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This was something that put more money in our pockets instantly! We stopped using napkins and paper towels. We were spending at least $5.00 a week just to wipe our mouths and clean our house. Every week, my cart would be loaded with another round of paper products. Every week, I kept thinking "there has got be a better way!" And there is!
For napkins at mealtime, we use cotton cloths that I crochet. You can whip up at least two from a $1.47 ball of cotton yarn at your local chain store. I use my kids' favorite colors so they can use them for an entire day and not get them mixed up before throwing in the wash. Or, simply use a value pack of inexpensive washcloths that can be purchased for a mere $4.00 at Walmart!
As far as paper towel substitutes, I simply cut up our old t-shirts, sweat-pants, etc. They work like a charm for windows, mirrors and bathrooms. Saves the environment, space in my shopping cart, and money in my wallet. I can't believe I didn't do this years ago! :)
Using cloth towels (instead of paper towels) and napkins reduces the amount of paper that goes into the garbage and saves you money. If you buy dark colored cloth they will handle stains better and look good longer. By JulieBeth
One reader added this great advice:
We use cloth tablecloths everyday. I buy busy prints when they are on sale. It saves the table, especially if you have a little one who gets as much on the table as themselves. It is more sanitary than the vinyl ones that you can never get all the food off of.
Growing up, my mom bought inexpensive, busy prints of terry cloth and made table cloths and napkins out of it. For a while we each had different colors so we knew whose was whose.
We only use cloth towels for clean ups and it saves so much and does a better job. Cloth diapers are the best deal ever and my potty trainer uses cloth training pants with rubber pants at night. Investing in a few dozen heavy duty diapers has lasted all of our five children.
All were easily solved. We went to thrift stores and garage sales and bought cloth napkins. They didn't have to be fancy, just usable. They can be used a day or two by each person before just throwing them into the normal wash. (They don't take up that much room.)
Now the tissues: Mom and I now use handkerchiefs, one handkerchief per day and they get washed at the end of the week. It's amazing how much TP we used just blowing noses. We both have allergies, so that makes it even worse.
As for the paper towels: cloth does just as good a job for cleaning things as paper towels are. For these jobs, I use old sheets, stained or ripped clothing that can't be given to Goodwill, old towels, and other cloth that would otherwise just get thrown away. Knit/fluffy socks are great for dusting, T-shirts and other porous cloth for normal cleaning (including glass), and rough cloth for scrubbing. They don't fall apart like paper towels, either, and also can be thrown into the wash.
A note on these ideas however: if cleaning up something really nasty, like oil or grease or ink. I recommend just throwing the cloth away or wash it in a load with only other such cloths.
By Saber from Omaha, NE
You can buy inexpensive bandannas to use as colorful napkins. This is a guide about using bandannas for cloth napkins.