How to Reduce Paper in the Kitchen

How to Reduce Paper in the Kitchen - Clean Mama

One of my most clicked on posts and ideas is how I cut way back on paper towel usage in the kitchen.  A few years ago I felt like I was going through a roll of paper towels every day and if you’ve ever bought paper towels you know that that can get a little bit pricey and wasteful.  So I tried to figure out a way to get kick the habit.  I rolled up bar mop cloths in a clear glass jar and put it where my paper towel holder used to be.  Five years later, I’m happy to say that I am still using the same jar and idea!  I still use the occasional paper towel, but I love the way bar mop towels clean counters and the whole kitchen.  They truly work better than paper towels and they are so much prettier!   I now have aqua and white bar mop towels in my shop – these incorporate all my favorite features into one beautiful and functional towel.

Rolled Bar Mop Towels - Clean Mama

What’s so great about bar mop cloths?

Once I figured out how much I enjoyed using the bar mop cloths, I found them to clean better than paper towels – no streaking, no/less lint, I can clean all the counters with one cloth.  And they just plain feel better – soft and luxurious.

Close-Up Bar Mop Towels

Tips and tricks to reduce paper in the kitchen:

  1. Stop buying paper towels and put away your paper towel holder.
  2. Buy at least a dozen bar mop cloths, put the cloths in a container where your paper towels used to be.
  3. Use one or two cloths every day to eliminate possible cross-contamination.
  4. Have a plan for the dirty towels – I put mine on a hook under the sink and then in a basket when they’re dry.
  5. Have kitchen towels that you love and keep them in a convenient place for hand drying (by the sink or dishwasher) – put out fresh ones nightly.
  6. Use microfiber on appliances (microfiber will last through 300+ washings).  I love my new Clean Mama Home microfiber cloths – the polishing cloth works amazingly well on stainless steel!
  7. Add fabric napkins if you’re feeling ambitious – this is something that I tried but went back to paper when my youngest was a baby and haven’t gone back yet.

Bar Mop Cloths in Drawer -Clean MamaI keep extra bar mop cloths in a drawer with these microfiber stainless and glass cleaning cloths.

Make your homekeeping a little more enjoyable by adding pretty products in the kitchen and reduce your paper waste in the process!

Kitchen Towels - Clean MamaThis is my kitchen hand and dish towel drawer – organized towels make it easy to find what I need and just nice to look at when I open the drawer.

Here are a couple of my favorites for reducing paper in the kitchen:

Bar Mop Cloths – aqua and white
Kitchen Towels – gray and white
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths – gray/polishing
Anchor Hocking Jar – glass

The Clean Mama HOME Bar Mop Towels and Kitchen Towels are in my shop – perfect for cutting down paper towel usage!


You might also like this post:

How to Launder Kitchen and Cleaning Cloths main via Clean Mama


  1. Henriette says:

    European habit: use paper to dry your meat and to mop up spills from the floor. In the kitchen we use three cloths: one to clean the counters and dry the sink. (Cotton is probably best for the environment, microfibres end up on our plates, because they pollute the water.)
    A lint free cotton cloth to dry the glasses and dishes.
    A terry cloth hand towel.
    All three are replaced daily.

  2. I love the ne bar mop towels and went to order more. However, the first time I ordered…I purchased a lot of things. This time I was only going to buy the towels…but can not justify spending $10 in shipping.
    Hopefully there will be a reduce in shipping charge and I will order more then.

    • Hi Tonya-
      I’m surprised it was coming up as $10 for shipping a package of bar mops – usually that’s about $5-6….I use the cheapest method available with insurance – USPS Priority. I also have a commercial account so the cost to the customer is significantly reduced. That said, I refund any overages over $1. If you do decide to purchase with the sale, let me know and I’ll refund any shipping that’s over. I appreciate your feedback and am always looking for ways to improve – I’d LOVE to be able to offer free shipping (I hate paying for shipping too!) but would have to raise prices significantly to do that right now. Hope that helps! xo

  3. What size of the glass do you suggest for a 1-2 person household going paperless?

  4. Very rarely do I miss having paper towels in the house! And even then it’s mostly when dealing with dog vomit (ew, but true!). I haven’t purchased paper towels in a few years, actually, and love not having that expense – also love not having to store a giant pack of paper towels! It’s easier to store washable cloths in a drawer somewhere for sure! 😀

  5. Cindy Thede says:

    What do you do when working with chicken or meat products. I use paper towel to wipe up things and then I can throw them away.

    • I’d like to know too!

    • I use microfiber wash cloths for that. If I’ve wiped chicken or something germy, I throw them in the laundry. I haven’t bought paper towels in years.

    • Jeanne B says:

      Dawn. Dawn soapy water kills germs. I just wash my counter and put the cutting boards n dishes in the sink to get washed. Sometimes I’ll put on the gloves and put a quarter cup of bleach in the dawn dish water.
      I work catering and the health dept tells us all the time that dawn dish detergent is all we need to kill germs on our food prep areas!

  6. How do you wash the bar towels so that all the messes they pick up some out? Thanks. I’ve been trying to use less paper towels and some of my cloths are looking really bad especially my white ones. Thanks

  7. So when you wipe down your counters and kitchen table after each meal, do you just use water with the bar mop or do you use a cleaner with the bar mops? And you just use the kitchen towels for hands and dish drying? Do you bleach your white bar mops to keep them looking clean? I could see them getting really stained over time after cleaning up a couple of spaghetti nights.

    • Jane Marie black says:

      I’d like to know this also

    • They will work both ways but my favorite method is to slightly dampen the cloth, spray the surface thoroughly, and wipe clean. I rinse the cloth and keep using it until I’ve wiped down the counters and kitchen table. I use oxygenated bleach (oxi-clean) to whiten them as needed. 🙂

  8. I’m slowly working my way towards a paperless kitchen. We’ve been using cloth napkins for a few months and I like the idea of putting a jar of towels were the paper towel holder usually goes. My stepson would barely notice the change and adapt easily, it’s my husband that would have a hard time adjusting 😉

  9. i love the bar towels! Still use paper towels for cooking 1-2 slices of bacon in microwave.

  10. We have floor rags, counter cleaning cloths (we tie dyed white ones from Ikea into bright colors that don’t show stains!), and use bar mop cloths for napkins (also tie dyed, both to cover stains and so everyone knows which napkin is theirs). Especially with kids, we found that terry cloth worked so much better than smooth cloth napkins. I still use paper towels for dog messes, and for chicken cleanup. We put a couple of bars across the back of the door to the basement to hang used clothes on until they get washed.

  11. Question, what’s the real difference in use of the bar mop cloths vs kitchen towels. Do you use bar mops to clean up spills and kitchen towels for only washing hands?

    • Bar mops are a little thicker and more absorbent – sort of like a dish cloth. I use bar mops for counters and spills and kitchen towels for hands. I use tea towels for occasionally drying dishes.

  12. I love using bar towels and love the idea of putting them in a jar where you’d store paper towels! Such a clever trick.

  13. I saw how you put a jar of dishwasher cleaning pacs next to your cloth jar and did the same. My dh just told me this morning how much he likes it there! I love it when the family gets on-board with kitchen clean-up. “Many hands make light work.” Thank you!

  14. I have a TINY kitchen – 3 small drawers and door cabinets (other than the sink cabinets) and 2 upper cabinets. No pantry cabinets, no pantry at all, and very limited counter space.

    I have stooped to using bookshelves in the kitchen nook for pantry, but I definitely couldn’t fit a jar of anything on my counters, so a long time ago I got a tub from dollar tree and stuck it under my kitchen sink (I keep no chemicals in the house, safer for my kids that way) and stick all my towels in there. Since I have a slatted shelf above the sink to use for a drying/pot rack, I just hang the used ones on that for the day, and bring them to the laundry at the end of the night after I run the dishwasher.

    I go through a roll of paper towels every 2-3 months now and I love it 🙂

  15. Becky, I love the idea of going paper-free in my kitchen. Not to mention, the jar of towels is super cute! My problem is that, with two cats and a small dog who all shed, I typically prefer cleaning with paper towels simply because their fur tends to end up on all surfaces even if the animals haven’t physically touched them. I am afraid that by using towels, the fur will just stick to the towels and end up spreading to other surfaces. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Sorry I don’t have any ideas other than a vacuum cleaner and a lint roller 🙂

      • Becky A says:

        Try useing the flour sack towels, just dampen with water or a mild bleach-water spray. I have two dogs that she’d and I use this method all the time. When I am done cleaning, I go outside and shake the towels vigorously and if they are pretty clean, I keep them on a hook under the sink for two days then wash them. Hope this helps.
        Flour sack cloths are great for drying dishes, Windows etc…lint free

  16. I love knitting with cotton and have a drawer full of lovely cotton cloths which we use for everything and havent bought kitchen towels for months. I made napkins with some lovely fat quarters too. When the kids were babies we used terry nappies, cotton breast pads and ive used fabric sanitary towels for 22 years. If youhave a washing machine, paper is just a waste of money.

  17. I love the bar cloth idea but you still end up having to wash them using hot water and detergent (both expensive) plus dryer which is high energy. The savings really do not add up v. the paper towel. I am not really sure about the cost savings here. Certainly more luxurious and classy looking perhaps.

  18. Hello, where do these ship from Canada or USA?

  19. Cathy kuenning says:

    I use paper towels to cover food being reheated in microwave. Any suggestions to change from these?

  20. I bought a 20 pack of white facecloths at Costco when my youngest began solids. They get switched out after supper and bleached when they get dingy. Some a permanently stained with blueberry but the same pack has lasted through the second kid and many visiting kiddos too. Don’t bother with paper napkins at all since there’s always a facecloth or two on the table at mealtime.

  21. I was wondering about the cost savings and how to handle family members that are germphobic. Like I can’t imagine one of my children (step-children, I didn’t create this personality) being comfortable with a used towel. Also, having a large family of 4 kids do you still think this is a good idea? Years ago I was paperless but slowly changed and now with the new marriage and more kids.

  22. Lory Scott says:

    I love all the suggestions and will be buying a cart load of towels tomorrow on a little shopping spree I was indulging myself in. I love linens/towels so this will be fun. I need to cut my paper towel usage way back. I can easily go through a large pack of 12 rolls twice a week. The big fat rolls that equal 22 regular rolls. Disgusting. Expensive. Shameful. Thank you to everyone for your suggestions on usage and cleaning of towels. I also have an addiction to Clorox wipes that needs counseling. God help me, I must be responsible for a forest of felled trees to feed my paper addiction????

  23. Chrissy says:

    After you use the towel where do you put it until the next use before you are ready to use a new one?

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