DIY Reusable Unpaper Towels – a MUST HAVE to reduce waste

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Unpaper towels to replace your paper ones

These unpaper towels are a fantastic way to cut back on disposable towels. How many paper towels does your household go through in a week? In a month? We are trying to reduce waste around here and live more sustainably. 

I purchased these cotton reusable towels from Amazon quite a few months ago, and while I like them, I don’t LOVE them.  They don’t stay rolled up very well on my holder and I wish they were a little more absorbent. So I went surfing to see what I could find. 

What I ended up with was a compilation of various DIYs. I was able to utilized mostly supplies I had on hand already too, which was a huge bonus. We literally have a mini-craft store in our art room and it’s really time to start using/giving away some of the stuff. 

What fabric to use

unpaper towels sitting on cutting mat

I made a two ply towel, with diaper cloth on one side and flannel on the other. Once I had a stack of about 12 of them, I put snaps on the edges and created a reusable tube with some plastic needlepoint canvas that I’ve had for at least 10 years…. I told you we have like everything in that art room. And I even knew where it was! 

We have a big snap press from a big project we were involved with a few years ago, and I’m glad to have it because RA has really done a number on my hand strength. Regular snap pliers would work fine as well.  And if you don’t want to mess with the snaps, you an just roll then around the base on their own.

Putting snaps on unpaper towels

After snapping all the towels together, I attached to the tube and rolled them up. Viola! Reusable, Rollable Un-Paper Towels. My flannel is a little mish-mashy with the patterns because it’s left over from some other projects. If you’re looking to really conserve resources you could certainly recycyle/upcycle flannel sheets or shirts.

The one thing I needed to purchase was the diaper cloth  which we picked up at JoAnn Fabric and used a 60% off coupon (score!).  Linen tableclothes or even old tea towels would also work. 

We have a small bin under the sink for soiled towels, and then when I run a load of towels, sheets or the like through the washer I add these in to the mix.  That way we aren’t using any additional resources to clean them.  If they are extra dirty, you can soak in some white vinegar and water first and then use an environmentally responsible laundry detergent like this recipe

Now to make a second set so we always have a spare ready to go. 

Let us know if you make this project and what you think!

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Reusable Unpaper Towels

These simple DIY unpaper towels will help you cut down on household waste.
Keyword: diy, reduce waste, sewing

Equipment

  • sewing maching
  • serger
  • rotary cutter, cutting mat, and ruler

Materials

  • 2 yards flannel
  • 2 yards diaper cloth
  • thread
  • plastic canvas sheet
  • snaps and snap setter (optional)

Instructions

  • Wash diaper cloth and flannel in hot water so any shrinking will occur before you sew. Press fabric before cutting to make it easier on yourself in the long  run. I’m the queen of “do I really need to do this?” Yes, yes you do.
  • Cut both fabrics into 12″ x 12″ squares You can use a rotary cutter to  cut through both layers of fabric at the same time. You want at least 12 sets cut out.
  • Sew two diagonal lines from each corner to the opposite to keep the two pieces of fabric together. Then serge the edges.  I love serging. It’s oddly satisfying. ANYWAY.  After you have all the sets sewn and serged, it’s time to get out your snaps and snap setter. **UPDATE** I have found that the snaps really aren't necessary. The flannel seems to stick together enough on the roll on their own. I'll still include the directions in case you really want snaps, otherwise, skip to creating the plastic canvas roll. You won't need the outside snaps on that, just the ones to hold it together or use yarn and needle to close)
    Snaps have a stud side and a socket side (the stud part sticks out and the socket part goes in). Arrange all your towels with the flannel side up and set two socket side snaps facing downwards on the right side of the square and two stud snaps facing up on the left side of the square. I used a piece of plastic canvas the height of my towel for a template and marked spots with a sharpie to make a pattern for where to place the snaps. Saved a tone of time. Repeat this for each unpaper towel.
  • Next up, making a roll: Cut a piece of plastic canvas 6 1/2″ x 12″. Attach 3 stud and socket snaps on each side about 3/4″ of an inch in. One set facing down and the others facing up as you see in the first photo above so that your grid will overlap about 3/4″ on each end when you snap it into a roll. Next  attach two stud snaps that face outward when the roll is snapped together in the middle of your canvas the same distance apart as the snaps on your towels (use your template for this).
  • Now all you need to do is snap the roll together and attach your unpaper towels rolling as you go.  You can slide on your paper towel holder. I really like THIS one.

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