Friday, July 26, 2013

I Hate Paper Towels - But Not These!

I love to crochet. I find it relaxing and you don't have to think while you do it, so I can watch a movie and keep my hands busy. Lately I am on a kick to make dish cloths and wash cloths for the homestead. I have already made family cloth and while beating around Seattle last week I came across reusable paper towels (aka un-paper towels.) They were sold in packs of one and were close to $6 each. I entertained the idea briefly before deciding I could make them. Today I finally sat down and played around on the internet, looking at what other people came up with for inspiration. I found a couple of blogs that inspired me. The first is Ginger Journals who came up with this style:

Ginger Journals Reusable Towels

Cute, right? I really like the size she made hers measuring in at 11" x 6". This is a good size, not too large, not too small. A little larger than a half sheet. These just stack in a basket or on the counter in the kitchen.

Another inspiration came from My Healthy Green Family, who made hers the measurement of a Little Golden Book at 11" x 11", added snaps to connect them together, and wound them on a traditional paper towel dispenser. Quite clever. Hers look like this: 

Both of these ladies made their reusable paper towels by upcycling materials. I feel very inspired by both of these amazing end products, but I don't want to use a traditional paper towel dispenser and I only need a half-sheet size reusable towel. 

So I went to my stash of bath towels to see which ones I would sacrifice for the good of the order and found four very good candidates. Next, I dug through my stash of Waverly fabrics to find the fabric that I would use that would be "visible" when waiting to be used. Instead of using a book or trying to measure out my cuts, I found a piece of cardboard that measured 9" x 15" and decided that 9" x 7.5" (dividing the length of the first cut in half) would be the end measurement (minus seam allowances) and that was a suitable size for my needs. Instead of wrapping my towels around a tube and putting them on a dispenser and not wanting to add another basket to my already precious counter space, I chose to put a grommet in each one so that I can hang them on a hook. I can grab one off as needed and refilling the hook will be quick and simple. Here is what my final product looks like: 

Front Side: Waverly Cheerful Check Fabric

Back Side: Old Bath Towel (looks smooshed from ironing)

Pretty awesome, eh? I am VERY pleased. I am going to add a grommet to the upper right corner of each one so I can easily hang them on a hook. 

Now there are two schools of thought regarding the color of toweling and fabrics that you choose to make these out of:
  1. White and lights can be bleached in hot water in the wash to remove odors, germs, and stains.
  2. Darks don't show stains, wash in cold or warm water, and can be sanitized by running through the hot dryer. You can also add one cup of any of the following to the wash once the water is in (put in bleach slot of the drawer if you have a front loader): Use equal parts 3% hydrogen peroxide and vinegar (1 cup each) or 1 cup unscented non-sudsing ammonia. Either choice will help remove stains as well.
I chose to make my reusable paper towels in fabrics that match my decor. I am not too worried about stains as the pattern is rather forgiving and the towel color hides a bunch, but I will always wash my darks with non-sudsing ammonia to kill odors and germs as I have done for a long time. 

Eliminating the disposable products in our world doesn't really need to be that big of a challenge or disrupt our daily lives. Becoming aware of just how much we waste really makes us good stewards of this big blue marble and benefits all. 

Have you made your own reusable towels? Have you replaced a disposable product with a reusable/sustainable one? Share your experience below.