How I kicked our paper towel addiciton (& you can too)

I used to pride myself on being a pretty conservative user of paper products. I’ve always served meals on ceramic plates, used cloth napkins, and drank from glasses.

Until I had 2 boys.

Suddenly I became a paper towel addict, buying massive reams of them at the local Costco. I used them for everything from dabbing spit-up out of my clothes to wiping off grimy hands and faces smeared with spaghetti sauce. I used them as napkins. I used them as place mats. I kept a roll in the playroom, in the bathroom, and in the nursery. At the height of my addiction, I probably ran through about 6 rolls a week.

Like I said, I have boys. They like their mess.

And I like my clean.

I always felt a little pang of guilt whenever I’d have to go refill my stash with another giant pack of 24. I knew my reckless use of these little pieces of paper was ultimately harming the environment – and by proxy the two beautiful boys I was working so hard to save from dirt and grime.

Deep down I knew I had to find an alternative. But like a true addict, I couldn’t stop using, even though I really wanted to.

A little over a year ago, I finally decided to go cold turkey. I’ve made it stick with only minor hiccups.

How to Make It Work

Buy a LOT of cloth towels.
You will never want a situation where you need a clean towel but don’t have one on hand. I ordered two sets of 26 cloth “BirdE” towels on Etsy and that has served me well. Yes, they are more expensive than paper towels bought in bulk. But when you spread the cost out over months and years, it’s much cheaper.

Designate a spot for them in a drawer near the kitchen sink.
Trust me, you aren’t going to want to have to reach far

Keep two or three towels in rotation at one time.
I designate one towel for cleaning surfaces – like counters, stove top, and booster seats. I keep a second one for cleaning up spills and a third for wiping faces and hands. I installed 3 hooks on the inside of my kitchen cabinet and hang them all there.

Toss towels in the laundry after 2-3 days.
This keeps them from getting stinky. I just toss the dirty ones on top of my washer so that the next time I do a load, I throw them in. You probably could microwave a sopping wet towel for 30 seconds to a minute to kill the smelly bacteria, but it’s easier for me to just rotate through a set of three ever two days.

Are you a paper towel addict too? Do you think you could go cold turkey? If you have already, what worked for you?

{feature image: BirdE Towels on Etsy}