Going paper free in the kitchen is a relatively easy process – even if you have toddlers! Having a paper free kitchen at home is an easy way to 1. save money (those paper towels can be expensive), 2. help make a difference to the environment by not purchasing paper towels/napkins and 3. and a great way to use up any old towels or materials you have had around your house!
There are many reasons why people find it hard to transition to a paper free kitchen. For some it really is a hard shift to make, the thought you need paper for some spills or that it is “easier” is a hard thought to break sometimes. But it really is recommended if you have a large family is to try to change slowly. Change one thing at a time and when everyone is on board with that change, you can move onto the next thing.
First we changed the napkins – this was the easiest to do by far. We don’t usually have napkins around unless we had a particularly messy dinner or if guests were coming over. By changing from paper napkins to material napkins we instantly felt a little classier at home and also having real napkins for guests just felt nicer!
Using napkins with children is also a fairly simple step – but you may require one or two around for the smaller ones, spaghetti can be a messy time! Maybe even try one damp napkin and one dry for particularly messy dinners. You can also use old burp cloths or old baby cloths that you have around as well – the kids will know which ones for them to use easily.
You can find gorgeous cloth napkins VERY cheaply at second hand stores, or even make some of your own with left over materials. Made It is also a big seller of napkins too and they are super cute such as these ones from Little Eve
My Tea towels were already cloth so there was no change required here. I don’t have a dishwasher so I do change my tea towels often to avoid mouldy wet smells in the kitchen. We also have 2 tea towels out at any one time – usually one is for hand drying after washing dishes and also to wrap around a coffee plunger while brewing, the other is for dish drying.
Tea towels can be easily found in many second hand shops and markets too. You could try your hand at making tea towels and even get into screen printing. Spin Spin Homemade has some FANTASTIC tea towels that she sells on etsy and Made It. Her designs are bold and very fun – she transforms the humble tea towel into a piece of art!
General Mess Cloth we have for any spills or cooking cleans up is microfibre cloths.
These I have found to be the best for the general clean ups, we have a fair few of them in the house – I guess we are messy! They are super quick to dry which is excellent – so after use give them a rinse and allow to dry on a dish rack or over the tap if you can. My kitchen gets a lot of sun, so we try to make sure we don’t leave the general cloth sitting on a bench or in a ball since it will smell very fast!
This cloth is also used to wipe the table after dinner and also benches in the kitchen. After we have used it and it is in need of a wash, we let is soak in bucket with a little bit of water and vinegar to remove any smells before we put it through the wash.
We have a set of cloths to clean the bathroom too – these are completely separate from our kitchen cloths since we don’t want to accidentally make ourselves sick by confusing the two cloths.
Using a simple system of changing the paper uses in your kitchen to cloth is very easy to do.
As for laundry and do we do more laundry than normal – the answer in my home is no. We try to be careful to not just use a cloth once and then put it in the laundry. I also keep a small bucket around for soaking the clothes before washing to avoid mould and ruining the cloths. With children, you might find you do have more cloths than normal to wash, but just toss them in with a regular wash, I wouldn’t run the wash just for these cloths! If I was desperate I can also hand wash one or two and allow to sun dry if the laundry basket isn’t full to justify a load of laundry.
I also keep 1 roll of paper towel in the cupboard to soak up any oil if we decide to make home made chips, but it is there for cleaning as a last resort.
So is your kitchen paper free? Have you been able to go paper free with no hassles or are you in the transition now?