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Paper Towel Alternatives in Your Home & Kitchen

From modern products like microfiber to tried and true cotton towels, here are some simple solutions that will save you money plus thousands of trees and millions of pounds of landfill waste.

One of the most popular and versatile solutions are Microfiber Cloths, the perfect paper towel alternative. Whether it’s mopping spills, polishing or dusting, microfiber cloths are up to the task. Slightly dampening them only enhances their ability to grab dirt and germs from surfaces. They’re easy to rinse as well when they become too dirty to finish a chore. Need to put a shine on the silverware – look for the polishing microfiber option. Launder and reuse time and again.

paper towel alternative

Insider’s tip: When laundering, don’t mix microfiber towels with other items. And don’t use fabric softener, it decreases absorbency.

Flour Sack Towels

Flour Sack Towels, also known as tea towels, are 100% cotton and highly absorbent for their size. They also dry quickly when left to hang. Lint-free, and available in a rainbow of colours and sizes, they were a staple in every kitchen before the widespread use of paper towels.

Terry Cloth Towels

Terry cloth towels, also known as bath towels, hand towels, and all their variations, are another excellent paper towel alternative. Another product that has virtually unlimited uses when it comes to cleaning, polishing, mopping, and drying. Available in soft and fluffy or more business-like finishes, they’re long-lasting and a relatively inexpensive investment considering their versatility.

Unpaper Towels

Unpaper towels are a flannel cotton product that can be rolled like a paper towel. But unlike their paper kin, they can be washed and reused time and again. Highly absorbent and versatile, they can be pricy, so shop around before purchasing.


Sponges are another kitchen staple from decades back, serving as a paper towel alternative. Available in man-made or natural versions, be aware that they are quite different in texture and usage. While the rest of the items on this list can be washed with your laundry, cleaning a man-made sponge requires a different technique. There are three options to disinfect or remove a musty odor. Microwave – saturate in water and heat on high for one minute. In the dishwasher, on a regular cycle, be sure to use the hot dry. Perhaps the most eco-friendly method, soak in full-strength vinegar for five minutes, followed by a thorough rinse.

Chambray Napkins

Chambray napkins are a linen/cotton blend that is highly absorbent. Highly versatile, too - with designs and styles that can be used on Sunday dinner table settings, or cleaning up after a BBQ. Chambray can be pricy, but with care can be long-lasting.

Huck Towels

Huck towels, also known as surgical towels, are another sturdy, cotton product. Looking for a lint-free option, Huck towels should be high on your list.

Other considerations for specialized uses:

  • cotton kitchen cloths – another sturdy cotton product, use for handwashing washing dishes

  • newspaper – when used with a vinegar spray, leaves a streak-free shine on mirrors or glass

  • old diapers – super absorbent for mopping up messes

  • Beeswax Food Wraps – a reusable and sustainable alternative to covering food with paper towels

  • Linen Bread Bags – keeps bread fresher than covering with paper towels

Linen Cocktail Napkins – dresses up any beverage, and as absorbent as paper towels.

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