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Friday, September 3, 2010

The ever Devolving Towel

Usually on every frugal earthy crunchy list is the following:
"Quit using paper products" - paper towels being a primary example. 

And invariably in the comment section is a lot of talk about what to replace the paper towels with.

I am here to help you. Notice the three towels in the picture above?  The pretty fluffy blue one is brand new, the one to the right is a couple years old and the third one is about 5 years old (maybe older -not sure).

This is the life of a towel in my house - it starts out a good towel to be used by either guests or Mom and Dad. (hey we are the oldest and my husband works hard for perks like fluffy towels).

Once a towel starts looking worn it goes upstairs to the kids bathroom and is used and used and used until it looks like the third towel.

This is a sad  and well worn towel too thin to really be used as a bath towel.

What do we do with it then????

Well I cut it up into about 15 wash cloth sized rags. These rags are used for everything a paper towel is used for. I clean with them, wipe up spills etc.

Slowly these even become raggedy, but we are not done yet. Oh no not yet. When they become raggedy they are now ready to do the serious nasty work - I clean grease out of pans and then just pitch the rag. I use them to wipe up vomit and poop, anything that is beyond gross I use one of these and then just pitch it all.

I also cut up t-shirts (these are better to use when washing mirrors and windows - no lint) sweatshirts, socks - any useable material that is too stained to be worn. If an item of clothing is too small or the owner doesn't like it  and it is still in good shape I will pass it on to either a friend or the Picken's but generally our clothes just wear out!

You can practice this principle of using things up - wearing them out in many ways. I think I first read about this in the Tightwad Gazette many years ago - she talks of having 3 sets of tennis shoes - one for good - wearing out and about, the next pair she wore when at home in day to day living and finally the third pair of shoes were for gardening.

It is an old principle - the Amish still practice. They (usually, at least the ones I know) have 2 sets of clothing - church clothes, and everyday clothes and they cycle the clothes - once the good clothes start looking so so they become the everyday clothes.

What do you use up? Wear out? Do you use cloth towels??

Linked to Frugal Fridays at Life as Mom


  1. I do exactly the same with not only the towels but also with my boy's very old clothes. Clothes that I cannot give away. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I will be following.

  2. I love this advice! Thanks.

  3. Great tips! We reallly are a wasteful bunch aren't we! (in general) I use way too many paper towels, I NEED to do this, thanks!!

  4. This is exactly what we do. We have piles and piles of rags and rarely use paper for anything.

  5. I do this with sponges. There are the dish sponges, and then when they get too used, we send them to the bathroom cleaning supplies.

  6. That's amazing. I really really like your system-- it always bothers me SO much how wasteful we all are.

    In fact, I'm going to cut up my old nasty towels right now.

  7. Well, I keep going back/forth on this issue: What about the electricity AND soap to clean those cloth rags and stuff. Therefore I keep thinking (altho not completely convinced) that it would be cheaper to find good deals on paper towels/napkins and then just throw them away rather than run up the gas/electric bills, not to mention having something else that I need to wash. I have a big family, so the cost of paper towels/napkins add us, but so does the cost to wash/dry.

  8. Anonymous - One of the main reasons I don't use paper towels is because I want to make less trash. I too have a big family and this is one small way to reduce our trash output. And I do think it saves me money.

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