Cleaning Hacks

There’s Another Paper Towel Shortage—Here Are 6 Reusable Alternatives and How To Clean Them

Kara Jillian Brown

Photo: Stocksy / Zoran Milich

Seven months into the pandemic and there’s still a paper towel shortage. A combination of hoarding, slowed production, and stalls in the supply chain have made it so difficult to find paper towels, let alone the ones from your favorite brand. There’s never been a better time to choose a more sustainable route.

According to the American Forest and Paper Association, in 2017, people living in the United States used 7,500,000 pounds of paper towels. But there are so many options for reusable paper towels on the market. And while a typical rag or washcloth will do, I find that things like dishcloths and microfiber cloths are easier to wring out so you don’t have a laundry pile full of sopping wet cloths.

When using a reusable cloth, Karen Hoffmann, RN, immediate past president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, says you can use one for the day. Soak them in hot soapy water for 20 minutes after use, and set them aside to be laundered at the end of the day. You can put them in the washing machine, or just chuck them in the dishwasher.

Reusable paper towel alternatives (because there’s still a paper towel shortage)

1. Grove Collaborative European Dish Cloth, $6

Grove Collaborative European Dish Cloth, paper towel shortage

This set comes with two pretty dishcloths. They’re super absorbent and durable, allowing you to reuse them many times. And so you don’t accumulate a huge pile of them, just throw them in the dishwasher so you always have fresh ones on hand.

Shop now: Grove Collaborative European Dish Cloth, $6

2. AmazonBasics Blue, White, and Yellow Microfiber Cleaning Cloths, $20

AmazonBasics Blue, White, and Yellow Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

Microfiber cloths are amazing for everything from cleaning up spills to removing dust. So you don’t amass a huge pile of dirty cloths, follow Hoffmann’s tips above for making one last the whole day. For $20 you can get a set of 36.

Shop now: AmazonBasics Blue, White, and Yellow Microfiber Cleaning Cloths, $20

3. Wowables Reusable & Biodegradable Paper Towel, $20

Wowables Reusable & Biodegradable Paper Towel, paper towel shortage

This roll of 30 reusable towels the equivalent of 260 traditional rolls. They’re dishwasher safe, making them super easy to wash and keep on hand.

Shop now: Wowables Reusable & Biodegradable Paper Towel, $20

4. Luckiss 100% Bamboo Dish Cloths Cleaning Cloth, $14

Luckiss 100% Bamboo Dish Cloths Cleaning Cloth

These bamboo cloths are great for cleaning everything from pots and pans to mirrors. This set comes with 14.

Shop now: Luckiss 100% Bamboo Dish Cloths Cleaning Cloth, $14

5. Marley’s Monsters Unpaper Towels, $30

Marley's Monsters Unpaper Towels, paper towel shortage

If you’re looking for clothes pretty enough to store on the counter, Marley’s Monsters has unpaper towels in a variety of patterns and colors so you can find one that matches your space. This $30 set comes with 12, but you can also opt for the $16 six-pack or the $54 24-pack.

Shop now: Marley’s Monsters Unpaper Towels, $30

6. Food 52 Reusable Paper Towel Roll, $32

Food 52 Reusable Paper Towel Roll

One of the downsides to reusable paper towels is that they stain and look gross after a while. If you compost or have access to a compost drop-off location, these towels give you the best of both worlds. Each sheet lasts for one week, and once they’ve reached the end of their life, just compost them. This set comes with three rolls that each have 12 sheets.

Shop now: Food 52 Reusable Paper Towel Roll, $32

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