Making the switch from disposable diapers to cloth (see my complete cloth diapering guide here) a few years ago was like learning how to ride a bike – not easy at first, but it became easy once we got the hang of it. Then, the ball kept rolling and before I knew it, I'd thrown in cloth baby wipes, toilet cloth and cloth napkins so it just made sense to finish out the cloth revolution and stop buying paper towels! By the time it got to cloth towels, there was no transition at all because we were already so used to using cloth and not paper products.
I knew I had to come up with a method that was pretty and easy to access and dispose of the towels or the new system would never catch on for my family. Here's how I did it – without any sewing!
I was already using all my old towels for kitchen rags (to clean up messy spills and such) but they just aren't pretty and I didn't want them displayed on my countertop. I keep them in a kitchen drawer so they are easily accessible, and rinse out the goo after cleaning, then hang them up on the trash can to dry.
So, I decided to buy what I needed, but wanted something used both for the cost savings and to be green. So, I bought three receiving blankets from the Salvation Army for $1.99 each.
If you'd rather not buy, but upcycle something you already have, jersey cotton will not fray and is absorbant and can be found in:
- Old cotton undershirts and t-shirts
- Old jersey knit bed sheets
If you buy or use cloths that will fray, like flannel, cotton or terry, you'll either need to sew the edges (by god, who has time for that?) or do it the easy way and cut them with pinking shears. Now, they will still fray at the beginning, but then it will stop after a few washes and you can cut off the extra strings then.
I used the pinking shears to cut my cloth into the same size as paper towels, about 6 by 8 inches.
To store my pretty new cloth towels, I decorated an old oatmeal container with yarn (otherwise known as yarn bombing!). If you'd like to try this yourself, read all about it here. I didn't spend a dime to do this and the colors match my kitchen perfectly.
Then, I keep a small trash can in the kitchen where I throw all our cloth products and wash them about once a week – rags, napkins and towels. It is important for the towels and rags to dry before throwing them in the trash, otherwise mildew will set in and it is nearly impossible to get out without a lot of work (even with lemon juice and sunshine, it sometimes still doesn't come out!). So, I hang the towels over the side of the trash can to dry, and it takes a few hours.
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