A Paper Towel Alternative

It gives me great satisfaction to not need something. My weekly shopping list almost never includes paper towels.

The roll of paper towels that is sitting under my sink has been there for ages. I don’t even remember when I bought it. I have found something that works so much better —

these little beauties:

my microfiber towels.

I found them at Walmart in the automotive section. They are cheap (a package of 8 for about $5), but they are surprisingly durable. I bought a package of 8 towels almost a year ago, and half of mine are still new. I keep washing and reusing the same towel over and over again, but it hasn’t frayed or faded.

One microfiber towel will clean my whole apartment. I use it to clean mirrors and glass, dust, wipe countertops, clean the shower, and mop the floor. When I’m done with it, I just throw it in the laundry. I usually let it air dry, but it can also go in a low-heat dryer.

I often use homemade spray cleaner, but because of the microfibers, these towels can even be used without any cleaner. They’re that good.

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. That is a really great tip. I’ve been thinking of doing something like that and am thrilled to now know where to find really good towels for cheap! I hate spending money and wasting resources with paper towels.

  2. My husband and I were just talking about not buying anymore paper towels…thanks for the tip on where to buy a better alternative!

  3. berrymomma says:

    YEAH!! I’m a water and elbow-grease kind of girl too. It saves my sinuses and the chemical headache later. Tee-hee.

  4. My husband had these sitting in the garage for months. I swiped them on Saturday to clean the house after reading your tip. Worked so much better than papertowels and chemicals. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Spiffy! Bought a few to try out. Now to figure out what to use when cleaning out the hamster cage – I think I’ll start looking for a scoop.

  6. I cut up a few microfiber towels to the size of Swiffer cloths. So now I use them to mop the laminate floor. They do a great job — but I haven’t given up my bounty select-a-size rolls yet!

  7. That’s awesome, but I have some questions.
    -How do you clean a germy bathroom? (Toilet, sink, disinfect doorknobs)
    -How do you clean meat and possible contaminants off of kitchen counter tops?
    -How do you help defend against cold and flu germs?

    I’m -really- interested in using microfiber cloths, but reluctant to toss potty germs into my laundry. Do you have any ideas?

    • I bought some large microfiber cloths at Target; cut them in quarters and overcast stitched the edges. I wet one and use it to swipe the bathroom daily (ala FlyLady style). I start with the shiny side on the mirror and faucets; then flip it over the wipe off the counter; and then lastly I wipe the toilet lid, seat, outside bowl. Once I’ve used it on the toilet, I’m done using that cloth. Then it goes on the edge of the basket in laundry room to dry and then gets washed with the load of rags later in the week.

  8. smallnotebook says:

    Hope they work out for you avlor! Good luck for the hamster cage, I know pets are a good reason to keep a few paper towels around just in case.

    Jill, I love using the microfiber on laminate floors. I don’t have a Swiffer, but my kitchen is so small I can just take a minute to wipe it up by hand.

  9. smallnotebook says:

    Good questions Jasi – I definitely think it’s ok to use paper towels if you need to for germy things or food safety. I still have my old roll of paper towels sitting around in case I need to use them. Since I don’t use them to dry hands or wipe crumbs, or clean mirrors or that kind of thing, one roll lasts me many, many months.

    For cleaning the toilets, I just can’t bring myself to do that either, even if it’s probably fine. (I guess it would be the same as cloth-diapering, but I’m just not ready for that yet.) I will still use a paper towel for that, or even paper napkins left over from a takeout restaurant.

    We don’t cook a lot of meat, but I think the last time I cooked a roast I trimmed it in the sink and then sanitized the sink and rinsed it out. If there was meat juice on the countertop I might use a paper towel. I wouldn’t use a dish rag to clean meat and then use it to wipe the table, for instance. The dish rags get switched out for clean ones at the end of the day anyways.

    I think soap and water do a good job of getting rid of most germs. I’m big on hand washing. To really sanitize light switches and door knobs though, I use rubbing alcohol on either a cotton ball or a microfiber cloth. Those hold more liquid than paper towels so I feel like they work better for that.

  10. We love microfiber for stuffing our cloth diapers! I also sewed two together and wrap my hair in it instead of a towel, and then I only need a hand towel to dry my whole body. Saves on laundry to wash a few hand towels instead of giant body sized towels!

  11. speedogirl2 says:

    I love mine, I use them as hand drying towels in the bathroom and kitchen. I was able to score a package of 32(?) for $16 at Costco last year.

  12. nice ideas!

  13. Seriously: Everyone should go and get those Walmart automotive dept. microfiber towels. They are ~awesome~.

    Thank you, thank you!

  14. Thanks for the tips. Can anyone suggest the best spray bottles to use for homemade cleaners? I’ve used some in the past that are just junk. I’m ready to mix up my own cleaners now, but I’m hesitating on the bottle issue. Drives me nuts to pick one up and it quits working after a few uses. I’d love your suggestions. Thanks again!

  15. A couple of weeks ago I bought some xlarge men’s t shirts on sale at the goodwill store and cut them up to use for rags and in place of paper towels. They are amazing…they clean glass well, they’re everso slightly abrasive, but soft enough to clean glass and mirrors…they rinse out eaily. I have a container under my counter in the kitchen with a bunch of them, in vinegar in place of Clorox wipes.