Paper towels are very handy to clean up spills and little messes, but is there an easy-to-use, money-saving, "green" alternative? Yes! Sew your own "no-paper" paper towels! We go through so many paper towels, and at no less than $1 per roll (more for better quality) , it adds up. All to be thrown in the trash...?! Here's how to create no-paper towels for free!
I've seen "no-paper" towels, often called "the unpaper towel" online, and most of them have snaps so you can fasten them together and roll them around a paper towel holder.
My thoughts about "unpaper" towels with snaps and the roll...
- Cute... but expensive. There are pretty adorable fabrics out there, sewed perfectly, and you can buy them online (on Etsy, etc...)! But why spend $40+ for 12 super cute paper towels when you can make 40, 60, 100+ towels for next to nothing?!
- Paper towels that are "cute"...? They are meant to get dirty, so why spend too much time, money, and energy on them?
- Paper towels are meant to be easy and quick to use...unsnapping a towel from a roll when needed isn't nearly as "quick" as you'd think!
- It is easy enough to throw no-paper towels in the wash, but who wants to take the time to snap them together and roll them around a roll when they are clean. That doesn't seem "quick"!
- Fancy snaps? Those seem more costly than necessary.
Here's what I did...
Use fabrics around the house, sew them together, and hang them on a hook next to the sink for easy access. You could also place a basket behind or next to the sink and pull towels out of it when needed (if you don't want to sew button holes). Don't want to sew towels with a backing like I did, just cut towels and fold over the edges and use a zigzag stitch to prevent fraying.
Here's how I made mine:
Step 1: Gather material for paper towels
I used lots of different materials, whatever I had around the house. You can also find very cheap fabric, towels, or baby blankets at thrift stores. One side is meant for cleaning, the other side is more for decoration and to provide a little extra absorbency and thickness.
Materials for the FRONT (side you see when hanging/in basket):
- Cotton fabric remnants (thrift stores often have fabric for CHEAP!)
- Cotton fabric with a baby print (to distinguish baby towels from everyday use towels)
- Jersey knit fabric from old sheets or pillowcases (more absorbant than cotton fabric!)
- Old cotton or flannel sheets or pillowcases
Materials for the BACK (side you clean with):
- Old bath towels
- Old hand towels
- Old washcloths
- Beach towels
- Golf towels
- Baby towels
- Flannel or cotton baby blankets
Step 2: Lay the good sides together and cut towels to the size of a normal half-sheet paper towel. It is OK if they aren't the same size! Forget about making these perfect, they're to clean up messes!
Step 3: Sew around the edge with good sides facing inward. Leave a 2-inch hole to flip the towel inside out.
Step 4: Flip inside out
Step 5: Sew a seam around the edge making sure to fold in the hole inward and sew it up. Don't worry about sewing a perfect seam around the edges! I got pretty lazy after a while. My corners turned into curves and my stitches didn't stay a consistent distance from the edge. They're still functional! :)
Step 6: Sew a button hole on one end and use a seam ripper to open the hole. If you've never done a button hole, this is the PERFECT project to try it out on! I messed up so many holes trying to perfect them on my no-paper towels! No big deal!
Step 7: Hang a 3M Command hook next to your sink and hang paper towels for quick access!
Do you have kids?! Create 2 sets of no-paper towels. We have one set that has baby animal prints on one side so we know those are the ones to use on baby hands and faces! The other set can be used on the counters and floor. Don't worry, we have a laundry basket specifically for soiled no-paper towels, dish towels, cloth napkins and socks (those things that get pretty dirty around here). We wash them with Tide and use the heavy soil settings and warm water.
Make lots! If you don't expect to throw your no-paper towels in the wash every day, you need to make lots of towels. The benefit of a paper towel is having it on hand when you need it! For a while (probably to my husband's dismay!), I only had 2 dozen (maybe a few more), and since I don't do the soiled wash every day, we had days where we'd be scrounging around for a towel because they were all dirty! Now, I have at least 4 or 5 dozen, and a couple dozen baby-friendly no-paper towels. Makes a HUGE difference to have more!
Hope this helps you save money and the environment!