) I hope that the towel thing works out. Merry Christmas!

  5. Deanna says:

    I have a load in our miniature washing drum which took 1.5 hours to wash (on the quick wash setting!!) and which are waiting to be hung on a rack in my living room. Because, what’s a living room without a rack full of damp clothes to maneuver around day and night? You’re telling me you don’t miss that??!!

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