Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How to Replace Paper Towels with Rags

Keep the rags where you would keep paper towels, and then put the paper towels in a less-convenient place or get rid of the paper towels entirely.

Toss rags in with appropriately-colored wash loads; sometimes I quarantine extra-dirty rags with the diapers, or throw out rags used with grease, paint, or the like. I throw rags away without compunction. Every time I turn around, someone is wearing out a piece of clothing around here that I cut up for rags.  I do not fold or iron rags, or even bother to cut them very straight.

rags (and hearing protection!) on the washline

Make sure your family knows where the rags are, especially the children who probably make most of the spills anyway.  Teach them to hang wet rags over the side of the hamper so they don't mildew the other dirty laundry.

Here are the three places I keep rags at my house, all handy to the kitchen and dining room where most spills happen:

1.  In the pull-out just in front of my sink.  I do also keep some scrubbies in there, but this is the first place my kids look for a rag to mop up a spill.  The roll of paper towels is tucked away under the sink and they do have their uses: layering between berries and on plates of fried foods like bacon and fritters.  I also keep a paper towel in my shortening can, for greasing cast iron and baking pans.

2.  In the bathroom cabinet with the bathroom cleaning supplies.  It facilitates cleaning to have the supplies in the room where they are used.  We use newspaper when we clean the mirrors, not paper towels.

3.  The general catch-all for rags in the hallway closet.  After the other two places are supplied, any extra rags go here.  I also keep large rags like old towels and sheets in the back.  I use towels for big spills or to roll up hand-washed sweaters to speed up drying.

Tell me about rags and paper towels at your house.  What's your system?


Jennifer Jo said...

1. No paper towels on the premises.

2. I buy dark, all-cotton, absorbent washcloths/rags in bulk and keep them stacked above the washing machine.

3. Kitchen washcloths are white.

Eva Girl said...

I keep a bucket of rags under the sink in the kitchen, next to the dish soap and scrub brushes. I also have some up with the cleaning supplies in the laundry closet. But, I confess, my husband likes to prepare some of his food (toasted sandwiches) on paper napkins for breakfast, so I keep a roll on the counter anyway...

Naptime Seamstress said...

I keep rags in a drawer next to the kitchen sing; in a drawer next to the downstairs bathroom sink; underneath the sink in the main bathroom.

I do keep a roll of paper towels on the counter, but we soooooo rarely use them! I figure that I buy about 2 rolls of paper towels a year - we can afford that!! But the savings from rags! Oh, my. We save so much by using rags.

BLD in MT said...

We have a pretty small house so all the rags live in an box under the bathroom sink with the cleaning supplies which is quite centrally located. Like you I wash them with like colors, except for the very, very dirty jobs. I have a roll of paper towels that was a partial used roll being cast off by the custodial staff where I work. It lives in the clutter bottom drawer of the kitchen. Matt didn't even know it was there apparently as he was wishing we had some the other day for frying. I told him we DID and where they were. He has no idea.

Zoƫ said...

Similar to yours. I have some paper towels but they live in the back of the cupboard under the sink. My husband is the only one that uses them and even that is becoming less and less as he gets used to my earthy ways :)

I do prefer a real washcloth (tho not a new, puffy one) for cleaning. The clothing rags I use for the nasty cleaning/household jobs or cleaning up dog vomit/pee. Then they go in the trash. Ick.

Sara said...

I keep rags from clothes and old dish towels in a drawer in the kitchen. There's also a roll of paper towels up on a high shelf in a cabinet, used only for things like draining bacon and wiping out cast iron skillets.

I'm curious if you have a preferred type of clothing for rags? Most of mine were men's undershirts in their previous life, and I find them ok, but not perfect for cleaning. I've been trying to decide whether our four-year-old set of prefold diapers are looking worn enough to move to the rag bag yet.

Margo said...

Sara, I only use 100% cotton for rags, whether it's woven or knit. I like t-shirt rags for dusting, but I use thicker rags when I'm scrubbing.

Beth said...

Ah, you don't want to hear about our system, or lack of it...we're still in convenience/survival mode...(think Clorox wipes - a lot of them - AND paper towels)

But I love to read about how you do things. Makes me happy.

Hazel said...

I use rags or old flat nappies (diapers) and stopped buying paper towels a long time ago.
I knew in our house, if they were there they would get used (not by me...) but nobody misses them when they're not!
I use old butter wrappers for greasing cookware- keep them in the fridge- and drain anything very greasy on scrunched up brown paper veg bags.

loves2spin said...

I do have some paper towels, but only use them rarely and the only cleaning I would do with them is, ahem, pet - related. Years ago, I bought a package of 25 microfibre cloths at Sam's Club for about $10. They are so sturdy, I think I'm going to have to put them in my will. I use them for EVERYTHING else, cleaning related. I like your rag idea!

Sarah Barry said...

I love this b/c I love rags. My dad is a physician and he hoards those blue (clean) surgical towels (that would otherwise be thrown away) at the hospital, and he gives them to us for rags.

I use them for everything I would use a paper towel for. Come to think of it, about the only time I use paper towels is when cooking bacon to soak up the bacon grease. And even then I feel like I'm throwing $$ away.

Good idea about saving and cutting up old clothes.

nancy said...

I always cut up our too worn out towels into rags, and sweatshorts, etc. They go into a basket in the garage as well as a few in the kitchen drawer with dish towels and wash cloths....

Margo said...

loves2spin, I love my microfiber cloths and I keep them separate from my rags, mostly for dusting. Maybe I should do a post on them.

Sarah, I never heard of surgical towels (and am horrified that the hospital just throws them away), but I have a few doctor friends that I'm going to query to see if I can get some too!

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