Paper towels have a host of uses at home, from cleaning up nasty spills on the table, drying dishes or clearing up after your pets: Cleaning up messes in the house is something we have to contend with daily. That being said, as practical as single-use paper towels are, they are without a doubt pretty harsh to the environment, plus they get expensive and accumulate over time.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, paper and cardboard waste make up the largest percentage of landfills. That goes back to a large portion of the 3.5 to 7 billion trees cut down globally every year for consumer goods. The need to reduce our household's carbon footprint cannot be emphasized enough.
What are the alternatives to the traditional paper towel roll? Some people lean towards rags, but these have to be washed after every use and are also known to host bacteria. Instead, we recommend reusable paper towels to help reduce landfill accumulation, counter deforestation and ultimately save you money in the long term. We've rounded up the best reusable paper towels so that you have a good place to start "green living" in your kitchen and minimize your personal impact on the environment.
What are Reusable Paper Towels?
Reusable paper towels are pretty similar to their conventional counterparts, the only difference being they're made from fabric and sustainable materials such as bamboo and cotton. They are super strong, and most options are compostable and biodegradable. The best part is, you can use such a paper towel over and over again, where all you need is to rinse and hang them out to dry between uses.
Types of Reusable Paper Towels
Reusable paper towel alternatives come in several options:
a). Bamboo & Cotton "Paper" Towels
Bamboo is an incredible, more sustainable-than-paper alternative, only taking three months to grow back after harvesting, whereas trees take at least 20 years. Bamboo paper towels are made of strong, absorbent bamboo fibers. These tree-free paper towels are usually reusable for up to a week.
Cotton "paper" towels are just like the conventional cotton kitchen towels, but they are made from recycled or existing scrap fabrics. They are designed to be more biodegradable, less durable, and therefore more disposable. Cotton towels also last significantly longer than traditional or reusable paper towels.
b). Microfiber Towels
These are arguably the go-to alternatives for many messes, thanks to their exceptional absorbency. They remove dirt, grease and a host of germs by grasping onto them with their microscopic hooks and only releasing them when rinsed and wrung with water. Microfiber towels are machine washable and dryer safe, but they are not disposable.
c). Cellulose Dishcloths
These are made from straight-up cellulose or a blend of cellulose and cotton. Cellulose dish towels are the best of both worlds: Highly absorbent like sponges, as super strong as cotton "paper" towels and convenient and biodegradable like reusable paper towels. Plus, these soft kitchen cloths are washing machine-, dishwasher- and microwave-safe.
Are reusable paper towels good?