Friday, August 3, 2012

Paper Towel Alternatives

I reached a point recently where I had to choose between buying food or buying paper towels.  Of course, it was a no-brainer.  We went without paper towels.  And then we went without a little longer.  But I hadn't really provided anything in the kitchen to substitute for those oh-so-handy paper towels. 

I began to bring the subject up at the grocery store checkout line when I guiltily bought one single roll of a really cheap brand (which are awful, btw).  It was interesting hearing some responses.  The male cashiers all completely understood what I was talking about.  The female cashiers looked at me like I was on crack.

One male cashier told me that he cuts up his old t-shirts and uses those, washes and reuses them.  What a great idea.  By the time I got home I completely forgot about trying to find something to substitute for those oh-so-handy paper towels.

One day I had to laugh at myself.  They are called paper "towels".  Duh.  That means that at one point in history people used actual cloth towels for the jobs that we typically pull a few off the roll for (sorry, ended in a preposition).

I would think about it a bit, envision that flannel would be an awesome paper towel substitute.  I still haven't done anything about making me some towels to use in the kitchen.  But here are some creative alternatives I have found.

  • Paper grocery bags -- did you know that is what your mothers and grandmothers used to drain fried food before the advent of paper towels?  So now I often ask for paper instead of plastic so I have a supply for fried chicken. [Yes, I tried those reusable bags and they got nasty really fast -- did not think a cashier would want to touch them after a few months. Working on sewing some new ones.  Okay, thinking about working on sewing some new ones.]
  • Junk mail -- I know.  Strange item to use but if you drop an egg on the floor you do NOT want to use your sponge or a cloth towel.  We all have some junk mail laying around.  Just open a letter-sized item and use the envelope to scrape the egg (or any other fairly solid mess) onto the paper, and toss.
  • Newspaper -- these are especially good for cleaning windows.  I don't subscribe but we do get junk mail printed on newspaper such as grocery store ads.  
  • Waxed paper or parchment -- waxed paper is quite handy (and I use it when I run out of plastic wrap as well with a rubber band).  Parchment paper is expensive so you are not going to clean up the counters with it but in a pinch it can be useful.
  • Old clothes -- this goes along with cutting up old t-shirts to create reusable kitchen towels.  I have been known to grab a t-shirt that has a hole in it, clean up a nasty mess or clean the bathroom and then toss it out.  If you clean up a grease spill you do not want to put a grease-soaked cloth in your washer and dryer.  Hand soak, wash, rinse and hang on the line.
I would still like to have a supply of clean, folded kitchen towels on hand but learning to make do really is rewarding.  When I get around to making my towels I will take some pictures.  I do have some ideas that might be interesting.  And old t-shirts go straight to the garage for my mechanic son to use.

I would love to hear what creative alternatives to paper towels you have all come up with (what is with the prepositions today???).

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