Green Tip: Reduce Paper Towels By Using Cloth Rags

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Cloth Rag

Cloth Rag

Lately (perhaps with the Thanksgiving holiday), I’ve been thinking back to when my oldest, now 20, was a baby.  Trying to be as environmentally conscious as possible, we made the decision to use cloth diapers.   While I am now long past the life stage of the cloth versus disposable debate, there is one component of this that remains relevant.  Cloth diapers made awesome rags.

I still remember all of the extra uses—the spilled oatmeal, the pools of baby barf–hey, even stray cat barf.  No paper towel, no matter how deluxe, can wipe up the way cloth can.

This fact was made more apparent by our recent kitchen remodeling.  While our old kitchen had a handy paper towel holder, the new design purposely left this out.  I found that their absence pushed us to save money by using the kitchen sponge for spills and the dish towel for hand wiping, but the occasional mad dash to the basement for “emergency” paper towels was starting to get old.

So I created my own cloth diaper substitute—rags cut from an old torn nightgown.

I had been hanging on to an old Lanz flannel nightgown that I couldn’t quite throw away (though many types of old clothing would work).  They wear like iron and the only reason this was out of commission was that a lace inset had torn.  The cloth had plenty of wear left.

Nightgown Becomes Rags

From Nightgown to Rags

I cut the nightgown into rags and managed to reuse most of it.  Even the sleeves worked once opened up.  The rags are stored with the dish towels and pulled out as needed.  After use, they are tossed down the laundry chute and washed with the clothes (I pre-clean with soap if I’ve used them on something especially germy or that might dye clothes like beets).  I did no hemming and fraying has been manageable.

So I am happy to say this has successfully solved an organizational issue and helped an environmental issue at the same time.  And as a bonus, I think that I have the cutest rags around!

3 Comments

  1. Great idea! I used to watch kids in my home and would (shamefully) go through a roll of paper towels a day with all of the face wiping, floor spill clean-ups, counter wipe downs, etc. I no longer watch kids in my home but still go through way more paper towels than necessary. Thanks for this great tip…I’m going to go make my own non-paper towels now :)

  2. Pingback: Tangled Up in Green: Easiest Fried Eggplant Strips « Art of Natural Living

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