Hey y’all, last week on my Instagram Stories I shared how I make reusable paper towels with all the muslin fabric scraps I end up with after making test fit garments for myself. If you’re not sure what I mean by that, check out this post about pants fitting – I made several test fit muslins in that post.
We switched to cloth napkins years ago, and once I realized how easy that was and that it didn’t add much to the laundry, I started looking for other throwaway products in our house to replace. Paper towels were the next thing I spotted, and with my business I go through bolts of muslin from sample garments when I’m developing a new pattern. So the idea for these was born.
I save my garment muslins and then just cut them into scraps, seams and all, and serge two layers around the edges to make these. A vintage cookie jar on my counter holds all our reusable paper towels, and then we can easily grab them as needed instead of going for a paper towel and throwing it away. These get thrown in with my white laundry, and then returned to the cookie jar – no need to snap towels together or fold or anything.
If you’re not a garment sewer, you can also use old bath towels, or even old clothes to make these. I just cut them into squares 12 inches by 12 inches, sometimes piecing scraps to get to that size. Check out the video below or here on YouTube to see more.
That cookie jar! So cute!
Such a smart idea and love your storage for it!
I love that you reuse your muslin! I wouldn’t have thought of that! Great idea, I’m going to try that next time I make some 🙂
That is just an awesome idea, and you know what’s my absolute favorite thing about this? Your storage method! Not even any folding required, and it looks pretty on the counter, too!
re-use, recycle, ??…great idea
What a great idea! Thank you for sharing!
I tried that idea a few years ago. My sister gifted me towels labeled with the days of the week. But it all fell apart when my husband refused to use them! Now, I salvage paper towels he uses and throws away in the recycling bin with very little stain(coffee spoon, things like that). I’ve discovered he uses paper towels to wipe silverware with butter or jam and then throw them in the recycling bin-UGH! He also throws cat food cans in the recycling bin without rinsing them. So I capture them, wash them out and then put them in the recycling bin. I know I’m not alone as my daughter has the same problem with her husband. I caught him throwing egg shells and coffee grounds in the recycling bin. It’s very frustrating for both of us. I’m thinking of asking him to save his coffee grounds and egg shells for the yard, but he isn’t always willing to do that. Any suggestions you have would be appreciated.
I believe that is a man thing and you just have to live with it. My husband does the same thing though he does put egg shells in the garbage. I have a Keirug and a tool that seperates the top to recycle the cup but he doesn’t like to use it as some cups it cuts the filter and the grounds spill. Oh well.
I put a nice bowl next to a coffee machine…that’w where the coffee grinds with paper filter are going. I have the same for eggshells-I only ask he put them there, (with lid). at the end of a day of two-I will dispose of them properly.
What would happen if you stopped buying paper towels? He can’t use any if there aren’t any in the house. Just a thought there.
The easier you make it for him, the easier it will be for him to do it. Put a container beside the coffee maker for the coffee grounds. When that gets established, move on to the eggshells. Baby steps.
I have been using old t shirts as my cleaning towels. I use my serger on the edges( a great way to practice using it).
Here’s how I got my husband excited about putting eggshells, coffee grounds, paper towels, etc. in the right place – I got him a worm farm so he always has healthy worms for the love of his life – fishing! And I get the best compost ever for my gardens.
I have always used dish towels as “paper towels” we air dry dishes so never wipe them dry. I also have made cloth napkins to match the placemats I make. When my bathroom hand towels begin wearing out the go to the “paper towel drawer” in my kitchen. When the towels get holes, they go to the rag bag for my husband to use in the garage or as rags to clean with.
What a great idea! It hadn’t occurred to me that I didn’t need to snap them together!
I was JUST thinking about how I could DIY “paper” towels! Great timing thanks!
I LOVE the cookie jar idea!!! Can’t wait to do this! We already have a stack of rags on the dryer for bigger messes so I know the family will easily adjust to the paper towel concept! Thanks for your great ideas!
I’ve always saved worn out towels, washcloths and hand towels….they’re on a shelf in my laundry room and easily accessible for cleaning, dog bathing/drying, picking up messes, etc. When they get really ratty they’re moved out to the garage/shop for use on cars, motorcycles, tractors, etc. If those need to be thrown away after use, no big deal as the outside rags are generally falling apart anyway. I replaced the paper towels that we once used with flour sack napkins that I made. The trick to getting everyone to use them is to locate them close to where they’re accustomed to the paper towels being located at….and putting the roll of paper towels out of sight! I do still keep a roll of paper towels to use for draining bacon, lol! Pretty napkins for the table can be easily made out of leftover fabric from other projects, cut from the good sections of a worn out garment (a good way to continue enjoying a favorite but no longer wearable item), cut from unfaded sections of faded curtains (with the faded sections put out in the rag bin in the garage/shop). If you use placemats you can make some pretty ones from a worn out bedspread or lightweight comforter by using the outer edges which are usually still in good shape….just add binding to the edges. I’ve also been known to turn a comforter into dog bed covers for our Labrador. I use worn or stained wash rags on my Swifter instead of buying the throw away clothes sold for them. So many uses for things that otherwise have been thrown away!
Thanks for the additional great ideas, Kim! I keep a plastic bin in my garage labeled “Upcycle Items” where I keep many of the items you mentioned. I’ll print out all the ideas from this blog post and stash it in the box.
I do the same with old towels. Great ideas.
We use this kind of system in our washroom, but because we use face-cloth / wash cloth size cloths instead of hand towels by the bathroom sink. We’ve got the clean ones (actually folded though) in a bin there and they each get used once or twice and then thrown into the laundry. If you’re meticulous about hand washing and others in your home are not so meticulous–it feels so good to have clean cloth to dry your hands instead of the normal hand towel size. A person could use your second-use muslin idea for that kind of thing, as well.
I love your idea! Thank you for sharing it. I love your jar to store them in to, very cute. Hugs,
I use old bath/hand towels cut into pieces the same size as disposable floor pads. Just wet them and a steam mop or use a spray of floor cleaner. They work muck better than the disposable pads. Rinse them well and let dry until you have enough rags to launder.
I love this idea!! I like that the towels are all from the same cloth, which makes identifying them effortless, when sorting finished laundry. Another way to make them identifiable at a glance, if using a mix of scrap cloth, would be to hem or serge them all with the same color thread.
I would I would think that even unbleached muslin might not be absorbent straight off the bolt (due to finishes applied by the manufacturer) band a first washing would improve its absorbency. I wonder what the most absorbent kind of cotton or linen cloth might be?
Louise Alise Robinson
What a great way to use up those muslins that you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing out in public. I’m going to do this.
We’ve been eco-conscious for several decades at my house, with a compost pile, early LED light implementer, keep the thermostat down and put on more clothes, etc. But knew there was plenty more to do.
When underseat bidets started becoming available we got one of them and have had them ever since. We also went to Loo-rags for number 1 (we still have toilet paper for guests and number 2).
I haven’t ever purchased paper napkins and I take my cloth napkins to work.
And we switched from regular paper towels to bamboo ones a few years back – they worked well until I found out how eco-good they aren’t. So, I’ve been on the hunt for the best cloth ‘paper’ towels. A darker colored flour sacking works best for us. It’s darker so don’t have to worry about staining. And they’re larger which helps to tackle larger messes. Not to mention they can work as bibs too. And they’re just as easy to make as quilting cotton ones. We still have a couple of real paper towels for the worst messes (like moldy produce in the fridge’s produce drawer) so I’m glad we found a solution.
Thank you for the idea of putting your un-paper towels into a cookie jar…I foresee getting a cookie jar in my future. 🙂