How to Make Reusable Paper Towels and My Favorite Sustainable Daily Use Items
After sharing about my DIY reusable paper towels on my Instagram stories last week, many of you asked if I could write up a short post with all the details. So here we are!
Over the years I’ve switched from many single-use items to reusable items in my home. Not only have I found this move to be more cost-effective in the long run, it’s also been a conscious effort to do a tiny part in saving our planet and putting less waste out there. Because man, it’s wild how much we throw away when you stop to think about it!
After doing a quick search I found there were a couple of reusable paper towels out there. Some had tiny snaps (like those on baby onesies) on them so you could snap them tougher and store them in a roll on a paper towel holder. This method seemed way too tedious for me. With the amount of cleanup I do, I didn’t see myself spending time to put them back on a roll each day.
Others said they use Swedish dishcloths—which I already use and adore! I’ve been using these square cloths made of plant cellulose for years. And while I love them for cleaning up countertops and sticky dinner tables, they aren’t very soft until they are wet making them not so idea for other paper towel uses like wiping June’s face off, drying hands, or drying produce.
When I went to make these cloths I ended up using 100% cotton birds eye cloth, which is the material commonly used for cloth diapers. You could also use bamboo fabric or any preferred natural cloth. You just want something that is adorbant and has a little texture.
How to Make Reusable Paper Towels
birds eye cotton cloth
3 yards will make 16 – 11″ x 11″ two-ply cloths
serger + 4 thread cones in any color
sewing machine + white thread
button-hole foot for sewing machine
Wash and dry the cloth exactly as you intend to launder them after they are sewn. I prefer to wash all my towels in hot water and tumble dry them on low so that’s how I pre-washed the fabric before sewing.
Fold the birds eye cloth in half with the selvedges together. Use a rotary cutter and ruler to cut the fabric into 11″ wide pieces. A rotary cutter isn’t required to make these but it will make the job go so much quicker and make your towels perfectly square.
Once you’ve cut the entire length of fabric (I cut 3 yards) into 11″ pieces, take each piece and cut that into 11″ x 11″ squares. If using 36″ wide cloth, you’ll get 3 per piece and basically just be trimming of the selvedges.
Stack two pieces of 11″ x 11″ fabric together with the wrong sides together. Then use a serger to finish the edges all the way around. Trim the threads at the end.
Using white thread (or a contrasting thread if you prefer) and the button-hole foot on your sewing machine, sew a 13mm button hole on each towel. This can be positioned at a diagonal, in one corner, as I did or in the center towards the top of one side. Whichever you prefer.
If you want to hang your towels in the kitchen for easy access, I recommend using a 3M Commad Hook since they are removable (which is perfect I’ve you’re renting like I am). If you want something more permanent, I’m sure you can go with a pretty hook that matches your kitchen hardware or even a single peg hook.
Cut the button holes open using your preferred method; I use the Fiskars button hole blade on the craft knife then add a little Fray-Check to the buttonhole threads to secure them. This will help them hold up after tons of washing.
Eco-friendly, reusable items been using and love
Here are a few of my tried and true reusable items that I made the switch to (some a few years ago) that I think you might enjoy too.
I started using Thinx three years ago and haven’t looked back! These things are magic and I so wish they existed when I was a teen. They now make some styles and the high-waisted ones are even a little sexy (which makes me feel amazing when I’m bloated and having painful cramps). On heavy days I use them in combination with a Saalt silicone menstrual cup.
After trying another type of stiff plastic reusable bag and some velcro ones, Stasher bags are my favorite. The snack ones are perfect for toting around fruit for June and I like the half gallon size for freezing bread. They can also be used to cook things sous-vide, but I haven’t tried that yet.
I used some of my favorite woven cotton fabric to make reusable cloth napkins about 6 months ago and haven’t looked back. I simply cut the fabric into large squares (18″ x 18″) and hemmed all four sides by folding the fabric in 1/4″, pressing it, and folding 1/4″ again and sewing all the way around. So easy and I love how they instantly make any meal look a little styled, even if we’re just eating leftovers or tacos for the millionth time.
Been using these packable grocery bags for years and I swear by them. I keep 3 in my driver side door so they are always handy when I’m running errands. They fold up into a little pouch for easy storage and they are machine washable. 10/10!
When I was pregnant I craved ice coffee all the time. And now, two years later, and the craving stuck! I’ve probably only had a few cups of hot coffee in the last few years. I bought a Corkcicle Tumbler to keep my cold brew iced all day because sometimes mom-life means you don’t drink your coffee right after you make it. And I’m happy to report that it’s been so perfect for that! Having a set of stainless steel straws in the house are handy too and so much better to use than paper ones that dissolve in your mouth. Yuck!
What reusable products have you switched to? And which ones are you loving? I’d love to know!