Reusable paper towels are gaining in popularity and I’ll tell you what they are, how to use them and the best ones to buy in this ultimate guide.
What are reusable paper towls?
Reusable paper towels are clothes you can wash and use over again. They are made to replace the your roll of single use paper towels. They come on a paper towel roll or in a package. They go by many names including “unpaper towels” and “paperless towels”.
Unlike regular napkins or tea towels, they are more absorbent and made to clean up spills. Some come in different colors or have a cute print on them. If you are looking to decrease your carbon footprint and save money at the same time, these products are for you.
What are they made of?
They are usually made of some kind of fabric, like cotton, or a cellulose, like bamboo pulp or a combination of the two. They are made to be sturdy and most can handle at least 100 washings. After their lifespan has ended, most can be recycled for zero waste.
Why should you use reusable paper towels?
In short, you can save money and the environment at the same time. Single-use paper towels use up a lot of energy, and trees, to make. Not to mention filling up our already bursting landfills. Studies found that Americans throw away 13 billion pounds of paper towels a year. That’s the equivalent of 240 million trees and a lot of waste winding up in landfills.
While the initial investment in reusable paper towels is a bit more expensive, the average family of four goes through 2 rolls of single use paper towels a week. At $2 a roll, it’s easy to recoup your money in a few weeks and still have reusable paper towels to use for months. And the US trumps all other countries in paper towel usage on a per capita basis.
It seems we haven’t quite gotten the memo yet. And if you are serious about reducing your carbon footprint, pair reusable paper towels with eco-friendly cleaning products like Blueland Cleaning Products. You can also clean your whole house with Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap.
How to use reusable paper towels
These reusable cloth sheets work just like regular paper towels. Some come on a roll and you just tear off the sheet like a regular paper towel. Some come folded like napkins and you just grab and go. For these types, if they cling together enough you can roll them on a paper towel roll or holder.
Some kinds come with their own holders. A great DIY idea is to use an old tissue box for the washed towels and they will pop up like tissue paper. Determine which kind will work best for you and your family.
How to wash them
Be sure to read the care instructions on the package, but most reusable paper towels can be washed in the washing machine. Some you can also put in the dishwasher. Most should last at least 100 washes. Many people wonder if they are sanitary. If you want to disinfect them even more, stick your damp towel in the microwave for a minute.
Best brands for the money
ECOLifestyle Reusable Paper Towels
These paper towels are one of the best products for the money. They are made of 100% bamboo, which is a renewable resource. They are made with no chemicals. They have a four star rating out of over 3,000 reviews. They have high marks on absorbency.
Some reviewers say they are not as durable as the product purports, with the cloths falling apart in the washing machine. Most reviewers hand wash them and they have reported getting many uses out of one towel. They don’t go so well onto a paper towel roll.
Durable if hand washed
Mioeco Unpaper towels
These reusable towels are made of 100% cotton (disregard the “bamboo” in the title on Amazon) so they are highly durable and can be machine washed. They are a bit pricey but they will outlast many other brand of unpaper towels. They have 4 1/2 stars with over 1,000 reviews on Amazon.
People did report that they shrunk in the dryer so perhaps drying on a line or rack is best. They can be rolled back onto a paper towel holder.
Marley’s Monsters Reusable UNpaper Towel Roll
These are the most expensive on the list, but they have great reviews. Made from 100% cotton flannel they are highly durable. They are handmade in the USA (Eugene, OR) and come in cute prints. They do go back on a paper towel roll. Complaints include them not being as absorbent as they could be but the company says they will increase absorbency with washing.
More absorbent with washing
Reel Premium Bamboo Paper Towels
This one is technically not a “reusable” paper towel but I am including it here because of Reel’s growing popularity and it checks most of the environmentally friendly boxes.
Reel is a paper company whose mission is to address and help reverse some of the growing problems our planet faces, like climate change and lack of sufficient resources.
Reel makes its products out of 100% bamboo, which is a sustainable and eco-friendly resource. There are no inks, dyes or BPAs in their products.
Their paper towels and toilet paper are high quality and 3-ply. It is a subscription service so 12 rolls of paper towels will cost you $39.99 and you can get them delivered every 4, 8 or 12 weeks. Or you can make a one-time purchase.
All their packaging is recyclable and plastic free. As we’ve seen above, bamboo is highly absorbent and a renewable resource.
DIY Reusable Paper Towels
If you want to save money and are a bit crafty, you can make your own DIY reusable paper towels pretty simply and inexpensivly. Watch this quick video from the Online Fabric Store.