Zero Waste Unpaper Towels

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Making the switch to zero waste unpaper towels in your home is a great way to reduce paper consumption and reduce costs. There is no need to buy paper towels in bulk with these around!

Place a basket of the towels next to the sink for family members to easily reach after washing their hands or to clean up those quick spills in the kitchen. Add a second basket to throw used towels in. I found that my husband and I naturally reached for the unpaper towels right away because they were closer to the sink.Zero Waste Unpaper Towels

It is best to make zero waste unpaper towels with white terry cloth fabric so that they can be washed with bleach. They stay nice and bright over time, and the fun colored stitching is not affected by washing as long as you use polyester thread.

Supplies for Zero Waste Unpaper TowelsZero Waste Unpaper Towels

A decorative stitch is a fun touch if your sewing machine has the capability. If not, a straight stitch will work just fine.

How to Sew Zero Waste Unpaper Towels

Cut fabric into rectangles using a rotary cutter and cutting mat. Because the fabric was 44” wide, I cut off the selvage ends and ended up with lengths of 10 ¾” each. You can get 6 strips across the fabric at 6” each making the final dimensions 6” x 10 ¾”.Zero Waste Unpaper Towels

Using the thread color of your choice, stitch around each towel with ¼” seam allowance. Zero Waste Unpaper Towels

Have fun with the stitches and colors! I chose different decorative stitches, as well as zig zags in different lengths and widths.Zero Waste Unpaper Towels

For this basket, I chose three coordinating thread colors and made eight of each color.Zero Waste Unpaper Towels

Wash and dry the towels. The edges will come out very frayed. Don’t worry, that’s the point!Zero Waste Unpaper Towels

Use scissors or a rotary cutter to cut off the frayed edges.Zero Waste Unpaper Towels

Fold and stack towels in a pretty basket or container. Use as needed instead of wasteful paper towels!Zero Waste Unpaper Towels

Note: If you don’t like the edges of the towels frayed, you can turn the edges under and pin/clip before top stitching around each towel with ¼” seam allowance. I liked the frayed look, plus it was a much easier and faster process!Zero Waste Unpaper Towels

Zero Waste Unpaper Towels

Zero Waste Unpaper Towels Create Card

Zero waste unpaper towels are an easy sewing project that will reduce paper consumption and save you money.

Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $15.00




  1. Cut fabric into rectangles using a rotary cutter and cutting mat.
  2. Stitch around each rectangle with 1/4" seam allowance.
  3. Wash and dry the towels.
  4. Use scissors or a rotary cutter to cut off the frayed edges.
  5. Fold and stack towels in a basket or container.


If you don't like the edges of the towels frayed, you can turn the edges under and pin/clip before top stitching around each towel with a 1/4" seam allowance.

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26 thoughts on “Zero Waste Unpaper Towels”

  1. The Hanging Kitchen Towel and the Jar Opener projects turned out GREAT!!!…………..they do make wonderful gifts, thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • We use these to dry our hands, clean up spills, and sometimes as napkins. For bacon grease, I have a can that I put drippings in.

      • I lay papertowels down on a plate and then my bacon to help with grease. What do you use for that? Of do you not do that. Maybe I’m alone in that process, lol

    • I’ve done this into a flour sack towel. I keep a couple that are just for this. They don’t have lint and collect the grease nicely.

      • Thanks. I didn’t know you could use flour sack towels for the bacon. I was still using paper towel. I will change immediately.

    • We get a local newspaper advertisement weekly (I’ve asked them to stop sending it but they won’t comply) – I use a couple of these newpaper sheets covered by one paper towel (made from bamboo) for bacon grease.

    • Don’t ever waste bacon grease lol. Put it in a jar and keep in fridge. Add to green beans, navy beans, etc. It’s like gold!

  2. If you use a different color fabric (100% cotton preferably) you could use them for grease draining etc…Then you could be paper towel free.

    • I don’t get the whole “un paper towel thing” a cloth is a cloth. I have been using micro fibre and cloth towels for as long as I can remember. I do have a roll of paper towel that very occasionally gets used, usually for spilled oil so it doesn’t go in the waterways . It’s just my normal to use cloths and wash them.
      Bacon get put on a wire rack over a plate, that gets scraped into the tub with the green waste.
      I guess it’s what you get used to in the end. But it is good to see the awareness benefits of cloth wipes.

  3. I use flour sack towels for grease. Soak in a bucket with hot water and dish soap before laundry. I have specific ones just for grease and my cast iron rub. Works for us!

  4. Question… Do they continue to fray as you use and wash them? Currently I’m looking to repurpose our many recieving blankets from our first child into unpapertowels, do you think that will work just as well as try cloth? I’m new to sewing in general so I’m kinda making this up as I go. Haha

    • They last and have only had a few fray but this was after probably a year of use. It would depend on what the receiving blankets are made out of if they would work or not.

  5. You have given me an idea for using some of my leftover fabric stash! This is a good idea for breaking your paper towel habit! We did this about 20 yrs ago, although we keep a roll of paper towels to use in really gross situations (I.e. the occasional pet mess, we have 2 elderly kitties) our 1 roll can last 2-3 months. We keep the washable microfiber cloths for general cleaning and window washing. I buy the cheap multi packs (at an outlet or big box store) of terry dish cloths and dedicate them to reusable napkins, most last for years, we just moved a set to the rag box that we used for about 15 yrs.

  6. Love this idea! I keep two of my not-so-nice hand towels hanging on the pipe under the sink and use them to mop up floor spills. The great advantage here is that you can hold one end of the towel and use your foot to mop with the other end — a great benefit if you’re “older” and have an “even older” back! They go through the washer and dryer and back on the rack. I also use this procedure to mop up spots on the floor after running the robo vac if I’m not up to or don’t have time to mop. We have to revise some of our procedures, and sometimes our standards, as we get older whether we want to or not.

  7. This sounds like a great idea!! I was just wondering what you use to clean your mirrors and windows with? I’ve always used paper towels.

    • You could use the cotton thread on this. As saying goes Cotton fabric should be sewn with cotton thread; polyester or manmade fiber should be sewn with polyester thread

  8. I bought four 18 packs of white terry washcloths from Walmart when we couldn’t get paper towels during COVID height. We have continued using these. No sewing needed, and they are the perfect size. I have also now repurposed old bath towels into mops and dust rags!

  9. My grandson is going through chemo the second time. To prevent having a damp towel in the bathroom at the sink she uses washcloths or similar. Every time you wash hands you ha e a fresh dry cloth. No damp towel or germ factory.


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