Sunday, January 17, 2010

Throwing in the (Paper) Towel

There has been a post made on Simple Mom circulating around the internet, on having a paperless kitchen. While we are no where near being paperless (hello I'm obsessive compulsive germaphobe!) we have made a few steps in that direction. For instance, we used to use a lot of these:
The problem, as most people know by now, is that these types of sponges tend to harbor a lot of bacteria. Some people think that if you put them in the dishwasher, that will get them clean, but that's not really true. The dishwasher simply doesn't get hot enough to sanitize them! You just end up with a sponge that's completely saturated with dirty dishwater. Not sanitary at all when you consider that you're going to end up smearing that all over your counters and the dishes from which you eat. Yuck.

You CAN microwave them for a few minutes, and that will kill the germs, but they still end up kind of stinky and crunchy. Also, when you're done using them you have to throw them in the trash. Since a lot of them are manufactured with plastics or polyester fibers, they won't biodegrade and therefore are bad for the environment. You figure if you throw out your sponge every two weeks or so, that's 26 sponges a year for how many years, and for how many families across the country... that's a lot of sponges, yo. So, I switched to these:

I knit up some dishcloths using 100% cotton yarn. They get used for a day, then thrown in the wash with the white clothes so they can bleached. They scrub really well, but won't scratch anything. They get reused, so they're more friendly to the environment, and when the day comes that they are no longer serviceable, they'll be better in the landfill because they're made with a natural fiber.

We're also trying to use less paper towels. We old washcloths as cleaning rags. We use dishtowels instead of drying things with paper towels. At first, I was buying regular terry cloth kitchen towels - you know, the same ones they sell in every Target and kitchen store in the country:

They worked okay, but left lint on my dishes and streaks on my glasses. No bueno. Then I found these waffle weave towels:

They worked a lot better, and I used them almost exclusively for many years. I was especially fond of the holiday themed ones:

I used to have a whole bunch of frog ones that I got at Cost Plus World Market many many years ago, but they eventually got stained and had to be thrown out. *sniff* I loved those frog towels!
The waffle weave towels did leave a little bit of lint sometimes though, and they fade and look shabby pretty fast. They also tend to become very saturated very quickly because they're not very big, so you need to use two sometimes if you're doing a big cleanup. These things made them good, but not perfect.

Now, some people swear by flour sack towels, my mother in law included. I'll admit that I never saw the appeal in this type of towel. They're not pretty. They're so thin - how could they be very absorbent? I just couldn't get into them, always being lured back to the pretty towels.

That changed when I got my issue of Saveur this month. (It's an excellent issue, btw, and I highly recommend you check it out) There was a little blurb in there about them. I checked online, and there read even more good things about them. I think the thing that sold me though was the fact that everyone says they don't leave lint. I decided to pick up a pack of four the next time I was at Target.

Of course, me being me, I couldn't just leave them PLAIN, now could I?

This was the first one I embroidered. The pattern is from Urban Threads Embroidery.

The next one I did used a pattern from Sublime Stitching. I put these veggies evenly spaced across the bottom. You may recognize the tomato in the middle from one of the bibs I made the baby last year. I liked him so much I decided to bring him back.

I went simple with the next one. I looked online for a simple line drawings that I could use as embroidery patterns and found these images which are actually rubber stamps. First up I did some cute little cherries to go with my cherry themed kitchen.

Then I did a donut on the last towel, because I like donuts and well, it was cute.

I just picked up some more of these plain towels yesterday, and I'm planning on doing a few designs for some upcoming holidays. You know, Valentine's day, St. Patrick's day, and maybe Easter.

I'm really impressed with these so far. They're very absorbent, they live up to the promise of no lint, and best of all, I can bleach them and the embroidery didn't fade at all! Hooray new kitchen towels!

*** Don't forget, you still have time to enter my Valentine's Heart Garland giveaway!***

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Blogger Sharlene said...

Those are so adorable! You can so etsy them! I'd buy em. You are so talented!

11:25 PM  
Blogger Samara Link said...

Good for you. I still use a few paper towels here and there, but I've almost sworn them off completely. And I've been using knitted wash clothes, like you, instead of sponges for about a year now. I love them. I feel so much better about washing them for reuse them I did about tossing sponges into a landfill. Your embroidery is fabulous! Super cute!! I like those towels, but I don't use them exclusively. Not sure why. I guess I like the ones I've been using, and I use the flour sack embroidered towels that I've done for decoration and hand drying in the kitchen. This post is a great reminder to look at the stuff you're using in your house to reevaluate if it's A)earth friendly and B)effective.

4:47 PM  
Blogger LaurKnotter said...

I would love to place an order with you if you would do one. I would love some of these towels as well as some of the dish scrubbers. I am at

7:04 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...

Are you going to add them to your etsy shop or are they too labor-intensive for a return for you? They are pretty fabulous!

11:39 PM  
Blogger Susanne P. said...

TOTAL DITTO on adding them to etsy. i want to buy some. i have a retro red kitchen and those veggies would rock. flour sack towels are pretty much the only ones i use. your look awesome.

thanks for the heads up on that site. i love it.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally adorable...I'd buy them. :D Cus I'm not talented when it comes to embroidery. By "not talented" I mean I suck.

8:05 AM  

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