Unpaper Towels: Make Your Own Eco-Friendly, Reusable Cleaning Cloths

by allysonrosenbloom

Absorbent, reusable & cheap!
I use unpaper towels almost exclusively at home now. I say “almost” because we have a dog who loves to eat sticks, grass and squeakers,  so we keep a regular roll around for this situation. I don’t think I’ll ever reach that level of eco-friendliness that I’ll opt to wash rags with dog vomit on them. No thank you.

But honestly, being “green” with my cleaning may have been the initial reason I wanted to try out unpaper towels but I stuck with it and replaced them completely because I love the way they work and how easy it is! They are absorbant, tough and clean really well. I also love not having to buy a huge pack of paper towels at the market. More room in the cart and less to carry.

While you are at it, you will want to make a kitchen wet bag to have a place to toss your cloths in until you are ready for laundry day.

Now you can buy these in various places for ridiculous prices but it is really simple to make them yourself. The key is finding the right fabric that is thin yet absorbent. I have found that birdseye cotton is the ideal fabric for your unpaper towels but others would work too. Birdseye cotton has a bumpy almost waffle weave and was used for classic cloth diapers – the kind your great grandmother probably used on her babies.

unpaper towels
I have experimented with using one or two layers of birdseye and I’ve found that I like just one layer in a double size of 12″ x 24″. Most people will try to replicate the size of a single sheet of a paper towel (roughly 12″ by 12″) but when is the last time you used just one single square? I’d suggest making them a little longer so you can fold for messy spills.

For edging, you can use a serger if you have one like I did or a simple zigzag stitch will keep the edges tidy too.

If you are unable to find birdseye cotton, cotton flannel can also be used. But really, you can find them here on Amazon, so you don’t have an excuse. But if still choose not to use this material, it won’t be quite as absorbent or thin but it will do the trick! If you don’t mind thickness, cotton terrycloth is also wonderfully absorbent and you could just use several extra rags for your towels.

eco friendly paper towels
I use these cotton non-paper towels with my homemade all purpose cleaner as well as for all counter spills. I’m a sloppy cook, so these things get used all the time.  Floors, counter tops, you name it!

It took a bit of time to get used to using them for messes, especially when they were so fresh and new! My husband would spill coffee and not want to “stain” them for example, so we had to remind ourselves that that is what they were for! I’ve found that they don’t actually stain much, that the messes wash out really well (not that it matters) and especially since you’ll probably rinse them before tossing them in the wash pile.
Any you? Share your eco-friendly cleaning tips, products and handmades here!


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