Unpaper Towels Challenge: Good For the Earth and Your Budget

The Unpaper Towel Challenge | Reduce Reuse Recycle | Earth Steward | Zero Waste | Frugal

I was recently wandering the spacious aisles of Sam’s Club, and I noticed a lovely white bundle of kitchen towels. It struck me that this $13 bundle of fluff was the answer to my recently contemplated question. I had just been thinking about “unpaper” towels, and how I should perhaps give them a shot. I use quite a few rolls of paper towels in a month (but not as many as my mother) and I knew that if I switched to something reusable it would not only save me money, but be good for the environment, so win-win. This was a bit of a challenge to give myself though, because, let’s face it, I do love paper towels. I wasn’t sure how likely I would be to go for the reusable version instead of the disposable one.

If I was going to succeed at all though, I knew my unpaper towels would have to be two things:

1) hair free [unlike microfiber, which attracts hair like a magnet]

2) easy to use and reuse

The towels at Sam’s are 86% cotton and 14% polyester, so I knew they wouldn’t be a hair magnet. Check. If you don’t have a Sam’s Club membership, you can find some almost identical to mine right here on amazon for the same value.The Unpaper Towel Challenge

The Unpaper Towel ChallengeI then went in search of a bin to place under my sink for easy disposal of the dirty ones. I found the ideal size at Target. I chose plastic because it will not rust with damp towels sitting in it for days.

The first time I used my bundle of towels I rolled them into a roll, but after that I decided that was a little too much work to do each time I washed them. So the next time I just stacked them neatly, one on top of the other, and slid them inside a rectangular vase I just happened to have. I am just pulling them from the back/top of the cascading stack. I’ll be sure to update if I land on a better method but for now I’m sticking with this.

You can certainly go to Etsy or elsewhere and buy a fancy roll of unpaper towels, sewn by a crafty person with way more time and energy then I will ever have to direct toward cleaning products. The Etsy type have snaps, and cute fabrics, but they cost about 4 times more than what I paid at Sam’s Club so at that point it doesn’t seem like much of a money saver. A roll of 12 towels on Etsy is about $55 dollars! I bought 24 towels and only paid $13.

Experience the Difference

You should join me and challenge yourself to use unpaper towels! I am surprised to find that I actually prefer the reusable towels now! If you are still hesitant to make the leap, here are a few more reasons I am loving them:

  • They are super absorbent and stretch about 4 times farther than a single paper towel does cleaning up a mess.
  • They can be rinsed, wrung out, and used several times before they need to be tossed in the wash pile
  • They can be bleached and washed in hot water, so they are sterilized and fresh
  • They can be used as rags when they become too stained for the kitchen
  • They can be replaced at a reasonable cost
  • Using these will save me a minimum of $200 a year

This doesn’t mean I have banished paper towels from my house entirely. I keep those around for some jobs, like cleaning the bathroom. I am of the unshakeable opinion that toilet germs and diaper contents are just not things that should see the inside of your wash machine.

Are you up for the challenge and the savings!?


I’ve been tracking my paper towel usage, and it took me 18 weeks to use 15 rolls of paper towels. That means I used less than one roll a week! That’s pretty darn good considering I have two incredibly messy toddlers.

Also, I don’t even bother stacking them now. I just toss them all in a cute wire bin on my counter top.

More Paper-Towel Saving Tips:

Before you throw away or donate old clothing, sheets, socks, or bath towels, use them!

I cut old sheets and towels into small rags.

I cut t-shirts into rags also.

Socks are perfect for dusting.

Some things may go straight into the trash (like underwear with holes) and aren’t really suitable as a rag, but I still get ONE clean out of those items. I just wash it one last time, and then dust or clean that sticky spot off the living room floor or wipe down the dreaded couch crevices. Then I just toss it in the trash and feel great that I put it to good use, right down to the final day.

My best (most absorbent and sturdy) rags get washed and reused again and again. I already mentioned my germaphobia when it comes to washing things, so let me be clear here. I do a special load of ONLY rags, and I bleach the heck out of them!

More Ways to Reduce & Reuse

I have loved making the switch from dryer sheets to re-usable dryer balls! You can also drop essentials oils into these wool balls. The wool absorbs the oil and gives a nice scent to your clothing. These balls are easy to toss in each load and actually help reduce drying time.

The Unpaper Towel Challenge


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  1. might have to take this up. I use to do this when we lived Up North. It was really effective. I also had a similar method.

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