Paper Towels versus Reusable Towels:So how can you save money and the planet? How about switching from using paper disposable towels to reusable cotton ones? Reusable towels gets things cleaner with less effort, require little effort to clean, and cost less to buy than a 12 pack of paper towels if you are doing it right. Need more incentive? Here is some (estimated) math.
A good supply of cotton towels will cost as little as $11.98. These should last at LEAST a few years with just a little laundry time put in. (Pictured is 10 flour sack dish towels at $7.98 (Walmart) and 16 heavier washcloths at $4.00 for 2-8pks (on sale at Target), all 100% cotton.)
Total 2 year cost of paper towels = $272.09 PLUS: approx $156 waste removal
(2 years of paper towels weighing approx 78 lbs, and at $2 a pound (as in Europe, where trash is by the pound) this comes to a whopping $156! In Mesa, AZ, this would be about 4 extra 'black' barrels of trash to be removed, which is a month's worth of trash removal cost, which is much less, but still expensive for trash.)
Total 2 year cost of reusable towels = $11.98 PLUS: approx $36.48 in laundry expense.
(Towels equal an approx. extra load of laundry every month over 2 years, which using hot water/top loader machine/ name brand expensive soap would cost $1.52 a month, or $36.48 over 2 years.)
So - for 2 years of wiping up messes and drying things off, do you want to spend $428.09 or $48.46?
Reusable Towels in Action:
Now, I will always have a few paper towels lying around for that unfortunate bloody/stinky/greasy mess that arises that you just can't bring yourself to clean up with something you will later wipe dishes with. Those messes happen. But the other 99.9% of the time I'm cleaning up with my reusable towels.
For drying needs, the flour sack towels are great on dishes. They also fill in elsewhere in the kitchen: I lay them between the lid and bowl of a salad bowl to keep the lettuce from getting soggy and brown. I use them to wrap up baked goods to keep warm/soft, I lay them out to use as temporary dish drying racks for large items. I use them as pot holders when the oven mitt is too far away. I drape them over the oven rail to use as a finger towel if my hand towels aren't around.
Aside from the towels I just bought, I have been using cloth napkins (a pack of linen napkins I picked up at a thrift shop, 8 pack for $2,00) so no paper towels are used at the table, either.
For storing your reusable goodies, I can show you what I do. I've never been a stickler for a 'perfect' looking house, and prefer practical/easy over pretty/complicated. So I don't mind letting my tools hang out - in this case, I used a wire under-the-shelf bin hung sideways on a cabinet door under the sink. I hang out my vinegar spraybottle, rubber gloves, and the most recent dish towel off the ends and stuff my washclothes and towels inside.
This works great for me, as I use these items constantly throughout the day and don't have to dig under the sink for them, but they aren't on my counters, either. And no one ever asks where the towels are! It may not be the prettiest part of my kitchen, but I value the no muss, no fuss functionality.
The rubberized metal holds damp rags without rusting, it is easily washed up with a = you guessed it!= reusable washcloth, and the mesh design allows air flow to the entire bin allowing rags to dry out without molding/smelliness until you bring it to the laundry to throw in the wash. I just plopped mine down next to my little trash can and I toss in the towels as they get 'less-than-fresh'.