Save money and trees as you clean

Psst! How much do you spend on paper towels?

Yes, you. How much do you spend?

The very best deal I can find on a regular basis is around $10 for a 8-pack of “big-double-roll-select-a-size” paper towels.

I hate having to buy paper towels over and over again. And I hate unpacking them from that big plastic pack because I hate the smell. It smells all petroleum-ish and I think, “Who am I paying here? How many trees died for this pack of paper towels?” (Try it yourself. Press your nose to a new roll of paper towels and inhale. Mmmmm: oil-companies-getting-rich and deforestation.)

So, I did something about it. And it saves me lots of money. (Do I have your attention now?) It also saves trees. Here’s what I found:

These are microfiber cloths.

Oh, I know you’ve probably heard of these before and seen certain brand versions of these for dusting. But these are different. You can do a lot more that dust with these babies! I’ll show you how. First, let’s go to a store we all have nearby:

Image courtesy of Target

We can all agree on Target as a common store in our lives, right? Now let’s go find some microfiber cloths! Here we are in the mop-broom-dish-brush aisle and here are some microfiber cloths for cleaning:

Okay. There are 4 of them for $10.29. Hmm. I will wash them and re-use them, unlike paper towels. They do come in pretty colors. Is this really the best deal? $2.57 per cloth? Oh wait, there’s another option closer to the dish sponges:

Okay, now that is a “3-in-1” cloth, whatever that means. The packaging seems to suggest I can use it on multiple surfaces…3 of them. It’s still one cloth, though, isn’t it? One cloth for $3. Yeah, that is not a better deal. And I don’t really need the cloth to look green to know it is a green alternative for cleaning. Is that why this one costs more? Let’s look in that one other place I know about:

Now, here we go!

12 towels for $10?! That is more like it! 83¢ a towel is a much better deal!  And they are just grey and white…which is the exact color of the dust buffalos I chase out of the back of the bookshelves. And these are much bigger, too! Twice the size of those other towels. Why are these such a deal?


We’re in Target’s Automotive section. These towels are for detailing a car. And they are in ANY store’s automotive section.

Here they are in Wal-mart’s Automotive section:

15 towels for $9.87, which is 66¢ per towel.Remember the first set of four towels we found at Target? Those were $2.57 per towel. Aren’t those marketing people clever?

Well, if you can detail a car with one of these towels, I can really scrub my kitchen with one! And I won’t have to buy more of them every month. And there won’t be anymore paper towel lint caught on my fridge doors when I’m done.

You can use these cloths, any microfiber cloth, with any cleaner. Put some elbow grease into the cleaning and the cloths will solve most challenges. I use a very little amount of water on one to clean my laptop and tv. We use them with furniture polish on the hardwood floors. We’ve even scrubbed the cooking surface of our gas stove with them. Here’s my stack of microfiber towels with its regular companion, my bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s. (You can read all about this little cleaning gem here.)

There are only two things you can not do with these cloths:

  1. DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENER ON THEM! It takes away all of their magic-clingy-ness forever. (Yes, that is the scientific term.)
  2. Don’t put them in the dryer. They will shrink in a hot dryer.

How is this solution sounding to you now? It would be cheap to implement, since you were gonna blow some money on those disposable paper towels anyway.

Let’s recap:

  • Cheap purchase price for lots of product
  • Saves you money from future purchases
  • Saves you carrying bulk pack of paper towels to car & house
  • Saves trees
  • Less money to mystery petroleum & tree killing companies
  • Less garbage/recycling to put out on trash day
  • Multiple surface uses
  • Multiple cleaner options
  • Washable
  • Stack nicely in a smaller area in your cupboard

Wow!  Win-win-win-win-win. Do you even need another reason?

Okay.  I’ll leave you today to think about this:

Image courtesy of NASA

Earth Day is next week.

Are you doing anything to pitch in and help this year?

Posted on April 14, 2011, in Green Living. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. You do have my attention now. I’m the one who does the cleaning in my house and I do go through a lot of paper towels. When I was growing up, my Dad always kept a box or a drawer of rags. When I got my own place, I didn’t think that keeping rags was a clean or attractive thing to do. But I’ve noticed lately that the paper towels do cost a lot and probably aren’t the best for the environment. Who knew? Thanks for the tip. I’ll give this a try.

  2. This is a great idea! We’ve been trying to use fewer paper towels and have reverted to cotton dish towels for drying up in the kitchen and some clean up. These micro-fiber towels sound like another good option and, at the price, when they wear out, it doesn’t coast much to replace them. Thanks. I’ll be going to Wal-Mart tomorrow anyway so….

  3. I’m off to the store tomorrow. I just did my weekly grocery run and noticed that paper products had again jumped in price. How clever of you to think of these cloths! I will throw away my cut up T-shirts without guilt! I love that you share all these cost saving ideas, like the postage stamps as art.

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