Frugal Tip of the Week: Going Cloth in the Kitchen



Do you think you can have a kitchen without paper napkins, paper towels and sponges? It is entirely possible to run a kitchen without the use of paper products. It’s kind of like going back to the basics like our grandmothers. Paper towels and paper napkins (plates and cups too) have become so much of a modern convenience that people think they cannot live without these products. I am here to tell you, you can, really, you can! Guess what? It will save you money too! No more $1 or more per roll of paper towels…do a little dance!!!

I have never been much of a paper towel user or napkins for that matter. I have always had them, but they were never a necessity for me (as for the napkins…I just always forgot to put them out!). We would go through one of the jumbo packs of paper towels from Costco in a year or so, mostly because my hubby would use them. A few months ago I decided to just go without and see what happens. I have a roll stashed in the pantry, but we haven’t touched it. The key is to keep towels accessible and handy. I have a drawer by the sink full of dish towels (I love the flour sack towels from Sam’s club 12 for $10) and crocheted dish wash cloths. I make sure to use a new towel and dish rag each day so they don’ t get gross or sooner if need be. I make these crocheted scrubbers out of  plastic grocery bags and pop them in the dishwasher to clean. I also have another drawer full of rags for spill cleanups. With a 3 year old, there are always spills. These are accessible to Lance and he knows where to go to get a towel if he has a spill. Great! Less for me to clean up! I have old towels, old burp cloths and baby wash cloths in there that were no longer being used in other parts of the house. I also have a stash of cleaning rags for cleaning. Mostly old towels cut up, but I do have a few microfiber cloths for dusting and mirrors.

As for the napkins, I took several of my leftover sewing fabric, cut them into about 12 inch squares and serged the edges. These are smaller than the standard linen napkins you can buy at the stores, but I find I really like this size better for everyday use. Now, I have enough cloth napkins to last for a week. Lance even has his own with construction trucks and 1960 muscle cars on them. Just have fun with it and you can have ones that match your decor and are great for the seasons or holidays. Watch for clearance fabric and remnants. If you don’t sew, check out the thrift stores or contact me and I can make you some (I just took a serger class on tuesday and can do them much better than the ones I made for me!). I also purchased a napkin holder for my table and leave several out in that, so they are nice and handy. I actually use a napkin with my meals now since I don’t have to remember to put them out! I keep a small basket in my pantry for used napkins. Then on my towel laundry day, I just toss all the kitchen dirty stuff in. I already do a towel load every week, so tossing these in is not increasing my water usage either!

I hardly ever buy paper plates or cups anymore either. If I am having a big party and I don’t have enough of regular plates I usually do. But for the most part, we are regular dishes all the way! Even camping we use regular plates for the most part. If we are dry camping in the motorhome without water hookups we will use more paper than normal, but that’s the only time. We don’t buy bottled water for our camping trips either. We have a 5 gallon igloo water cooler that we fill up before we leave and have a collection of sports bottles that we can fill and put in a cooler. Saves us a ton on purchased bottled water and is better for the environment. Who doesn’t like being a little “green” these days?!?!

 Cloth Tips:

  • change kitchen towels/dish cloth daily or more if needed
  • have enough to last the week plus a few extras if you have kids!
  • make them accessible to everyone so they get used and make sure everyone know where they are
  • dry dish cloth/towel by hanging before placing in dirty hamper, so they don’t get stinky after a week! I just hang mint over my basket overnight and put them in the next day
  • teach kids (and husbands!) where to put dirties when used, preferably somewhere in the kitchen so they actually do it!
  • use what you have, old towels, cut up old t-shirts, old socks turned inside out are great for cleaning and dusting, fabric scraps or cut up old clothes for napkins
  • most of all have fun with it

My napkin holder with my cloth napkins and napkins folded in quarters.










 Head to Frugal Friday for more tips on saving money.


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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. niki
    Mar 12, 2010 @ 07:18:22

    I admire you. I managed to stop using the paper towels in our house. But cloth napkins didn’t go over so well in my house. I just don’t do laundry enough.


  2. Christy @ ContemplativeMom
    Mar 12, 2010 @ 13:22:15

    We have recently been working to go paperless in the kitchen. You have some great pointers. I LOVE the plastic-bag pot scrubbers. I’m going to have to try that! Thanks!


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