three kinds of reusable paper towel alternatives

The 5 Best Money-Saving Paper Towel Alternatives

You can actually save money, lug fewer bags home from the grocery store, and take out the trash less often with these paper towel alternatives.
By Elizabeth Brownfield
December 23, 2020
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You don't realize how much you depend on the humble paper towel until your last roll runs out — or until you find supermarket shelves bare where paper towels should be. You can, however, make do without this household essential thanks to the many excellent alternatives now on the market. Not only do these reusable paper towel alternatives outperform their conventional counterparts in terms of durability, versatility, and earth-friendliness, but they'll also save you money every time you reach for them over single-use paper towels.

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dishcloth in blue floral print
Credit: Three Bluebirds

Three Bluebirds Swedish Dishcloths

Three Bluebirds uses water-based inks to print cute, colorful designs on its Swedish dishcloths, such as fruits and veggies, botanicals, and retro Scandinavian prints. Soaking up 20 times their weight, these cloths can handle heavy-duty tasks that would shred standard paper towels. They also air dry quickly, which helps reduce bacteria and odors. And when you want to disinfect them, simply toss them in the washing machine, top rack of the dishwasher, or pop them in the microwave for a minute or two.

A single biodegradable and compostable dishcloth replaces 17 rolls of paper towels, saving you money and reducing waste. Made in Connecticut using a blend of 70 percent sustainably-forested wood pulp and 30 percent organic cotton, each lasts an impressive nine months.

Buy it: Three Bluebirds Swedish Dishcloths, $7;

two rolls of reusable bamboo paper towels
Credit: Amazon

EcoFox Bamboo Reusable Towels

These rolls of perforated white sheets may look like standard paper towels, but the sturdy woven fabric is actually made of fast-growing, sustainable bamboo. Each roll gives you 30 lint-free, 11"x12" sheets that can be used 120 times before tossing. That means one roll replaces a whopping 60 rolls of conventional paper towels, which leads to big savings and a lot less paper goods to haul home.

And bonus: the sheets are compatible with sweeper-style floor mops, so you can use them instead of the pricey replacement pads to save yourself even more money.

Buy it: EcoFox Bamboo Reusable Towels, $10;

reusable dishtowels that resemble paper towels on a paper towel holder
Credit: Amazon

If You Care Natural Reusable Paper Towels

Some reusable paper towel alternatives can leave lint or small fibers behind when used to clean glass, mirrors, or countertops. But not these all-natural and compostable towels, which are made with cotton and cellulose using a patented process that makes them extremely porous and absorbent. In fact, they can soak 16 times their own weight in water.

One super-durable sheet can be used for at least a week, and each roll gives you the cleaning power of 18 rolls of conventional paper towels.

Buy it: If You Care Natural Reusable Paper Towels, $11;

pack of terry dishcloths
Credit: Home Depot

HDX Multi-Purpose Terry Cloth Towels

No need to cut up your old sweatshirts for cleaning rags when paper towels are in short supply. These no-frills cleaning cloths made of absorbent terrycloth are a smart option for anyone prioritizing price over aesthetics. Each $10 bag comes with 20 washable and reusable, 14" x 17" towels, which works out to 50 cents per towel. It doesn't get cheaper than that.

If the cloths get grimy or stained, throw a batch in the wash with a little bleach to get them looking like new.

Buy it: HDX Multi-Purpose Terry Cloth, $10 for 20 towels;

stack of colorful printed cloth towels
Credit: Marley's Monsters

Marley's Monsters UNpaper Towels

UNpaper Towels — which are made of ultra-soft cotton flannel in prints like cheerful citrus, pretty stained glass, rainbow chevrons, and eye-catching cityscapes — are so plush and cozy that you'll wish you had PJs in the same fabric. Made by hand in Oregon, the 12"x10" shammies with serged edges get even more absorbent after a few washes.

Another unique feature: The fabric naturally clings together, meaning you can wrap multiple UNpaper Towels around your paper towel holder so they're always handy when you have emergency spills.

Buy it: Marley's Monsters UNpaper Towels, $16 for a set of 6;