9 Best Reusable Paper Towels Kicking Single-Use Cleaning Habits
Single-use habits are easy to break.
Said no-one ever.
Thankfully, reusable paper towels are an easy eco friendly swap that you can use to soak up a lot of waste.
Paper towels are most often made of virgin tree materials. If you consider the number of paper towels used globally, that equates to a lot of cut trees for the sake of spills.
Add in the manufacturing and shipping emissions and their single-use contribution to landfill waste, and you have an enormous impact.
Much of which is avoidable if you opt for eco friendly paper towel alternatives.
Give traditional paper towels the boot and brighten up your kitchen with Swedish dishcloths in a variety of fun designs.
Juniperseed Mercantile offers reusable paper towels made from unbleached organic cotton.
For compostable paper towels made from 100% FSC-certified recycled paper, Reel’s are a more sustainable single-use paper towel solution.
Unroll to the end to find out how we wiped up this list of the best eco friendly paper towels without wiping out the trees.
*This post contains affiliate links
1. SWEDISH DISHCLOTH / SPONGE CLOTH
About Swedish Dishcloth Reusable Paper Towels
Swedish dishcloths are all the zero waste cleaning rage.
Made from a 100% biodegradable mixture of wood pulp cellulose and cotton, they can absorb up to 15 times their own weight.
Being easy to wash (by hand or machine) and quick to dry, bacteria is less likely to grow, reducing smelly dishcloths.
One Swedish dishcloth can replace approximately 117 rolls of paper towels and when they do wear out, they’re compostable.
No surprise then that Swedish dishcloth owners are all outspoken advocates. The average review (out of thousands) for the colorful Papaya Reusable paper towels is 4.97/5.
If sustainable subscription services are your thing, opt for Grove reusable paper towels which also take the form of Swedish dishcloths.
Available: Papaya Reusables | Ten and Co | Ecologie
2. MARLEY’S MONSTERS
About Marley’s Monsters’ Reusable Paper Towels
Marley’s Monsters’ motto is “Live Colorfully, Tread Lightly” and their UNpaper® Towels help with that.
Marley’s reusable paper towels are made from 100% cotton flannel that gets more absorbent over time and can be used on any paper towel roll due to the flannel’s ability to cling together.
Each single ply cloth is 12” x 10” and they’re available in packs of six or twelve. Rainbow, grays, white, and lemon prints are available.
About Marley’s Monsters
Women-owned Marley’s Monsters is a one-stop-shop for eco home essentials like toilet paper, bath and beauty products, baby wipes, and more.
Their fabric and wooden products are handmade in Eugene, Oregon where they also have a brick-and-mortar store.
They’re a BRING Rethink certified company for their waste-reducing practices and products are packaged and shipped plastic free.
Available: ZeroWasteStore | EarthHero
3. JUNIPERSEED MERCANTILE
About Juniper Seed Mercantile’s Reusable Paper Towels
Juniper Seed Mercantile’s reusable cloth paper towels are made from 100% unbleached organic cotton that’s resilient and highly absorbent.
Each 6-pack is wrapped with compostable paper.
About Juniperseed Mercantile
Juniperseed Mercantile products are handmade in small batches, in Littleton, Colorado.
They’re all about “Down to Earth Decadence” and they use natural and (where possible) organic ingredients in their beauty, home, and skincare products.
All products are palm oil free, cruelty free and some are vegan friendly, too.
To reduce plastic waste, they package in glass, aluminum, and compostable tubes. They also offer refills for beauty and personal care products at their Littleton storefront.
If you’re local, stay tuned for community events and educational skill-based workshops.
4. IF YOU CARE
About If You Care Reusable Paper Towels
If You Care reusable paper towels look like traditional paper towels—from a distance. On closer inspection, you’ll find something quite different.
They’re made from a blend of cellulose, non-GMO unbleached cotton, and natural mineral salt.
Each 2.65” by 9.5” sheet can absorb up to 16 times its weight in water, lasts for about a week of regular use, and can then be tossed in your home indoor compost bin.
There are 12 sheets per roll and one roll replaces ~18 rolls of conventional paper towels.
About If You Care
If You Care started with a single product: unbleached coffee filters, the first in North America.
Unbleached baking paper and baking cups followed and today they offer a range of eco kitchen and household products made with natural or recycled materials and vegetable-based dyes.
They use a number of certifications for their products including Forest Stewardship Council and Biodegradable Products Institute.
Products are also GMO-free and not tested on animals.
Their paper packaging is both recycled and recyclable.
For Earth Month, If You Care partners with One Tree Planted to plant one tree for every purchase.
Available: Food52 | Ethical Superstore (UK)
5. FULL CIRCLE HOME
About Full Circle’s Reusable Paper Towels
Full Circle’s reusable bamboo paper towels keep it completely tree-free by using 100% biodegradable bamboo rayon, though we’re not certain if it’s produced in a closed-loop system.
Each Tough Sheet can be washed, dried, and reused many times before being composted.
The bamboo fabric is quick to dry and the sheets are designed to fit on any regular paper towel holder.
About Full Circle
Certified B Corp, Full Circle Home offers a range of responsibly produced eco accessories.
The recycled plastic they use in many products and packaging is certified by Global Recycling Standard.
They aim to eliminate plastic from their packaging by the end of this year and for all the plastic they use to be 100% recycled by 2025.
In the meantime, they’ve gone plastic neutral by partnering with the Plastic Bank to remove the same amount of plastic from the oceans that they use in their products.
Full Circle also partners with The Carbon Fund to offset carbon along their entire supply chain.
For those hoping their spill habits can also support small businesses, turn to Etsy.
With tons of sellers to choose from, you’re sure to find the right paper towel alternatives for your conscious cleaning needs.
Reusable Paper Towels USA:
- generation Me offers handmade reusable cloth paper towels made from 100% cotton including an organic, unbleached cotton option and rainbow colors. Both one-ply and two-ply are available.
- Cozy Simple Living has plenty of different prints to choose from. Their cotton reusable paper towels are sold in sets of 12 and can be stored on any paper towel roll holder.
- Gina’s Soft Cloth Shop’s stacks of reusable cloth paper towels are made from 100% cotton. You can choose your preferred color of thread for the serged edging.
Reusable Paper Towels Canada:
- Cheeks Ahoy Handmade Unpaper Towels sets feature 100% cotton flannel in pre-rolled sets that come on a reusable kraft cardboard tube.
- La Girafe Couture sells one-ply and two-ply 100% cotton reusable cloth paper towels in a selection of fun and colorful prints.
Reusable Paper Towels UK:
- Earth Kind Creations has reusable cloth paper towels made from cotton with optional fastenings so that they can be poppered together on a roll.
- Ginger Green Co also offers eco friendly paper towels that snap together to be stored on a roll. Each sheet has a soft cotton front and extra absorptive cotton toweling back.
Reusable Paper Towels Australia:
- Eco Lovely Designs’ reusable cloth paper towels come in a choice of beautiful prints. Made from 100% cotton flannelette, they cling together to be stored on a roll.
- The Green Jelly Fish Company offers printed reusable paper towels made from 100% cotton with either Tencel or cotton thread so as to be compostable. They’re sold in sets of six or twelve.
Eco Friendly Disposable Paper Towels
7. WHO GIVES A CRAP
About Who Gives A Crap’s Eco Friendly Paper Towels
Who Gives A Crap’s single-use paper towels are made out of bamboo and bagasse, a by-product of the sugarcane industry.
The 22.8cm x 22.5cm rolls are slightly shorter than your average roll of paper towel but it helps the company to standardize shipping boxes and keep consumer costs low.
Each double-length roll has 120 biodegradable sheets made without inks, dyes, or scents.
They’re individually wrapped in colorful paper (that can be composted or reused for crafts and zero waste gift wrapping) and shipped carbon neutral.
About Who Gives A Crap
The Certified B Corp proves they really do give a crap by donating 50% of profits to charity partners that work to provide clean water and sanitation services to communities without.
Their toilet paper subscription service ensures you never run out of bum wiping material whilst helping fund vital sanitation work.
Their products are responsibly made in China by manufacturers that meet their ethical criteria.
We interviewed co-founder Simon Griffiths on our podcast and found out first hand about this inspiring social enterprise.
Available: Who Gives A Crap
About Reel’s Eco Friendly Paper Towels
Reel’s eco friendly paper towels are made from 100% FSC-certified recycled paper with a minimum of 80% post-consumer fiber.
They can be purchased in boxes of 12 and on a subscription basis.
The two-ply biodegradable and compostable sheets are 100% plastic free with no inks or dyes.
Reel is on a mission to protect forests and help ensure everyone has access to clean toilets.
No virgin tree fibers or plastic packaging are used in their bamboo toilet paper or their recycled paper towels.
All shipping is carbon neutral.
They’ve partnered with SOIL, a non-profit research and development organization providing ecological sanitation services in Haiti.
They build toilets and they remove old waste and turn it into compost for reforestation and regenerative farming efforts.
Reel has featured in our article about eco friendly toilet paper
9. SEVENTH GENERATION
About Seventh Generation’s Eco Friendly Paper Towels
Seventh Generation’s biodegradable paper towels are made from 100% recycled paper made with a minimum of 50% post-consumer content.
These recycled paper towels are made in Quebec, Canada out of materials recycled in the US.
They’re whitened without the use of chlorine bleach and don’t contain dyes or fragrances.
The plastic packaging film they use is 100% recyclable and is currently made from 50% recycled plastic.
About Seventh Generation
Certified B Corp Seventh Generation believes that we have “a responsibility to this generation and the next seven”.
They offer a range of cleaning products including laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent made of renewable plant-based ingredients.
They have a range of other zero plastic products that come in reusable and recyclable steel canisters and the brand is committed to becoming a zero waste company by 2025.
Seventh Generation has also partnered with the global reuse platform LOOP to eliminate single-use packaging and their recyclable packaging is made using recycled materials.
Read more about the brand’s sustainability endeavors in their impact report.
Available: Grove Collaborative | Amazon
10. DIY REUSABLE PAPER TOWELS
Seeing all those reusable cloth paper towel options, you might be wondering how to make reusable paper towels yourself.
Almost any old fabric can be repurposed into reusable paper towels. The more absorbent it is the better and natural fibers like cotton are best for this.
So if you’ve been wondering what to do with old clothes, this serves the dual purpose of repurposing those, and towels, and sheets, which all make for some of the best eco friendly paper towels.
If you need a reusable paper towels DIY tutorial, this article has step-by-step instructions including a no-sew option.
More advanced crafters might want to check out this video tutorial for a “snap roll” of reusable paper towels that join together.
How To Use & Care For Eco Friendly Paper Towels
As with all things related to low waste living, longevity is the biggest marker of sustainability. Switching to an eco friendly product doesn’t mean much if we don’t try to extend its life.
Here are some tips for using and making eco friendly reusable paper towels last longer.
How many reusable paper towels do I need?
It’s a good idea to have plenty of reusable paper towels so you always have a clean, dry one to hand when you need it.
How to store reusable paper towels
Some reusable paper towels come with a loop for hanging so you can store them on a hook somewhere handy. This is also helpful for air-drying in between uses.
Others are designed to either cling or fasten together with poppers so that they can be stored on a roll in the same way as conventional paper towels.
Either way, once they’ve been used, be sure to hang or lay them somewhere well-ventilated to prevent mold, mildew, and odors.
Drying in the sun will do this as well as help keep your reusable paper towels stain-free.
How to wash reusable paper towels
Check the manufacturer’s instructions but in general, handwashing, laundry machine washing, or putting in the dishwasher are the usual go-tos.
Unless the clean-up was very messy, a quick hand wash, rinse, and ring is all you need to do.
Then be sure to do a more thorough machine wash (if suggested) on a weekly basis.
Are paper towels compostable?
Compostable paper towels rock the top of the sustainability charts for the best reusable paper towels.
Check the brand info as to whether their reusable paper towels can be safely composted at home at the end of their useful life.
100% organic cotton fabric that is unbleached and undyed is safe to compost, but be sure to also pay attention to the thread. Unless the manufacturer specifies the thread is also cotton (or something else compostable such as lyocell), remove the thread as it’s likely to be polyester.
If you’ve made DIY reusable paper towels, check the labels on the material you’ve repurposed.
If you use single use eco friendly paper towels, check the label or brand website to see if they can be home composted and then go ahead and add them to your compost heap.
How We Chose The Best Eco Friendly Paper Towels
If you’re looking for an eco friendly replacement for paper towels, there are a few considerations to be aware of depending on what style you prefer.
Reusable Paper Towels
Opting for reusable towels instead of paper towels is step 1 but the best reusable paper towels go further.
Materials matter. Organic cotton, responsibly sourced bamboo fabric, hemp, linen, and other natural sustainable fabrics are ideal choices for the environment given their compostability.
A number of reusable paper towel alternatives are made out of a cellulose blend made from wood pulp. This should be responsibly sourced and ideally FSC-certified to prove it came from sustainably managed forests.
Beyond materials, look for sustainable paper towel brands that use ethical manufacturing and demonstrate a commitment to reducing their ecological footprint through practices like supporting carbon offset programs, using sustainable packaging and becoming a Certified B Corp.
Single Use Eco Friendly Paper Towels
If you’re looking for eco friendly disposable paper towels, those that use recycled materials are key and the best recycled paper towels are made from a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content.
If they also happen to be compostable paper towels, that’s ideal.
At a minimum look for biodegradable paper towels when buying single-use, but remember that biodegradable and compostable are not the same thing and you likely can’t put these in a compost bin unless they are explicitly labeled as compostable.
Final Thoughts On Eco Friendly & Reusable Paper Towels
Switching to reusable towels is a simple yet effective way to cut down on waste and reduce your carbon footprint.
We know, it can be hard to kick single-use habits, so pat yourself on the back for each eco switch you make. Every small change collectively adds up to an enormous impact.
We’d roll head over heels with happiness if you shared this article with your sustainable buddies and spread the word about reducing paper towel waste.