With all of the messes that three little ones create, I noticed that our paper towel consumption was at an alarming rate. Even using “pick-a-size” towels, running into the back room to get a fresh roll was happening far too often. Worse, many sheets were tossed in the trash with nothing more than a few drops of milk or a tiny smear of sticky-hands on them. A few things I wiped up with a dishtowel, but then I was left with a grimy dishtowel on which to dry my nice clean dishes. Yuck.
While browsing Costco’s aisles one day, I noticed a giant (of course) package of shop rags — cheap, oversized terrycloth washcloths — and I had one of those light-bulb-over-the-head moments.
Thus was born my experiment: I take out a fresh shop rag in the morning, and use it for all of the minor wipe-up jobs for which I’d normally grab a disposable towel. At the end of the day the used rag goes into the hamper in the laundry area with the dirty dishtowels. There are still occasions for disposable towels — meat juices or other potentially hazardous food messes, potty accidents (my next experiment may be using these for bathroom cleaning).
So far, so good. The shop rags are large and absorbent enough to handle a good-sized spill, but small enough to not generate a huge pile of unnecessary laundry (as the grimy dishtowels were beginning to do). The laundry area is right next to the kitchen, has a slop sink for really soggy rags, and was already the repository for messy towels and other items destined for
nuke from orbit hot water wash with a little bleach. If you don’t have a Costco nearby, similar rags can be found at hardware and auto supply stores.