Since Mr. Bird and I first got married we have hardly ever kept paper towels or paper napkins in our home. One of the biggest reasons we first started doing this was cost. We didn’t have a ton of money, and I didn’t want to be spending money on something we were always throwing away! We were lucky enough to have a moderate supply of cloth dish towels and cloth napkins. We had received some as gifts for our wedding but also were given some hand me downs. My aunt one year cleared out all her “holiday” dish towels that she didn’t want to store to use just one time a year. We happily used these all year long to avoid buying paper towels.
I think the key to being able to successfully eliminate paper towels and paper napkins is to have enough cloth. I only have to wash our kitchen laundry once a week. I keep a milk crate easily accessible in the kitchen as a “hamper”. I find that the cloth towels and washcloths do a better job than paper, and are much nicer for wiping and cleaning up Little Bird.
Here is a picture of my “stash”. The OCD/minimalist part of me wishes everything was the same color, size and what not. But the frugal part of me LOVES that most of collection was gifted to us or free hand me downs. I store our cloth napkins in a bowl on our dining room table for easy access. I store my cloth towels and dishcloths in a bin in our kitchen storage unit.
Here is what a basic stash consists of:
24 microfiber cloths – $15 on amazon
5 flour sack towels – $8 at wal-mart
about 24 dish towels – 12 for $24 at amazon
12 wash/dish cloths -24 for $12 at amazon
24 cloth napkins – 12 for $13 at amazon24 cloth napkins – 12 for $13 at amazon
Total for the cloth kitchen stash = $109.
Ok, so while this might seem like a lot! You can slowly build your stash over time, and I bet you might even have many of these things at home to begin with. These cloth items will last you at LEAST 5 years, and you will see savings in the first year. One of the biggest things I had to get over was “saving” something for a special occasion. I now have enough cloth napkins that I do have some that I save for when we have company over (our everyday ones have seen better days). I am often gifted patterned/seasonal dish towels. For some reason I wanted to save them and keep them “looking nice”. Once I got over the fact that they are meant to be used, and that might mean they get stained–things have been going smoothly.
Cost to use paper towels
2 rolls or paper towels per week (average $1.50 per roll) = $3/week or$156 per year
For 5 years that is $780!
(you can head on over to a post growinggreenfamily wrote a few years back with more details of costs savings)
The laundry is definitely something to consider. I love doing laundry, and it fits easily into my schedule to do an extra load a week of our kitchen laundry. I am able to use my soapnut laundry soap without any issues. In fact, I have actually found that my kitchen laundry is coming out CLEANER with the soapnuts than with traditional laundry soap.
A bonus to doing kitchen laundry is that folding towels is nice and easy for toddlers, and is a great way for them to learn to help out!
Moderation is the name of the game when it comes to saving money and maintaining sanity. What are some ways that you save money that don’t feel like an extra burden?
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