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Hey, there!

Welcome to Road 142 where I, Cara Crowley, a stylist and content creator chat and share about fresh + easy ideas for everyday life while exploring the backroads and farms of my beloved Northern California. I’m so happy you’re here!

How My Kitchen Became Paper Towel-Less

How My Kitchen Became Paper Towel-Less


A few years ago, I ditched paper towels in my kitchen 99% of the time. I do keep a roll under the sink for things like patting meat dry but I don’t use them often. At first, it seemed super intimidating to stop using paper towels but I put a few household systems into place and it’s now surprisingly easy to do and maintain weekly. Here’s my system:

  1. Buy a basket or bin that looks pretty that you can keep on your counter or on an open shelf in your kitchen

  2. Stock up on towels or thick napkins that are absorbent, good quality and visually appealing. You are going to be using them all the time and they’ll be out on the counter. I find I’m more likely to use something if it looks good. I use these Sur la Table linen napkins currently but I’ve used these dish clothes from Williams-Sonoma a lot in the past as well. I love the size, they aren’t as bulky as a hand towel and they are super absorbent. Buy enough for a weeks worth of use or however long you go between doing laundry. I mostly wash my hand towels every 3-4 days but I have enough to last a week-ish, so if I get busy I won’t run out. I’m much more likely to stick to something if I’ve made it easy on myself.

  3. Keep a plastic tub by your washer for you to throw soiled towels in after you’ve used them. I find having a designated place vs letting them pile up on the floor next to the wash makes it so much easier. When I’m ready to do a load of kitchen towels, I can just dump the bin right into the wash, add detergents and wash them in hot water to really get them sanitized.

  4. Use the towels in place of your usual paper towels. Simple as that.

This has been a very easy swap in my house. It’s been so nice to cut down my waste and I also don’t have to go to the store just for paper towels and storing them. I also did this when my nephews stayed with me a lot and they loved it, too. My oldest nephew would love to wash the towels when the dirty bin was overflowing and then they would both fold them. So it’s completely do able to make the swap in all households, including those with kids.

A couple of tips: I don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets, at all, but specifically not on towels. It makes them less absorbant. I also find that in the summer if I put them on the clothes line, they are more absorbent as well but since I don’t always have the time for that, I was them in super hot water and throw them in the dryer with wool dryer balls like these. The wool balls reduce static, if there is any, but also cuts down the amount of time needed to dry towels.

Cost: There is an initial investment, both options I’ve linked are a little spendy. However, I’ve tried a lot of towels over the years and both of these options really do hold up to the wear and tear and I’d rather pay a little extra up front and get more life out of it. Both of the options I’ve linked do go on good sales from time to time so I usually just stock up when they go on sale.

Common Question: Won’t the cloth towels get stained? Yes, they will. That’s something that you have to be ok with. While mine do get worn and stained, it’s really not as bad as you’d think. My theory is because they’re being washed over and over, all the time, the stains get lifted up at some point. I use the towels as long as I can and then when they get really worn, I just replenish them. Usually every two years or so.

If you make the switch, let me know how it goes either here in the comments or over on Instagram!

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