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Paper towels are my mainstay. With four kids seven and under, I am constantly cleaning up messes. I mean, CONSTANTLY. It feels like they are just waiting for me to turn my back so they can knock over yet another glass of water.
I’ve tried to stop using so many paper towels in the past, but when they are sitting right there on the counter just begging to be used? I can’t NOT use them.
I always succumb to the awesomeness of disposables. Is it even possible to go without paper towels with this many little kids? I wanted to find out.
The Paperless Kitchen Experiment
I don’t really know why I picked now to attempt to kick the paper towel habit. Maybe it’s because the paper towels ran out? Maybe I don’t have enough to do? Maybe I needed another challenge besides homeschooling, working from home, and making sure my toddler doesn’t attempt another death-defying climbing act?
Was it money? Nope.
Perhaps it’s because I love cutting costs. However, after I started crunching the numbers, I realized that thanks to Amazon Prime we weren’t going to be saving that much money, not in the short term anyways. At least we weren’t going to see the savings this year, especially with the initial investment in more cloth products. Ten dollars a month, tops! And that’s with going through paper towels like crazy.
The environment? No, sorry.
I wish I could say it was some noble effort – the belief that one family going without paper towels will save the earth somehow. I’m gonna be honest: I don’t even use cloth diapers, people. Right now, saving a couple of trees is just not the highest thing on my priority list (sorry, trees).
Maybe one day.
Challenge? Yes, ma’am!
I seriously needed a challenge, one that could actually be considered “done”. I’m an achiever by nature, and as we all know, in motherhood, you don’t often feel like you’re achieving very much.
Finishing laundry? Never conquered. Teaching manners? Still working on it. Empty sink? Ha!
I really just need something to conquer, something tangible, something I can cross off my list. Check! Achieved! Done!
I’m also genuinely curious. Can it really be done with little kids? How complicated will it be? Maybe it will be simpler than it seems. I want to know, and the only way to know is to try.
And for all of you reading who already do ALL THE GREEN STUFF (cloth diaper, make your own bread, DIY everything you can get your hands on) with energy to spare, I know I sound slightly ridiculous. Cut me some slack – it’s a big change for me.
Side Note: If you do decide to stick with paper towels, stay away from these ones we’ve been using for the past three months. I’ve decided to be a name brand snob when it comes to paper towels (if we ever buy them again). Stick with Bounty: thank me later.
The Prep Work
I knew that if our paperless kitchen experiment was going to be a success, we needed more rags, dish cloths, and paper towel substitutes.
I ordered the following (see, I told you this wasn’t a money-saving operation!):
These dish towels are super absorbent.
I purchased the unbleached version of these paperless towels from Etsy and anticipate using them for general spills and wiping down counters.
I also made rags out of old t-shirts to use when cleaning the bathroom and wiping up other messes – if you’re a mom, you know the kind I’m talking about – that I’d rather my nicer cloths not touch (ever).
I made room in a visible place to store rags and unpaper towels (we use wall baskets like these to store plastic grocery bags and rags).
1) Going cold turkey will highly influence the results.
If the roll isn’t sitting there on the counter, I can’t use it. All in. No back-ups.
2) My husband may question the experiment.
At some point, he might ask why there are no paper towels in the house. But then again, he may not even notice. I’m not sure which is the better outcome here?
3) The kids will easily adjust to the new normal.
Train ’em while they’re young!
4) Staying on top of the laundry may be a challenge.
I need to re-up my laundry game anyways. Good excuse!
5) Storing used, damp rags may be a challenge.
Occasionally, storing wet clothes in laundry baskets caused them to mold. I don’t want the same thing to happen to my rags. Anyone have thoughts?
6) What to do for things like bacon grease?
I typically use paper towels for sopping up bacon grease, wiping peanut butter out of dishes, etc. I’m not sure how
Related Reading: 4 Steps to Fighting Laundry Overwhelm
Here we go.
I’ve got everything ready for the paperless kitchen experiment. What’s next? Cloth diapers? Essential oils? Who knows?!
Stay tuned for the verdict: is it really possible to live without paper towels? (Update: See “Read Next” for the verdict!)
Read Next: Why Every Mom Should Try a Paperless Kitchen
Have YOU transitioned to a paperless kitchen? Tell me how it went in the comments!