Green Cleaning: Converting to the Cloth

Recycling paper is an easy and important way to reduce waste and protect trees, so why not take the next step—and go paperless. Eliminating your paper towel use is simple, and you will cut down on landfill waste, protect forests, and save money. What’s not to love?

When used for sopping up soil and grease, disposable paper towels can’t be recycled or composted so they’re relegated to the trash. Every day, over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste ends up in U.S. landfills. Beyond the greenhouse gases produced by the extra tonnage burdening our landfills, paper towel production tears down trees. In fact, for every one ton of paper towels produced, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed. Even when paper towels are made of recycled materials (and not pulp from virgin forests), they still have an environmental impact—the recycling process uses water, energy, and chemicals.

Reusable cleaning cloths are tree-saving, cost-saving alternatives that will allow you to clean surfaces in your home using less paper, water, and chemicals—and feel satisfied with your green cleaning. Check out our picks for converting to the cloth.


Microfiber cloths can be used with water alone due to their millions of microscopic fibers that effectively scrape up and hold bacteria, grease, and grime. These tiny fibers are 1/16 the thickness of human hair, but when woven together they create a surface area 40 times larger than traditional fibers— this fact results in greater absorbency. Microfiber cloths are also fast-drying and can simply be rinsed or machine-washed for re-use.

  • The popular E-cloths are scientifically proven to remove over 99% of bacteria using just water. They come in a variety of styles for different cleaning purposes (stainless steel, windows, glass and polishing). $9.99 for 1, $16.99 for 2
  • makes a solid microfiber cleaning cloth with a built-in scouring scrubber. $4.95 for 1

[Note: Microfiber does have an environmental impact—petroleum and petrochemicals (non-renewable and non-biodegradable) are used to make the polyester and nylon fibers. However, because these cloths can be re-used hundreds to thousands of times, you might only need to purchase a few in your lifetime.

Re-usable and Biodegradable Cloths:

Plant-based and biodegradable, reusable wipes are generally compostable and easily washable. They will also last much longer than a roll of paper towels so they’ll save you money in the long run.

  • Skoy Cloth is made from natural cotton and wood-based cellulose pulp, absorbing 15x its own weight. $6.95 for 4
  • Full Circle Cellulose cloths are great for dishes and surfaces. $11.98 for 3
  • Bambooee towels resemble paper towels, but one sheet can last up to 1.5 weeks and can be washed 20 times. $20.99 for pack of 20 towels
  • EcoTowl reusable wipes are 82% bamboo and 18% corn, absorbing 10x their weight. $3.95 for 3
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