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Saving Money on Paper Towels

Tips for saving money on paper towels from the ThriftyFun community.

Use Washcloths

Buy washcloths or dishcloths and use them as napkins. You can get them cheap at dollar-type stores or Wal-Mart/K-Mart/Target. When they are dirty, toss in the washing machine. That's what we do.


By Ann

Bar Towels

I stopped buying paper towels all together. I bought a stack of white bar towels at WalMart and we use them for everything from drying our hands, to scrubbing the sink, to wiping up spills. Of course, after they have been used on the floor, they go into the wash.

By Katie

Recycle Old Clothes

I have found that cutting up an old cotton tee shirt, sheet or a flannel sheet has worked great at making cheap napkins. I keep them folded in a little basket on the kitchen table so we just pull one out when we need it. Now if I have company at the table I break out the good napkins. When I have bought paper towels, on sale with a coupon, I take my serrated knife and cut the roll in half and that give me twice the towels for one price. Of course, you have watch yourself and not just use more from the halved roll.


Kitchen Towels

I keep a tea towel hanging near the sink. It would never occur to me to dry my hands with a paper towel. My grandmother and my mother never had paper towels. They always had 2 towels hanging over their sinks: one terry cloth for drying hands and one lint-free for drying dishes. Use the dish cloth for wiping up spills and for wiping counters after doing the dishes. No need for expensive cleansers either; just use your soapy dishwater. Before you go to bed each night, put the kitchen linens in the laundry and replace with fresh, clean ones.


By Kathryn Aqua

Dish Rags from the Dollar Store

I realized one day that I used a lot of paper towels for little things. This not only used up money but also produced a lot of trash. At the dollar store, I bought a 15-count package of dishrags for little money. I keep them in a drawer and use them instead of paper towels for little spills and other things. In my laundry room, I have a bucket that the dirty ones go in so I can wash them all at once.

By Leigh Ann

Chefs Don't Use Paper Towels

I have been doing that with towels my whole life. My mother and grandparents never had paper towels in the home. People always look for them when they come to my home. Also as a chef, it is too costly to have them at work.

By Lou

Toilet Paper Dispenser for Small Spills

Save a empty cube tissue box, carefully open one side without making any tears. Pull out the center cardboard tube in a one-ply roll of toilet paper. This is done by just firmly pressing one end of the cardboard and pull the paper away from the tube. Repeat this on the other end. Now carefully pull out the cardboard tube. Insert the toilet paper in the tissue box. Either tape up or glue the side of the tissue box to contain the toilet paper.


You can also make a slit on one side of the flap and insert the other flap, like a sealable cereal box. When you do this, the same box can be reused without having to re-tape and re-glue each time. Pull the toilet paper from the center of the roll. It is very easy to do. This is good for those small spills or to wipe foods from plates before putting in the dishwasher.

By Mike

Paper Bags for Bacon

I cut brown paper bags down into plate size squares. Cut down the sides and then the bottom and split the large size into 2 to do a good job of this. Then when I have a pile of them from 3 or 4 bags, I set them in an upright napkin holder near the stove. Place 3 or 4 of these underneath only one paper towel to put bacon on, or other fried foods!

By melody_yesterday

Smaller Paper Towels

My husband was using paper towels galore! Usually, it was just to wipe up a few drops of water on the counter, or to wipe his hands. To slow down this waste of money, I moved the paper towel holder to another location, and tore some into quarters. I placed the quartered paper towels where he is used to reaching for a whole paper towel. It works great, and my DH can still grab something quick to clean up.


By Zballoongirl

Use A Serrated Knife For Cutting The Whole Roll

I just tested cutting one in half. A serrated bread knife works but an electric knife works much better. IKEA also has a paper towel and wrap holder that has a serrated edge that will cut your paper towels in half.

By Susan from ThriftyFun

Newspaper for Cleaning Windows

I used to clean a car dealer's office. He had me use newspaper to clean door and window glass. I thought at first he was too tight to buy paper towels but actually they do a great job. They stay drier, hold up longer and leave no lint. The Swiffer mitts you buy are great for getting up spills, and other odd jobs for which you might use a paper towel. Just toss them in the washer with other rags (from old sweatsuits, undershirts, etc) dry and reuse. Money Saved!

By Sharon

Use Paper Napkins Instead

My kids used way too many paper towels for small spills, so I began buying napkins. They are "single serving" so my boys don't use half a roll. And paper napkins are cheaper than paper towels. I can buy a 200 napkin pack for a dollar at the dollar store. Paper towels cost 50-75 cents for a 40 sheet roll.


By Lisa

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By laramay (Guest Post)
February 22, 20080 found this helpful

I save more money by using paper towels than cloth dish rags and napkins. As the other person stated, there is the germ factor, especially if the mess involves meat or chicken juice or eggs. Salmonella spreads quickly. My water, soap and energy to wash towels and napkins cost a lot more than a 1.00 roll of paper towels which lasts about 2 weeks. I also use them instead of plates when eating sandwiches, cookies, etc. Saves water and time there too. When I'm done with the paper towel, into the wood stove it goes to start my fire with. Paper towels are great.

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February 23, 20080 found this helpful

When my bathroom towels and washcloths get frayed and ragged I recycle them to the kitchen drawer to use for wipe up jobs. I cut a bath towel in 3 or 4 pieces and run a few stitches around the raw edges. I can't remember the last time I bought brand new kitchen towels and cloths.

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February 23, 20080 found this helpful

A small coffee can makes a good dispenser for using TP instead of tissue or for napkins. Just remove the cardboard roll and insert into the can.


Make a hole or slit in the plastic lid so that you can pull the tissue through it. The outside of the can may be decorated if you wish.

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By Reba (Guest Post)
February 23, 20080 found this helpful

ATTENTION: Susan from Thrifty Fun
You mentioned a serrated edge and wrap holder. Which serrated? I can't find a "wrap holder" with Ikea. What else might it be called?
Thank you!

Editor's Note: Here is a picture of it online:
http://www.ikea  roducts/40022788

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
February 23, 20080 found this helpful

Why substitute? I buy the Bounty Select-A-Size and wash them. I throw them in the sink with detergent, wash & rinse them out, let them dry and use them all over the house for all kinds of cleaning. They're tough enough to take on most household jobs.They'll wash walls, windows, mirrors, refrigerator, sinks, stoves, cabinets, wipe up spills on floors, you name it. You can do this over and over until they start to fall apart - you'll be surprised how long they last - and then just wash and dry them one last time and toss them in with your papers to be recycled. Just be sure that the ones used for cleaning really dirty areas are not reused for any area near food or personal use. Saves the energy used washing and drying rags and cloths and is more "green" than all the other methods. One twelve-pack of paper towels lasts me nearly a year.

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February 23, 20080 found this helpful

I buy brown, unbleached (no dioxin) paper towels from Whole Foods or other stores. I set them out after wiping up spills, to dry either on the radiator or over the open microwave door overnight. I reuse them for the floor or other dirty job, then I put them in the yard waste recycling bag that gets picked up, to get turned into gardener's gold.
So recycled paper gets used many times here and recycled again back to the earth.
Please encourage your local store to buy & stock unbleached paper towels. It is so much better for our waterways and environment.

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By (Guest Post)
February 24, 20080 found this helpful

I agree with Tina; with the high cost of electricity and water I feel using rags, in the long run is not any cheaper. And too it's not as sanitary. I do like the tip of using an old phone directory under a paper towel for draining bacon, etc. I will start cutting my paper towels in half. I have already been doing that with wet wipes.

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February 24, 20080 found this helpful

My daughter tears most of her paper towels down the center (with the grain, lengthwise) because much of the time, we only need to use half a paper towel... This makes them go further!
* You can buy the half-sized paper towels pre-made like this, but why pay the extra money!?

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
February 24, 20080 found this helpful

My daughter tears most of her paper towels down the center (with the grain, lengthwise) because much of the time, we only need to use half a paper towel... This makes them go further!
* You can buy the half-sized paper towels pre-made like this, but why pay the extra money!?

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
February 25, 20080 found this helpful

O k no one hear knows who I am so Ill spill my shameful little secret. I save my paper towels that I dry my hands with at work saving the land fill. If work runs out I have some way to dry my hands. Thats actually how it started. Work at a non proff. And they had no money for towels for about 3 weeks. So I started stashing before we ran out. Lol then forgot to stop the habit. now I have a great supply for crappie jobs like dog puke, windows, anything I never used P towels for things like that before so I feel extravagant now using it for little spills on floor. And before everyone says use a reg. towel at work this for hard to explain reason not doable. I did try.:(

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By Sheila (Guest Post)
April 25, 20080 found this helpful

If you feel that using sponges, rags and handtowels are unsanitary, simply put one in the microwave (damp---never dry) for one minute. It kills the bacteria. I NUKE my sponge before I use it each day.

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March 17, 20100 found this helpful

Paper towels that are dirty with just food or water can go into the compost pile.

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