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The 3 Best Alternatives to Single-Use Paper Towels

The 3 Best Alternatives to Single-Use Paper Towels

DISCLOSURE: The eco-friendly marketplace Ecoternatives has asked me to write about this topic, but I'm not paid for this post, and all opinions are unbiased and my own.

So, you're looking for an alternative for paper towels but don't know where to start. Well, in this blog I'll be talking you through your best 3 best alternatives.

1) Rags (what your grandparents would use)

2) Swedish Dish Cloths (if you don't know what these are, you are missing out!)

3) "Paperless" paper towels (the new trend)

So, What's The Problem With Current Paper Towels?

We cut down ~51,000 trees, and use 356 million gallons of water EVERY SINGLE DAY to support our paper towel addiction - and that's just in the US alone.

Besides trees and water, the production of paper towels is a very chemical heavy process, and requires intensive amounts of bleach and formaldehyde.

Two harmful chemicals to humans, and ones that often pollute fresh water ecosystems.

Finally, when paper towels are sent to a landfill, they release a greenhouse gas called methane as they break down; a gas 28x more harmful than CO2 in it's contribution to climate change.

These facts are truly shocking, but they're being hidden behind fluffy cartoon bears and happy family ads.

Now, lets get into the alternatives:

Option 1: Just Use Rags

***we made our own rag holder for easier access and to have them readily available on the counter. You can also just throw them in a drawer.


  • You probably already have rags, or can make rags at home. So they're very inexpensive or even free.
  • Can throw them in your laundry to wash
  • Can be thicker and hold mold liquid


  • Can sometimes be bulky or unaesthetic

2. The Amazing Swedish Dish Cloths

Swedish dish cloths are Europe's alternatives to paper towels.

They're essentially reusable 'sponge-like' paper towel sheets. These are great because they're made out of waste cotton and natural cellulose. 


  • Incredibly easy and fun to use
  • Basically stain free (at least the ones I use from Ecoternatives are) 
  • Can come in cute patterns
  • Home compostable
  • Each sheet lasts for months


  • They're often expensive upfront (but will save you money in the long run). However at Ecoternatives, they're only $1.73 each. Whereas the exact product on other sites are $2.75+++. They're also NOT made in China like almost all "eco friendly" products on Amazon. 

3. "Paperless" Paper Towels


  • Super cute, these always come in great colors or have super cute prints.
  • Can be rolled easier than rags and placed on a paper towel holder.
  • You can just throw them in the wash to clean them.


  • Takes a few washes before becoming “ready to use” (meaning, before they actually pick up liquids, rather than feeling a bit water repellent)
  • Could be a more expensive option upfront.

*** Ecoternatives offers a 12pack for $21.95, this same product is sold for $25.00+ on all other sites I could find it on.


Different alternatives may be suited better for different families/people, but overall  any of these options are significantly better than single-use paper towels. And nowadays, it's so easy to make the switch. 

Especially with the prices at Ecoternatives: the world's first actually affordable zero waste store.

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