Unpaper Towels: The Green Alternative to Paper Towels

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Paper products are one of the number one “wasted money” items we purchase. **Fear not, I do not suggest you rethink toilet paper – though some do.** Think about how much a roll of paper towels costs. It may not seem like much, but now think about how many you use in the course of the day. Do you try to save a few buck by buying the cheap or store brand paper towels? Do you use quite a bit more because they don’t clean up as well?

Learn how to make your own unpaper towels, even if you have limited sewing abilities. This tutorial for DIY unpaper towels doesn't even require sewing in a straight line!

For just a couple bucks you can make 30 unpaper towels. And the best part? It requires no fancy sewing machine and it takes almost no time at all. I just did another set of 30 in the time it took my toddler to watch “the pony movie” (Spirit).

How to Make Unpaper Towels

Shop

You want to purchase some flour sack towels. I found some at Walmart. They come in five packs and each towel measures approximately 28″ x 29″ which is completely overkill for a paper towel replacement. We are going to turn each towel into six towels, giving us 30 towels.

Learn how to make your own unpaper towels, even if you have limited sewing abilities. This tutorial for DIY unpaper towels doesn't even require sewing in a straight line!

The key to sewing unpaper towels is to realize that your sewing job can be terrible and no one will ever know. Do not allow yourself to waste more than 5 minutes per towel. Once washed, the stitches and corners are not going to be seen. Put the pedal to the metal and run that sewing machine at full speed.

Fold & Cut

Lay out your towel on a flat surface. You want it unwashed and somewhat flat (but again, no one is going to notice if it’s perfect or not). Next you want to fold it in half with the fold on the longest side (one side is 1″ longer than the other side). Cut along the fold so you now have two long pieces. Jagged edges are completely acceptable.

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Learn how to make your own unpaper towels, even if you have limited sewing abilities. This tutorial for DIY unpaper towels doesn't even require sewing in a straight line!

Cut Some More

Take your two long pieces and stack them on top of each other. Fold these strips into thirds. You then want to cut these folds. This leaves you with six towels of approximately the same size. Here is an optional step: You may choose to iron at this point. The edges curl a bit and can cause some issues when you stitch the sides. I personally never iron. It’s too much of a hassle with a toddler running around and only small windows of opportunity to sew.

Sew

On to the sewing. I don’t have a serger or fancy sewing machine. I only have the basic functions. I knew I didn’t want to play around with pressing and hemming, so I decided to do a simple zigzag stitch so they wouldn’t unravel.

I decided to do a test to see which zigzag had the best results, so I did one towel with a small and tight zigzag and a second towel with a wide 3-step zigzag. After washing, drying and reviewing the results I decided to go with the small and fairly tight stitch.

Learn how to make your own unpaper towels, even if you have limited sewing abilities. This tutorial for DIY unpaper towels doesn't even require sewing in a straight line!

I used size 3 on my old-school Singer machine.

You will notice that some edges will already be “finished”. There is no point in re-sewing those parts. Just sew around the unfinished edge with the edge of the material as close to the outside of the zigzag as possible. If there is a huge amount of fabric on the outside of the stitch when you’re done, just trim it off a bit. Otherwise, we move on to the next step.

Wash

The first few washes will provide threads. Just trim them off when you take them out of the dryer. When the unraveling reaches the zigzag it will stop. Learn from my experience here:  Do not wash your towels with other stuff for the first few washes. I had threads all through my microfiber diaper inserts and my son’s flannel pajama pants. I actually suggest using a small laundry bag located in the kitchen to put your used towels and washing them separately.

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Here are some small laundry bags that are perfect for hanging in the kitchen to keep your dirty unpaper towels in:

So are you ready to Un-Paper Towel?

Learn how to make your own unpaper towels, even if you have limited sewing abilities. This tutorial for DIY unpaper towels doesn't even require sewing in a straight line!

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I am a non-traditional homesteader. What is a non-traditional homesteader? I'd like to think we are the people who don't fit the mold. I am a busy mom on a small bit of property with not a lot of financial resources, but I am figuring out how to live the life I want. A homesteader's life.

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About Jessica Lane

I am a non-traditional homesteader. What is a non-traditional homesteader? I'd like to think we are the people who don't fit the mold. I am a busy mom on a small bit of property with not a lot of financial resources, but I am figuring out how to live the life I want. A homesteader's life.

Comments

Unpaper Towels: The Green Alternative to Paper Towels — 56 Comments

  1. Just finished sewing up a batch, can’t wait to give them a try! After I sewed with a zigzag stitch, I also ran the pinking shears around with hopes of lessening the loose threads in the wash. Thanks for the tutorial!

  2. I’ve changed to unpaper towels and love them. Instead of sewing, I bought birdseye diapers and fold them in half a couple of times. Easy to use for everything.

  3. If you add little snaps on the towels you can snap them together and roll them up like paper towels! Save an old paper towel roll to use in the middle.

  4. What do you use to hold your towels? My paper towel holder fits easily on the counter, but a basket of “un-paper towels? Wondering if you have a cute suggestion!

  5. As to the bacon issue…I put the bacon on a rack on top of a baking sheet and roast at 350 for about 15 minutes or so. This eliminates the need to drain the bacon and only a small amount of grease is left on the rack. I can then scrape the bacon fat into a jar for re use or into the trash. Easy, peasy!

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