9 Reusable Paper Towels Helping You Ditch The Disposables
Trying to cook up a zero waste kitchen?
It’s time to ditch your disposable kitchen towel in favor of reusable paper towels.
While single-use habits can be hard to break, learning to replace paper towels with cloth ones is one simple swap that can soak up a lot of waste.
Like lots of outdated recipes that have a number of bad ingredients, paper towel “ingredients” consist of virgin tree materials.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 emissions, plastic wrap, and their single-use contribution to landfill waste, and you have an enormous impact.
Most of which is avoidable if you opt for reusable alternatives.
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The Best Reusable Paper Towels To Wipe Away Waste
Give traditional paper towels the boot and brighten up your kitchen with the compostable Swedish dishcloths from Papaya in a variety of fun designs.
Juniperseed Mercantile, on the other hand, keeps it clean and simple with unbleached organic cotton reusable paper towels.
Unroll to the end to learn how we wiped up this list of the best unpaper towels without wiping out the trees (or watch our video below for the highlights).
The Full List Of Reusable Alternatives To Paper Towels
- Papaya Reusables | Visit Store
- Marley’s Monsters | Visit Store
- ZWS Essentials | Visit Store
- Ecologie By Danica | Visit Store
- If You Care | Visit Store
- Juniper Seed Mercantile | Visit Store
- Etsy | Visit Store
1. Papaya Reusables
About Papaya Reusable Paper Towels
Swedish dishcloths are all the zero waste cleaning rage—and Papaya fuels the fire with their colorful collection of Swedish dishcloths.
What are Swedish dishcloths?
Somewhere in between a sponge and a rag, these cloth-like paper towels are highly absorbent and last long enough to replace about 17 rolls of regular paper towels.
Made from a 100% biodegradable mixture of wood pulp cellulose and cotton, Papaya towels absorb up to 15 times their own weight.
Being easy to wash (by hand or machine) and quick-drying, bacteria is less likely to grow.
When they do wear out, they’re compostable.
No surprise the average Papaya reusable paper towels review is 4.97/5.
About Papaya Reusables
Papaya Reusables calls washable paper towels “the soon-to-be kitchen staple in every household in America”.
That’s why these quirky and fun-named wipes are all they specialize in. In doing so, they hope to make sustainability accessible to everyone.
If you’re a small, eco-friendly shop, they offer wholesale partnerships as well as subscribe and save options for anyone.
Also available on Papaya Canada
2. Marley’s Monsters
About Marley’s Monsters’ Washable Paper Towels
Marley’s Monsters’ motto is “Live Colorfully, Tread Lightly” and their UNpaper® Towels help with that.
Marley’s Monsters’ 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, as well as an option to order the whole reusable paper towel roll and holder all in one.
Otherwise, they’ll fit on almost any traditional paper towel holder.
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, eco-friendly 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.
Also available on EarthHero
Marley’s Monsters has featured in our articles on zero waste toilet paper and eco-friendly baby wipes.
3. ZWS Essentials
About ZWS Essentials’ Paper Towel Replacement
If pretty vintage designs are what you want from your reusable kitchen towels, we’ll spill the beans on ZWS Essentials.
Another Swedish dishcloth option, these cotton and cellulose pads absorb up to 3/4 cups of liquid—and then just wring them out and use again!
If cared for properly (washed and hung to air dry), you can continue using these reusable towels for cleaning for 6-12 months or 200 washes.
Buy sets or individual sheets as you need or save a little extra money AND paper towel waste with a subscription.
About ZWS Essentials
ZWS Essentials is the name of the in-house product line made by online zero waste store ZeroWasteStore.com.
As you might infer, they offer a massive selection of zero and low waste living goodies in just about any category you can think of—from pets to a wedding registry service.
Any personal care and cleaning products are natural, organic, cruelty-free, palm oil-free, and mostly vegan, and everything comes in reusable or compostable packaging.
ZeroWasteStore.com is a member of 1% for the Planet and ships carbon-neutral.
4. Ecologie By Danica
About Ecologie By Danica’s Replacement For Paper Towels
Ecologie by Danica aims to replace paper towels and add some fun to your post dinner clean-up with a cute collection of printed Swedish dishcloths.
Like the others on this list, these 70% cellulose and 30% cotton cloths absorb a phenomenal amount of liquid, helping you do everything from doing dishes to washing your car.
Once it’s their turn to be cleaned, they’re fully machine washable and dishwasher safe (on the top rack). Ve sure to air dry).
About Ecologie By Danica
Ecologie is a smaller subset of the home decor company Danica—which explains why their not-paper towels look like a piece of decor themselves.
Few things are more Scandinavian than the combination of fashion and function, which is why these Swedish dishcloths are actually made in Sweden.
They also offer other eco-friendly products to clean beeswax wraps, rolls, and bowl covers.
A portion of profits go to Education Without Borders, to provide educational opportunities and facilities to disadvantaged communities.
5. If You Care
About If You Care’s Washable Paper Towels
From a distance, the reusable paper towel from If You Care looks like traditional paper towels. On closer inspection, you’ll find something quite different.
If You Care reusable paper towels are actually 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 GMO-free products, including Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)l and Biodegradable Products Institute.
Their paper packaging is both recycled and recyclable. For Earth Month, If You Care partners with One Tree Planted to plant a tree for every purchase.
Also available on Ethical Superstore (UK)
6. 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, meaning these are 100% plastic-free paper towels.
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.
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 substitute for your conscious cleaning needs—including reusable paper towels made in the USA.
Etsy 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. They’re sold in sets of 12 and can be stored on any reusable paper towel roll dispenser.
- 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 to prevent fraying.
Etsy Reusable Paper Towels Canada:
- Cheeks Ahoy Handmade’s 100% cotton flannel sets are soft enough to be used anywhere, even as reusable hand towels and face towels. They come in pre-rolled sets on a reusable Kraft cardboard tube.
- La Girafe Couture sells one-ply and two-ply 100% cotton reusable paper towels in a selection of fun and colorful prints.
Etsy 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. They also sell scrubbies and plastic free “unsponges” for cleaning up tougher messes.
- Ginger Green Co also offers reusable paper towels with snaps to store on a roll. Each sheet has a soft cotton front and extra absorptive cotton toweling back.
Etsy 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 fabric paper towels made from 100% cotton with either TENCEL™ or cotton thread, so they’re fully compostable. They’re sold in sets of six or twelve.
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How To Use & Care For Eco Friendly Paper Towels
First, are reusable cloths safe?
Absolutely–as long as you’re taking the proper care to wash and dry them so that no mold or bacteria can build up within the fibers.
This is also the best way to make them last longer. Switching to an eco-friendly product doesn’t mean much if we don’t try to extend its life.
Here is our guide for using and making each reusable paper towel last longer.
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 recommendations.
Unless the clean-up was very messy, a quick hand wash, rinse, and ring is all you need to do.
Then be sure to deep clean by machine (if suggested) on a weekly basis.
Then hang to dry, dry flat, or prop in the dish rack to prevent shrinking and premature pilling.
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 long do reusable paper towels last?
If all the above steps are taken, how many times can you use reusable paper towels?
That depends on the type of paper towel and the sort of jobs you’re using it for.
Those only used as dish towels will likely last much longer than one used for dirty jobs like washing a car or pairing with your eco-friendly mop.
Thick cotton cloths are the most durable and easy to wash.
Cellulose paper towel replacement (AKA Swedish dishcloths) are typically quoted to last anywhere from 6-12 months—depending on frequency of use.
ZWS Essentials says theirs should last for 200 washes, which should easily put it around the year mark, even if you’re washing regularly.
Why Choose Reusable Towels Instead Of Paper Towels?
The United States loves their single-use paper towels—so much so that their usage far exceeds that of the rest of the world.
In 2017 (before people were washing their hands more fervently), global spending on disposable paper towels for use at home amounted to $12 billion, of which America accounted for $5.7 billion alone.
According to the EPA, America’s combined totals for all “tissue” waste (including tissues, paper towels, and toilet paper) amounted to a whopping 7.4 billion pounds.
If that’s not a reason to use eco-friendly toilet paper and a reusable paper towel, we don’t know what is.
Now remember, what are regular paper towels made out of?
That’s right: trees.
That means that every time your tired morning eyes miss your mug of coffee with your sustainable milk alternative, you’re contributing to deforestation.
At worst, that means contributing to illegal logging and biodiversity loss.
At best—meaning you’re choosing paper towels from sources with sustainable forestry certifications—you’re still taking away necessary carbon sequesters.
Not only that, but turning tree pulp into something soft and absorbing is a water and chemical-intensive process.
While a reusable paper towel alternative obviously still has an impact, you’re getting countless uses (and fewer raw materials) in exchange for that impact—instead of a measly one.
How We Chose The Best Reusable Paper Towels
While you can compost a paper towel, opting for a reusable alternative will always be more eco-friendly. However, there are a few considerations to be aware of before giving the green seal.
The best fabric for reusable paper towels are those that absorb the most liquid, which is why cotton (ideally organic cotton) and wood pulp cellulose are popular options.
We tried to ensure the latter came from responsibly managed forests.
While we didn’t include any bamboo reusable paper towels on this list, that’s another absorbent material that can also be home composted at its eventual end-of-life. Just be sure it’s responsibly-sourced bamboo fabric.
Supply chain & green business practices:
The best unpaper towels are also made via ethical manufacturing by brands that demonstrate a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint through practices like supporting carbon offset programs and using compostable or recycled packaging (especially important considering you can’t recycle paper towels themselves).
Final Thoughts On The Best Reusable Paper Towels
Do reusable paper towels really work?
They do, in just about every way they’re meant to and more. Switching to reusable towels is a simple yet effective way to cut down on waste in your zero waste bathroom, kitchen, and everything in between.
We know, it can be hard to kick single-use habits, so pat yourself on the back for each eco-switch you make. If you just can’t get passed this old habit then opt for recycled paper towels as your next best option.
But remember, the best reusable paper towel replacement is something you already own, so consider learning how to make reusable paper towels, DIY style.
You can easily repurpose scrap fabric or old clothes made of absorbent fabrics like cotton into some DIY paper towels without sewing—taking out two wasteful birds with one reusable stone.
Overheard anyone asking, “What can I use for reusable paper towels?”
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.