Wipe up, wash, repeat – no waste.

I just tried to order paper towels and was limited to one package.  Disposable paper towels are becoming as scarce as they were last winter.  Subscriber Susan G reminded me about unpaper towels.  We included these cotton and flannel reusable kitchen wipes in our Christmas list article several years ago.  Back then, the ‘use case’ was environmental protection, saving trees and reducing the chemicals and energy used in processing wood pulp.

In 2020, when availability of paper towels is limited, another good reason to buy reusable unpaper towels is that you can radically limit the number of ‘hard to get’ paper towels you use.  I still use paper towels for the very ‘stainy’ spills – blackberry jam, red wine and paprika come to mind.  Extremely smelly clean-up like garlic and raw fish also call for disposable paper towels. For everything else, grab a reusable towel.

There are variations on these clever cloths, but they will be most useful if they are easy to grab.  Find attractive towels which you are happy to have near your sink.  Subscriber Susan G covers the paper towel roll and its holder with an unpaper towel, so that the reusable towel is the easiest one to grab.

You will also want a basket or bowl to collect the used towels.  Here are some unpaper towel choices.  They are all machine washable and dryer safe.

green and thirsty unpaper towels

I like this ‘Sleet” pattern.  Green and Thirsty are two-layer towels are cotton flannel on one side and absorbent & antimicrobial bamboo + organic cotton French terry on the other – to quickly wipe up spills.  Each towel is 10” x 11”.  They are quilted to keep their shape and come with snaps to form a roll when you take them out of the dryer.  You can order them without the snaps.  Twelve towels, $68.50.

auqua tile paperless towels




Green and Thirsty Aqua Tile. 12 for $68.50



terry cloth unpaper towels

These reusable, paperless towels are made with terrycloth on one side and printed cotton on the other. They have clever plastic snaps to make them as easy to use as ‘tear-off’ paper towels. Towel holder not included. 11.5in x11.5in.  Birch Wood, twelve towels with snaps.  $48.

There are lots of patterns in this terrycloth, printed cotton combination.blossom and dots unpaper towels




Set of twelve towels, Blooms and Dots, $48.






Leave and Sprigs pattern. $48




lemon tree unpaper towels



Lemon Tree, 12 for $48.





leaves on dots with snaps towels




Leaves on Dots. 12 for $48.




barnwood towels from Etsy

Barn wood. 12 for $48.

Marly’s Monster UnPaper

Marly’s Monster UnPaper towels are made of one layer of felt-like cotton flannel with a serged (stitched) edge to keep them from unraveling. Each towel is 12” x 10”.  Allow for some shrinkage after washing. The flannel cloth clings a bit to the other cloths, giving you the option of keeping a ‘roll’ in a paper towel stand.  They do not have snaps and a stand is not provided. These are soft, white, simple, and appealing. 24 towels for $58.

cotton flannel unpaper towels

These Earth Kind two-layer towels are small, 8” x 8” – which is often just the right size. Cotton flannel on one side and 100% cotton on the other. They offer plastic, metal, or Velcro fasteners.  Expect some shrinkage.  Ships from England. Set of 8 white/off-white washable kitchen towel,  8”x8” squares with poppers for fastening.  $35.92

Dot and Amy cotton weave towels

These single layer Dot and Amy unpaper towels are made from 100% organic cotton, with an extra-thirsty, scrub-ready waffle-like texture.  Set of fifteen 14” x 12” towels.  $50


BIrds eye cotton

These Unpaper towels come in a single layer of bleached (white) or unbleached (natural) Birds-Eye Cotton with a diamond weave. There are 14 color choices for the serged (stitched) edges, or you can buy a rainbow selection. No snaps, 11” x 11”.  Allow for some shrinkage after washing.  12 towels for  $18.


paper towel stand

This tension spring arm on this Simplehuman paper towel holder expands to hold unpaper towels in place. It is made of brushed stainless steel. Tension arm holder, $25.

Savannah sea grass box

I like this lidded, handwoven Savannah seagrass baskets to collect my unpaper towels and keep them out of sight. Two sizes:

Small: 8″ wide x 12.75″ deep x 6.25″ high. $29

Medium: 16.75″ wide x 11.75″ deep x 8.25″ high.  $49.50

plastic waste baskets

These simple plastic wastebaskets are a good under sink place to collect use unpaper towels.  11.5 x 6.75 x 14.25 inches. Two for $22.99

ASE reader Bonnie C. recommends Amazon cotton face cloths 24 for $17.99 and Costco’s cotton face cloths, 24 for $11.99 for at-home use. She buys white, washes and reuses them.



ASE article on reusable grocery bags