I’ll Never Buy Paper Towels Again Now That I’ve Tried These $20 Dishwasher-Safe Alternatives

updated Aug 30, 2022
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One of the surprising things about staying at home all the time is that I’ve changed how I think about the things I use every day. Suddenly, mundane items that don’t serve me seem more annoying than ever — and, in turn, I’m more inspired to find alternatives or solutions for them. Spoiler alert: I’ve since stuck with one of my most impactful changes yet and — bonus! — they’re on sale ahead of Labor Day weekend, so you can finally try them out for a bargain!

That ugly bunch of cords on the corner of the floor? I finally figured out a way to hide them. The junk drawer? Organized. The kitchen spice cabinet? Made over. But when my fiancée and I finally ran out of paper towels about 30 days into our stay-at-home order, ordering a more sustainable set of reusable paper towels on Amazon was done more out of necessity than anything else. We couldn’t find traditional paper towels stocked anywhere online, and we figured the reusable options (made of cellulose) would be a placeholder until they were restocked. And honestly? I was skeptical. 

I’m all for making small, more sustainable swaps in your everyday life, but giving up paper towels forever didn’t seem like a possibility to me. I figured that sustainable alternatives not only wouldn’t work as well for cleanups and everyday use, but that it’d also be annoying to be washing them so often. Sure, this particular set of reusable paper towels was shockingly well-reviewed, and sure, they were conveniently dishwasher- and washing-machine-safe, but again … I was skeptical.

When they arrived in the mail, I was even more skeptical. The towels are stiff when dry (they feel sort of like flexible pieces of cardboard), and only become more towel-like when you wet them. Right away, I thought: Well, this works for now, but we’ll be going back to paper towels ASAP.

After a few days, though, I found myself actually liking them. The “towels” come in various colors, which allowed us to designate certain colors for cleaning countertops and messes, and others for using as napkins. Plus, throwing them in the dishwasher with dirty dishes after a meal made cleanup easy. Once we got into the habit of doing it, I wasn’t even thinking about the extra step anymore.

There was also something satisfying about knowing that I would potentially not have to replace any of them for months (the brand claims that each 10-pack they sell eliminates up to 150 rolls of paper towels). No more running to the store in a panic, and we’d never again find ourselves wondering what to do if paper towels were out of stock at the store. My only criticism of them, if I had to name one, is that they don’t cling to dirt or crumbs as well as a traditional paper towel does, but all in all, they do the trick for just about everything around my home.

At first, figuring out how to store them in a way that was sanitary and easy to access was a bit tricky — especially because they are usually pretty damp after coming out of the dishwasher — but I started using a letter organizer by our sink to store them as they dried. It worked perfectly to keep them tidy and still at arm’s reach. (Conveniently, my repurpose also helped me make our counter less of a clutter magnet — turns out, when there’s no easy place to stash junk mail, you don’t keep junk mail around at all!)

It’s been more than two months since we’ve been using reusable paper towels and I don’t see us going back to traditional paper towels anytime soon. Plus, the simple swap has inspired me to find other ways to make tiny, more sustainable changes in our home going forward. So, stock up on them on sale ahead of Labor Day weekend so you can green up your cleaning routine this fall!

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This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it here: I’ll Never Go Back to Paper Towels After Trying These $20 Dishwasher-Safe Alternatives