KIOS: Cleaning, Part 1: No Paper Products

This post is part of my series, “Kickin’ It Old Skool: Why and How We Are Old-Fashioned” or KIOS for short.  If you’re new to the series, please read my disclaimer before continuing on.  I’m keeping a table of contents to this series here so you can see what I’ve already written about and what more there is to come.

I think four and a half months of food is enough, don’t you?  Of course, I keep thinking about more I could write but I’m also ready to move on.  So let’s move from the edible to the inedible. (Although actually, technically, this topic could be edible too.  You’ll see, eventually.)

Once we’d started along our “real food” journey, we also started thinking about other areas of our life that we could apply similar principles too.  Cleaning, or housekeeping, was an obvious direction to move in.  We wanted to follow the same responsible, ethical ideas that we were trying to figure out with our food.

The first area we decided to address was eliminating paper/disposable products from our house, both in cleaning as well as entertaining.  I was inspired in this by my brother and sister-in-law, Chris and Katie, who had mentioned to me a long time before that they’d bought a big pack of washcloths so they didn’t have to use paper towels.

So I bought a pack of 20 washcloths and we’ve accumulated more since then so we have plenty to use for washing dishes and all our cleaning.  It took me at least two years (maybe three) to use up all the sponges that I had bought (*cough* hoarded) from Costco (hey, they send you coupons!) and we’ve been a sponge-free kitchen for almost a year now.

For really messy jobs, like squishing bugs, drying off meat or fish, or greasing our cast iron pans, we have been keeping around a roll of paper towels but we store it in the linen closet.  So it takes effort to get out the paper towels and consequently, we don’t use them that often.  A roll lasts us for many months.  Recently, I had a pair of sheets that was beyond salvaging (not even useful for sewing projects).  So I’ve cut them up into large rags and we’ll start using (and throwing away) those rags rather than paper towels for these same jobs.  We would have just thrown away the sheets anyway so this feels like the perfect “reuse” project for them!

Nik also purged a bunch of his old T-shirts so we are stocked for a long time in the cleaning rag department.

I’ve found that using cloth instead of paper has added a negligible amount to our laundry load but has eliminate a big cost from our budget and reduced our trash.  Win, win all around!


The Simple Dollar has a nice layout of the cost of using rags vs. paper towels.  I figured using rags saved us money but he’s proven it!

One method for creating a paperless kitchen.

A few nice tips for cleaning safely with cloth.

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5 Responses to KIOS: Cleaning, Part 1: No Paper Products

  1. Tory says:

    Thanks for writing about this! We’ve been using cloth for a while now, but still tons and tons of paper towels. As I was reading through your post and following your links through the interwebs, I had a “DUH” moment. The dish cloths are in a baby-proof cabinet (magnetic lock required), and the paper towels are right on the counter. No wonder we all still reach for paper first. I’m not sure how to organize this better within the constraints of our kitchen, but I’m going to try to figure something out!

    • Laura says:

      That was totally what did the trick for us too, Tory. We didn’t stop using the paper towels despite our best intentions until we hid them in the linen closet. It was just too easy to grab for them otherwise. Since we did that, I don’t think we’ve finished a single roll!

  2. Pingback: KIOS: Cleaning, Part 2: Cleaning with Stuff We Can Eat | Salmon and Souvlaki

  3. Pingback: Why Didn’t I Think of This Before? | Salmon and Souvlaki

  4. Pingback: KIOS: Grooming, Part 6: Family Cloth and Mama Cloth | Salmon and Souvlaki

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