During the course my day-to-day cleaning, I rely mainly on reusable options like microfiber cloths and my own homemade cleaning solutions. But the COVID-19 pandemic has been a reminder to me that both reusable and disposable items have important roles to play when it come to cleaning.
For instance, it’s smart to use paper towels, disposable gloves, and other disposable supplies when cleaning up after someone who’s sick and possibly contagious. Paper towels can also come in handy for soaking up liquids that could contain harmful bacteria, like the juice from a package of raw chicken.
But we don’t have to choose between more sustainable reusable cleaning cloths and disposable paper towels. There’s a way to use both responsibly, and it’s simply a matter of using paper towels strategically.
Today’s blog post will help you do just that. These 11 tips make it easy to use paper towels only when you need them most, so that ultimately you’re using fewer paper towels and making each roll of last a lot longer!
11 Easy Ways To Use Fewer Paper Towels
1. Store Them Out Of Sight
If you store your paper towels out on your countertop, you might be tempted to use them more often than strictly necessary simply because they’re available. If you suspect that’s the case, try storing your roll of paper towels in a closed cupboard instead. Keeping them out of sight can make a surprisingly big difference in helping you use fewer paper towels overall.
2. Swap Them Out
As for that empty spot on your countertop where your paper towel holder used to sit, fill it with a small basket of microfiber cleaning cloths. Once those are the most convenient option, you’ll start using them more often.
3. Use Cloth Napkins
Using cloth napkins not only saves paper, but it also makes every meal feel like a special occasion! Next time you set the table for dinner, break out your stack of cloth napkins instead of reaching for paper napkins or paper towels.
And don’t worry about food stains—cloth napkins are harder to stain than you’d think. Just toss them in the wash after dinner and they’ll come out good as new.
4. Save Your Takeout Napkins
In the event that you do find yourself in need of paper napkins someday, save the ones that come with your food when you order takeout. Tuck them away in a drawer somewhere to build up a stash you can dip into when you need them.
5. Do The “Shake And Fold”
When using paper towels to dry your hands, you only need one according to this TEDx talk by Joe Smith, a waste activist from Oregon. He recommends using the “shake and fold” method, which involves shaking the excess water off of your hands, then folding one paper towel in half and using it to wipe off the remaining moisture.
A single layer of paper towel isn’t particularly absorbent, but by shaking off the excess water first and then doubling the thickness of the paper towel, you can achieve perfectly dry hands with just one sheet.
6. Use A Color Code
When switching from paper towels to reusable cleaning cloths, many people struggle with the idea that they’ll be using the same towels to clean the toilet as they will to clean the kitchen (even with the knowledge that the towels will be washed between uses).
Color coding your cleaning cloths is an easy way to avoid this problem. Pick of set of cleaning cloths that includes a variety of colors, then decide which color you want to assign to a specific area or task.
7. Drain Oil, Don’t Absorb It
Do you typically use paper towels to absorb excess oil when cooking bacon or frying chicken? You can save those paper towels by allowing the oil to drain off of your food instead of absorbing it.
All you need is a sheet pan and a cooling rack. Set the rack on the sheet pan, then set your food on the rack so the oil can drain off onto the pan. It’s an easy switch to make, and it’s arguably an even more effective way to get rid of excess oil on your food!
8. Save Your Butter Wrappers
Instead of using a paper towel to grease a baking pan, use butter wrappers instead. The butter that clings to the wrappers is perfect for greasing pans, and it’s a great way to use something you would normally throw away.
So next time you unwrap a stick of butter, place the wrapper in a ziplock bag in your freezer. That way, you’ll always have a few on hand to use for greasing baking pans.
9. Use Baking Soda
If you normally use paper towels to wipe up oily messes, try using baking soda instead. Sprinkle baking soda over the spill, let it sit for a few minutes to absorb the oil, then wipe both the oil and baking soda up with a wet cloth.
10. Carry A Handkerchief
Carrying a cloth napkin or handkerchief with you can really come in handy when you need to wipe your mouth while eating, or to brush dirt off your hands. As long as you don’t share it with anyone, it’s a perfectly sanitary way to save some paper!
If you got a sticky sauce on your face while eating lunch, you can even pour a bit of water on the cloth to help cut through the stickiness.
11. Use Only What You Need
And finally, my last tip for using fewer paper towels is to use only what you need. Even the smallest section of those select-a-size paper towels may end up being larger than you need!
So if you need just a couple of inches of paper towel for a particular task, just rip off a couple of inches! Try this for a couple of weeks, and you’ll amazed at how much longer your paper towel rolls last.
Do you have a tip or trick that helps you use fewer paper towels?