Little Farm in the Big Woods

Easy DIY Non-Paper Towels

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 7:02 PM

About a year ago I made a tentative change to non-paper towels in the kitchen, I just wasn’t sure how much I would like them, or how well they would clean & wash up, but I was willing to try it. Now I keep wondering why we didn’t make the change sooner! They work great, we are saving money, and have reduced the amount of disposables in our house greatly. Win-Win-Win! 

 I have seen different posts about how to cut and hem them, or make them double layers, I’ve even seen ways to sew on snaps so you can snap them together and roll them up just like a roll of paper towels.  Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy sewing, but somehow, spending a bunch of time cutting, hemming, and lining a whole bunch of rags, just isn’t my idea of fun!  My first batch of towels, I simply cut with pinking shears, and that worked pretty well, but they still unravelled a little more after each wash, and it took longer to cut out then it woud have if I could’ve just used my rotary cutter.  After a little thinking, I came up with something even easier, that works even better! Yay!  By tearing the fabric, it helps prevent excessive unraveling, because it tears along the grain of the fabric. Tearing is really quick and easy, and it doesn’t have to be hemmed! ❤️ 

I liked the non-paper towels so much in the kitchen, that now I’ve added them in the bathrooms for cleaning, and the barn for udder washing, and also minor cleaning.  I have also made wet-wipes for when we are going to be out at a park or something where there are no sinks for washing hands.  I used different fabric patterns for each of these uses, so they don’t get mixed up. 😬 If things get desperate in this quarantine situation, they could be handy for all sorts of things that you would usually use paper products for!   😳🚽

So, let’s get started!

First you need some fabric (I like flannel), and some scissors - yes, you do need scissors. 😉

Second, you need to decide what dimensions you want your towels to be.  I make mine 9in x 8.5 in.  That way I can get the most out of my fabric without any waste, and that seems to be just the right size for my cleaning needs.  With these dimensions I can get 20 towels out of 1 yard of fabric.

Start by laying out your fabric, and a ruler. Then using your scissors, just make a 1 inch cut every 9 inches (or whatever measurement you choose) along the length of the fabric. I like to start by tearing off the first and last inch or so, so I’m starting with a nice even line, and even those edges won’t unravel. But that step is optional, and up to you.


Then starting with the cuts you made, tear the fabric into strips.  It should tear in a nice straight line.  After you’ve torn it into strips, lay the strips out, and make 1 inch cuts every 8.5 inches or so, and repeat the tearing process, until you have 8.5 x 9 inch towels.  I would wash them after this, but you could just go ahead and use them now, if you choose. The first time or two that you wash them, they will unravel some, and you will have a significant amount of lint in your dryer’s lint trap, but after that, they won’t unravel much at all!

I keep my non-paper towels in a jar on the kitchen counter (where my paper towels used to be), and in the bathroom I keep them in a drawer.

Now, about washing them….

My “kitchen” non-paper towels, I just wash with my regular laundry.  If they get really messy, I’ll wash them out in the sink first with some dish soap, but usually they don’t really need that.

For the bathroom and barn towels, I have a separate hamper, just for them, and wash them in a load by themselves, in hot water, with bleach.  If you want to start using this for “family cloth” or cloth-TP, wash just like you would cloth diapers. 

*Now, in the interest of full-disclosure, I do keep old-fashioned paper towels on hand, for extreme situations.  If someone gets the stomach flu, or during goat kidding season, there are just some things I would rather throw away!  But now a package of paper towels lasts us a year, instead of a month! 

I hope you find this useful.  Please let me know if you decide to try it, and how they work for you. ❤️