If there’s a special place in hell for people who overuse paper towels, I’ve belonged there since the birth of my first child in 2007. Every time I chose the easy way to wipe his chair high or his sticky hands, I figured I’d somehow make it up to you later when I was done with the education stage.
But my addiction got worse as my family grew. I was so addicted to the paper towel that in addition to using it to clean up puddles and dirt – and cleaning the coffee table and bathroom mirrors – I took it to dry myself afterwards. washing my hands or even wiping water (water!) off the counter. Even when I had a tea towel right in front of me. I’m not a freak – I only buy the more economical and eco-friendly Bounty brand rolls – but I knew I had a problem, and I felt guilty for wasting it.
When the pandemic caused shortages, we drastically reduced our paper towel consumption. I regretted it a lot, but I got used to the dishcloths (and a little more detergent). When paper towels could be easily found again, I felt my bad habits resurface, so instead of becoming a waster again, I saw an opportunity to change. Before the pandemic, I had noticed among friends, rolls of“reusable paper towel”. I knew it wasn’t the right solution for me—more laundry detergent—but when I spotted a Swedish tea towel in a store last winter that promised to replace about 15 rolls on its own paper towel, I bought it straight away.
A life-changing find
You find yourself in the same situation as me a few months ago, and you don’t know the Swedish tea towel? So imagine someone took a very thin yoga mat and cut it into 6.5×8 centimeter pieces, and you could use that magic rectangle as a paper towel, sponge, or dishcloth for about six months. Afterwards, you can get rid of it by composting it or throwing it away. Do you see the concept? Probably not. You have to have one to understand.
Basically, it’s stiff when dry, but softens quickly when wet. For example, you can use it to wipe down pots and pans you just washed, then set it aside to dry before using it again. You can also do the dishes with it, like a sponge – the fabric becomes instantly malleable when wet. Then you just have to wring it out, and you can use it again.
Best of all? When your tea towel is dirty – if your kids have spilled marinara sauce on the table – there’s no need to rinse it or wring it out to put it in the laundry basket, where it might get moldy if you take a long time to clean up. take care of the laundry. Put it directly in the dishwasher, it will come out clean and disinfected (still damp, I specify; it will have to be left to dry a little).
You might be wondering what I have against a good old plain tea towel, which would surely be the solution to my needs, to wipe a pot or my hands. You might think I should just resolve to do more laundry and move on. The thing is, I never get to know when the dishcloths are clean, and I always wonder if one of my kids has used them to wipe up water (or worse) on the floor. With Swedish tea towels, it’s simple: I put it to wash every night and the next day, I’m sure they’re not full of germs. I have since bought more to always have some on hand.
Better for the planet, and for the wallet
By dint of cleaning surfaces with these cloths, which we do very often, I am proud to say that today we only use a third of the quantity of paper towels that we used before. . I felt guilty every time I caught one; now I know I’m better off turning to those dishcloths first—which doesn’t stop me from using the paper towel when needed.
Not only are we doing something for the planet, but we are also saving! A Swedish tea towel, whose lifespan can be estimated at six months, costs $6 (about €5), while for the same period, my paper towel addiction was costing me more than $170 (€140 ). Another bonus if like me you like to put a little eccentricity in your home: you will find tea towels with cool patterns, like mermaids or owls.
I’m glad I’ve kicked my paper towel obsession for good, and I love living in a guilt-free kitchen—at least when it comes to cleaning. If by chance you come across a magic product that could replace fifteen packets of crisps with just one, please contact me.