Poll

How many rolls of paper towels do you use in a year?

none
3 and under
24 and under
over 25

Author Topic: Do you use paper towels or cloth?  (Read 11569 times)

Offline makingchanges

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Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« on: March 06, 2008, 07:43:09 AM »
I have been thinking a lot about paper towel usuage. I need to stay away from bleach, save money, and be greener. My reasons in that order. How many paper towels do you use? Why and how do you handle the need for paper towels. We use a lot in our house. Like 1.5 rolls a week. Everyone just grabs one constantly. In fact,  I wonder how I will stop the overusage. I'd love to do things differently. How do you keep the cloths clean? smelly? How often do you wash? Any tips?? I'd love to get away from the chemicals and save MONEY!

Offline steadygirl

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2008, 07:51:11 AM »
My husband likes paper towels. I could probably easily live without them! I checked the 24 or under.(probably a roll a month here) If it were just me it would probably be the 3 and under. ;D I just use them for really nasty things or wiping out my cast iron pans. For most messes I use rags I made from old t-shirts and cut up sheets and towels. They work great! Since they are just for dirty jobs I don't worry about keeping them beautifully white or stain-free. I wash them in hot water and probably not as often as I should. ::) Just make they are dry before you toss them in a pile or they mold.

Offline Sunshine06

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2008, 07:59:30 AM »
We use paper towels for things like wiping a spill on the floor or for cleaning up something really yucky. Hubby uses them when he cleans car windows and some other stuff outside. For things like drying hands and dishes and wiping the counter, I use a dish towel.

We also started using cloth napkins recently and that REALLY cuts down on the number of napkins we use (two a day go in hubby's lunch, but that's it). I always hated throwing a napkin away after wiping my mouth on it once, so this was a good solution for us. I just bought some flannel and hemmed the edges.
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Offline girly

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2008, 08:01:26 AM »
We use cloth for everything other than dinner napkins.  I actually have those in cloth too but I have yet to establish us in a habit for those.  I think it would be easier if I were better about keeping on top of the laundry.  We do however use paper towel when we go camping - maybe 3 rolls a year.

Offline MommyGus

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2008, 09:44:48 AM »
I could live w/o them, but my hubby likes them b/c they are more sanitary.  We keep them around for him, and for certain messes.  I do seem to have a problem keeping rags from smelling even though I wash daily, anybody have any advice on that?  We still use, paper napkins, but the flannel sounded like a good idea. :)
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Offline healthybratt

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2008, 09:46:42 AM »
We don't use napkins unless we have company.  If we eat something really messy, I keep a washcloth handy.  I always have washcloths in the kitchen and bathroom (I have a huge supply).  I also cut up old towels, teeshirts and bedsheets to make rags.  We keep these in a bucket for spills and messes and I just throw them in the laundry and use them again.

We use paper towels, but very sparingly.  Napkins for guests, a mess that might not wash in the laundry very well, like say...motor oil or tar on the floor.

I have a huge drawer full of dishtowels for every "wet" need in the kitchen.  My dishtowels also get used for cleaning up spills and most of them aren't very pretty anymore, but I don't loan them out, so I don't care what they look like.  I also don't use them to decorate my stove and fridge like my grandma used to do, so no worries there either. ;D

For greasy foods, we used to use paper towels, but now I've found a microwave bacon plate that works well to drain greasy foods.  If I need something else, I use a paperplate (hubby's thing) on top of old newspapers, cardboard, or grocery bags.

« Last Edit: March 06, 2008, 09:48:50 AM by healthybratt »
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Offline makingchanges

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2008, 09:57:33 AM »
HB,
After you use the towels that are wet, how do you keep them from stinking?

Offline amy3js

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2008, 10:27:59 AM »
I clicked 24 and under, but we probably only use maybe 5 rolls a year. We just mostly use towels and washcloths. I use a lot of towels. I have a couple that I try to keep nice looking- for company or something- but the rest are well loved. The way I got us  comfortable with no more paper was to simply not have it. You can't use it if its not there! And then I tried to have towels and washcloths easily available.

For laundry I just hang anything wet on the side of my plastic laundry basket till its dry and then throw it in. This helps quite a bit. I usually do towels once a week, but I am trying to do them more frequently lately.
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Offline jenny4wen

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2008, 11:16:20 AM »
To keep your towels and rags from stinking, you need to make sure the dirty spills are rinsed out of them, and don't let the wet rag lay in a heap on it's wet self, wring it out and lay it flat or drape it on your sink divider or sink spout to air dry.  Change them daily, and wash them right away.  If they sit too long with that bacteria in them, it grows and rots, and the only way to get the smell out is to soak it in a bleach solution for a couple minutes. Not too long, or it'll eat your rag.  And then wash it right away.  Make sure once the wash is done, you move the laundry right away so that they get dried right away, and you should have no problem with stinky rags, and you will have an abundance of them. :) Hope this helps!
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Offline amy3js

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2008, 11:31:26 AM »
To keep your towels and rags from stinking, you need to make sure the dirty spills are rinsed out of them, and don't let the wet rag lay in a heap on it's wet self, wring it out and lay it flat or drape it on your sink divider or sink spout to air dry.  Change them daily, and wash them right away.  If they sit too long with that bacteria in them, it grows and rots, and the only way to get the smell out is to soak it in a bleach solution for a couple minutes. Not too long, or it'll eat your rag.  And then wash it right away.  Make sure once the wash is done, you move the laundry right away so that they get dried right away, and you should have no problem with stinky rags, and you will have an abundance of them. :) Hope this helps!

Oh yea- I am also a stickler about rinsing rags. Preferably in hot water (I don't mind if they are stained  ;))
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Offline healthybratt

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2008, 12:45:53 PM »
HB,
After you use the towels that are wet, how do you keep them from stinking?
I don't entirely, but to keep them fresh for a couple of days, I just make sure I rinse them well with hot tap water and wring them out hard and hang them up.  After a few days, then tend to smell anyway and I throw them in the laundry; however, I have found that my dishrags that are more like terry (like bath clothes) seem to smell less than the crochet (cotton) type.  Not sure why.

If they get bad (in the summer they sour faster - especially if it's muggy out) sometimes I wait till the end of the week or two and throw them all in the bottom of the washer with a bit of water and some borax to presoak before I do a load of laundry.  This helps get the smelly buildup out and lets me start over :D

For regular dish towels, I usually use those to wipe gook (butter, crumbs, water, etc) off my hands while cooking or occasionally to pick up spilled coffee or water or whatever and then wring if necessary and hang dry.  Then throw in the laundry.  So long as they dry quickly and it's not milk, they don't sour.  If it's milk, be sure and rinse well because it will sour.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2008, 12:48:59 PM by healthybratt »
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Offline ShabbyChic

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2008, 12:53:34 PM »
I use paper towels after I wash my hands from handling meat or anything icky, and we only use paper towels when someone is sick (which is rare) because of germs.  You know:  you use the towel, you're sick, brother comes behind you and uses the towel, he gets sick, etc.

But 9 times out of 10 we use wash cloths, dish towels or hand towels for everything.  I change them out near the sink/bathroom almost every day but sometimes every other day.  I do one load of laundry a day so they usually get caught.

For spills of milk, drinks, pee... and that kind of stuff we have old towels that we use.  If it's particularly bad I just throw the whole towel away.  I know, I know.  But I have a weak stomach and I always get 2 new towels for Xmas every year from my Nana, so I figure I can throw away 2 towels a year anyway.
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Offline milmuth

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2008, 10:03:58 PM »
we use alot.  Hubby prefers them, so we have them for him, and messy jobs like others have mentioned.  But my biggest use is cleaning windows.  We live in summer type weather almost year round, and literally have floor to ceiling windows and sliding glass doors throught our house- half of most rooms (except two bedrooms, bathrooms and laundry room) are windows..  I wash windows of two rooms each week to try and keep presentable.  I use papertowels and always wonder what else would work well?  We don't get hte paper, so that's out.  What do ya'll do to clean windows?

Offline heatheronthehill

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2008, 01:55:13 AM »
I rarely use paper towels.  I use them to season and dry my cast iron skillet, but that's about it! 

Someone asked about cleaning windows - I cut up my husband's old undershirts into pieces and use these.  They are perfect - no lint.  I also use them to wipe down the bathroom, etc...

We also keep "yuck towels" around.  Old ones with holes/bad staining and such.  Bath towels, hand towels, whatever.  It's nice to grab one of these for a big spill.  I keep a big laundry bag hanging in my laundry room and just toss the old cleaning rags in there.  I was them after it fills up, which usually takes a while.  Never noticed a bad smell though.

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2008, 02:24:03 AM »
We rarely if ever buy them, but use regular towels instead (cheaper).  But when we have family visit they always stock up for us, b/c they want them in the house to use and I think they feel sorry for us!  :D   

Offline brightspot

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2008, 03:26:04 AM »

Someone asked about cleaning windows - I cut up my husband's old undershirts into pieces and use these.  They are perfect - no lint.  I also use them to wipe down the bathroom, etc...


If you get the newspaper, they are great to clean windows with.

Offline healthybratt

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2008, 04:16:45 AM »
we use alot.  Hubby prefers them, so we have them for him, and messy jobs like others have mentioned.  But my biggest use is cleaning windows.  We live in summer type weather almost year round, and literally have floor to ceiling windows and sliding glass doors throughout our house- half of most rooms (except two bedrooms, bathrooms and laundry room) are windows..  I wash windows of two rooms each week to try and keep presentable.  I use paper towels and always wonder what else would work well?  We don't get hte paper, so that's out.  What do ya'll do to clean windows?
I would use paper towels for this.  ;D  But I don't do windows.  However, you can use a rag to get the smudge and gook off and then use newspaper to get the smudges out (if you have newspaper around).  You can also use a squeegee and use a good cotton towel to catch the drips and smudges.
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Offline SarahLaRae

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2008, 05:05:09 AM »
We just use cloth.  It hasn't ever been because of environmental issues, but because we've never felt like we could spare the $ to buy it.   We could afford it now but we are pretty used to just cloth so why change it now!  ;D

Offline littlemama24

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2008, 05:28:47 AM »
We use a LOT of cut up tee shirts etc. as rags.  We'd rather have the "expense" of a whole extra load of rags than to throw that many papertowels away.  We feel it is a good $ saver and a good reuse of the t-shirts.  I keep them in a bucket (dry) under the kitchen sink.  Even the 2 y/o knows where they are and how to get one and clean up his own messes.  They usually just get tossed into the laundry after that unless they are really wet and then I wring them out and airdry them a bit first.  We o a lot of laundry here anyway with cloth diapering and 3 little boys and daddy in construction.  We have a well though so we don't pay directly for the H2O, just the electricity for the pump.  I use mostly my homemade vineagar cleaner so I don't mind it in the wash.  For the few times every few months that I use bleach to clean the bathroom floor, I will use a paper towel just to spare the septic system of the bleach (and the wash).  Even doing all this though - we still go through paper towels more than I'd like.

Offline ladyhen

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2008, 05:35:17 AM »
We usually use cloth.  Dh was a painting contractor for many years, 5 children in cloth diapers, and my sisters always pitied me and gave me their old towels when they change color schemes.   ;D  -that's when we changed our color schemes, too-   8)  I think I get the better end of that  deal!

So, it just seemed that there was always plenty of rags to go around and our kitchen towels hardly ever last the day as hand towels before they are used to wipe up the floor.  I have towels that are designated 'special' that the children aren't allowed to use so that I something to put around a casserole that is going to a church supper.  

DH got sick of cloth napkins, though, and wants to use paper napkins at the table.  He's not picky about much and is so easy to please.  
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Offline amy3js

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2008, 06:49:58 AM »
For the windows- I use a hemmed piece of flannel. Works great!

And someone else (I think sarah?) mentioned that they just do the regular towels to save money and that is really our reason too. Although the side effect of producing less garbage is a nice one.  ;)
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Offline tynnille

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #21 on: March 07, 2008, 07:52:09 AM »
     At our house we use cloth for just about everything. I make napkins using homespun fabric so all you have to do is seam the outside since the fabric is the same on both sides. Plus they hide stains fairly well. I make these for presents too, inexpensive and pretty easy to make and everyone is very grateful.
      I have also used thick muslin for the bigger, guest napkins. So we have a basket or napkin holder at each table to hold the napkins. I just make them the size that will fold up nice to fit the basket. If they are in the middle of the table, you can't miss them. We have about 30 homespun and 18 muslin, so we hardly run out.
         We wash a small load once a week outside of our once a week laundry day. A tip for keeping them from smelling, I just put them in the wash and fill for a small laod and add some baking soda, vinegar, or soap until I have enough, then increase water level if need be, then wash. This keeps away the stinks I think. But just remember to keep the lid open or else it will run before you are ready.
       For my cast iron I just use the same rag over and over. By now I don't even need to add extra oil. Just wipe and hang.
     My MIL, who lives upstairs, has paper towels, but the trek to get them is very unusual. There is always an abundance of rags/towels in the lanudry room that are for dusting, spills, pee, dog puke, etc. We use toilet paper for potty training #2 accidents.
     We love cloth. We cannot see the sense in spending money on paper. So we have an abundace of dishes (buy the box dishes at Target when on sale with 8 place settings and plastic, washable picinic type plates for BBQs) and cloth napkins. You can also find silverware and dishes at second hand stores and such to increase supply. Guests try to insist on convincing us to get paper, but they just don't get the extra inconvience and money to do that. Everyone at our bible study is used to it now though.
      So homespun, muslin, cheap dishes, and washer machine ready with water and soap makes our home almost paperless...except for in the bathroom. I don't think I will be giving the TP up anytime soon!!

Offline crystaldew

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #22 on: March 07, 2008, 11:20:39 AM »
i have been really considering going to cloth for some time now and you ladies have given me the encouragement to do it! i am severely addicted to my paper towels but hate the thought of the $ and chemicals in them and the fact that they end up in the dump. (i won't compost them because of the chemicals.) we use cloth napkins for company, but that's about it. i am going to get started cutting up some old shirts,etc. any suggestions for really absorbent soakers? my dish cloths in the kitchen are just some cheap dollar store hand towels but don't really soak up a spilled glass of water for instance. thanks!
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Offline ladyhen

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #23 on: March 07, 2008, 11:33:00 AM »
For good absorbancy, I prefer either cotton terrycloth, cotton & linen blend, or linen towels.  I do not use fabric softener, but I have heard that it interferes with the fabrics ability to absorb. 

Remember that cloth does not absorb as quickly as paper towels.  What I find most effective to do, in the case of a spilled glass, is to surround the spill with a towel or towels and slowly move the towel in as it soaks up the spill.  For small spills, just toss a towel on top and let it soak in. 

If your budget keeps you from buying some towels, try yard sales and thrift stores. 

hth
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Offline 4myhoonie

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2008, 11:38:19 AM »
we use alot.  Hubby prefers them, so we have them for him, and messy jobs like others have mentioned.  But my biggest use is cleaning windows.  We live in summer type weather almost year round, and literally have floor to ceiling windows and sliding glass doors throught our house- half of most rooms (except two bedrooms, bathrooms and laundry room) are windows..  I wash windows of two rooms each week to try and keep presentable.  I use papertowels and always wonder what else would work well?  We don't get hte paper, so that's out.  What do ya'll do to clean windows?

for windows, anything without lint works good.  those towels our grandmother's used, that are just plain cotton (they used to print a calendar on them).  i have some i bought at Aldi, and then later realized they were made in China!   ::)  they must have no more room over there for anything, with all that making stuff.  anyway, i think they would work great for windows with vinegar water. 
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Offline lotsagirls

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #25 on: March 07, 2008, 12:28:33 PM »
We use a lot of paper towels.  But that's cuz that's what dh prefers.  He uses them to clean his glasses and wipe anything that needs wiping (including noses :o),
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Offline Maria/NHM

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #26 on: March 07, 2008, 01:18:29 PM »
I never bought paper towels until we moved into our fifthwheel. Now since I rarely have running water in the winter, we use about two rolls a week. I use less in the Summer but DH likes me to have some on hand. they do seem to be a terrible waste of money :-\
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Offline Roehrmomma

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #27 on: March 07, 2008, 03:09:33 PM »
We get a few rolls along with paper plates from grandma when she comes to visit. I never remember that we have them so generally she just adds to the stack. :-\  What I have been the last while been doing while is easy meals like pb sandwiches on a towel with some fruit. Or a grilled cheese and carrot sticks. Next to no dishes.( or cooking)      ::) 

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Offline herbalmom

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #28 on: March 07, 2008, 04:26:22 PM »
This was part of a post I put on chat but it's actually about this subject:

When everyone in this house really gets going we go through a roll of paper towels every day, sometimes more.  >:( ::) Talk about expensive, it really adds up. A year or 2 ago I ended up buying a bunch of bar mop towels from Wal-Mart & they paid for themselves very quickly. I had to buy something with a color stripe on them so DH & the kids would know which ones were for cleaning- otherwise they use the good body washcloths & towels for major messes.  :P The whole idea of ragged towels for cleaning rags just doesn't work around here. Somehow most of my cleaning towels got lost in our move so we are back to using way too many paper towels. I have GOT to go get more cleaning towels. I have been meaning to get to WM & get more for weeks now (probably more like 3 months) but haven't made it yet.  ::) ::) ::)

Offline healthybratt

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Re: Do you use paper towels or cloth?
« Reply #29 on: March 09, 2008, 06:38:20 AM »
i have been really considering going to cloth for some time now and you ladies have given me the encouragement to do it! i am severely addicted to my paper towels but hate the thought of the $ and chemicals in them and the fact that they end up in the dump. (i won't compost them because of the chemicals.) we use cloth napkins for company, but that's about it. i am going to get started cutting up some old shirts,etc. any suggestions for really absorbent soakers? my dish cloths in the kitchen are just some cheap dollar store hand towels but don't really soak up a spilled glass of water for instance. thanks!
Don't know if you know this, but a wet rag will absorb faster than a dry one.  ;D  HTH
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