Reusable Cleaning Cloths: How to Break Up with Paper Towels

Reusable Cleaning Cloths

Paper towels are convenient, absorbent, and easy to use. In fact, the United States loves paper towels more than any other nation. In 2017, Americans spent $5.7 billion dollars on residential use of paper towels, which is what every other country spent combined. More than 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used in the United States each year.

Meanwhile, a Nielsen study showed that most non-American countries favor other cleaning tools like brooms, mops, scrubbing brushes, cleaning cloths, and rags instead of paper towels. Why? Paper towels are expensive, break apart easily, can’t be recycled, and leave a huge carbon footprint. 

Because paper towels aren’t meant to last, their fibers break apart very easily, rendering them basically single-use and disposable—similar to disinfectant wipes

Unless the product specifically says “made from recycled materials,” most paper towels are made from virgin forest fiber. In order to manufacture one ton of paper towels, about 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water are used and polluted in the process. That means a staggering number of 51,000 trees per day is needed to replace the amount of paper towels discarded every day by Americans, contributing to deforestation. 

Besides the large amounts of trees, water, and energy required, many different chemicals are used in the process of making paper towels. In order to soften the wood fibers, they undergo a chemical bath of lye, caustic soda, and hydrogen peroxide. The material also gets bleached with chlorine to get the desired white color. For paper towels’ ability to stay durable when wet, formaldehyde—a known carcinogen—is used. Lastly, two byproducts of the paper towel manufacturing process are dioxins and furans, which are carcinogens and mutagens that can affect humans’ immune and reproductive systems. 

Used paper towels also cannot be recycled. They’re compostable only in certain areas with restrictions like organic residues only and nothing hazardous. Even so, some municipal waste management agencies may choose to not accept used paper towels, like Boulder, Colorado for example. In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that Americans generated about 7.4 billion pounds of waste consisting of paper towels, toilet paper, and tissues. Once in a landfill, paper towels release methane as they decompose.

For those worried about the carbon footprint of paper towels, you have a right to be concerned. A household using 10 paper towels each day for a year generates 19 lbs of CO2 or the equivalent of driving a car for 173 miles. Not only that but a family using two rolls of paper towels per week means a cost of about $200 per year. 

Facts about Reusable Cleaning Cloths

A simple swap can help you clean your home in a much more eco-friendly way, and save money at the same time. 

One pack of our reusable cleaning cloths is the equivalent of 40+ rolls of paper towels, saving you at least $100! They are absorbent, soft on surfaces, and machine washable—more than capable of doing anything paper towels can, and more. 

Made with 100% rayon without synthetic chemicals, these cleaning cloths are not only durable—they can be washed more than 40 times each—they’re also ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) certified biodegradable and compostable.

How to Use Reusable Cleaning Cloths

These eco-friendly reusable cleaning cloths are super soft and gentle on all kinds of surfaces and materials. Since these absorb 4X their weight in liquids, they’re great for soaking up spills. Here are some ideas for using them to get you started: 

  • Clean high-touch surfaces like doorknobs and light switches.
  • Ran out of kitchen towels? Use these cloths to dry your dishes.
  • Use them on glass, mirror, or stainless steel for a sparkling, streak-free shine—just wipe until completely dry. 
  • No salad spinner? No problem! Use these cloths to dry your greens.
  • No need for a feather duster: use these cloths to clean dust.
  • Clean your gym equipment like weights, yoga mats, and exercise balls
  • Great for wiping down sinks and counters
  • Polish your faucets
  • Great substitutes for those pricey single-use Swiffer pads! 

When you’re done, either hand wash them and let air dry, or throw them in the washing machine or dishwasher! 

The Perfect Companion: Force of Nature

Pair these reusable cleaning cloths with Force of Nature to tackle dirt, dust, grease, grime, germs, odor, and more! 

Force of Nature is a multipurpose cleaner, deodorizer, and disinfectant made from just salt, water, and vinegar! No harmful chemicals, residues, or fumes here. The Force of Nature appliance electrolyzes tap water and converts the simple ingredients to create the antimicrobial hypochlorous acid, which is gentle and used in wound healing, eye care, and veterinary care products. Yet it is as effective as bleach

It is also an EPA-registered medical-grade disinfectant that kills 99.9% of viruses & bacteria, even approved for use against COVID-19!  

We created Force of Nature because we believe you shouldn’t have to choose between what works and what’s gentle to people (kids and pets too!) and our planet. Learn more about our co-founders and story here.

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