We recently switched to using reusable paper towels to wash dishes and clean the kitchen, and they’ve been so darn handy. They’re easy to use, effective at cleaning, and long lasting (so they save us money!). Here are the best ones on the market.

toddler with swedish dishcloth

Reusable Paper Towels

I have a drawer full of kitchen towels that we constantly use and wash, but I still go through a lot of paper towels in our kitchen—and the cost of them adds fast, so I was looking for an alternative.

I started with the paper towel alternative known as Swedish dishcloths, which then started me down a rabbit hole of finding the best eco-friendly paper towel options. These reusable cleaning cloths can be used in all sorts of ways, they’re super absorbent (just like a paper towel) and they help to cut down on the paper products winding up in your trash can.

That means they can save us money, too, since we’re not constantly needing to buy new rolls of disposable ones.


Swedish Dishcloths

These reusable dishcloths are made from biodegradable cellulose sponge and cotton. They feel like a cross between a kitchen towel and a traditional sponge. They absorb over 20x their weight and dry incredibly fast.

We’ve been using them primarily for washing dishes and wiping down our kitchen counters, though they also work well when dry for scrubbing.

You can use the cloth full size or fold it up into a smaller size depending on what feels best.

These reusable towels are meant to be reused and washed in the washing machine or dishwasher. (Some brands even say they can be washed up to 100 times before they’ll be ready for the compost.)

They are made from cellulose and are textured when dry (so they can scrub), soft when wet (so they work well to wipe), and seriously absorbent. They’re great for cleaning up messes.

How to Use Reusable Paper Towels

My middle kiddo has been helping me a lot in the kitchen these days, and she loves to wash dishes with these reusable paper towels. Here’s our process.

  1. Wet the dishcloth with water. It is firm when dry, then becomes soft when it absorbs water.
  2. Use it with all-purpose spray to clean counters.
  3. To wash dishes, we fill up a big bowl with warm soapy water. Dip the cloth into the water, scrub the dishes, then set aside to rinse. Set the clean dishes to dry in the drying rack.
  4. Hang the towel up to dry.

TIP: This is a simple way to teach kids to wash dishes. Just maybe put a few extra towels down to catch any excess water!

images of reusable paper towels in grid of 4.

Brands of Reusable Paper Towels to Try

Swedish Wholesale: This was the first brand we tried and they held up really well through repeated usage. They are sold in a pack of 10 and have been the top seller in the category on Amazon.

Superscandi: I love the muted gray palette of this design, which comes in a pack of $10. They also make patterned options if you want more interest.

Cunhill: This brand makes really fun designs (this one links to birds) and while a little more expensive than some of the plain ones, these might fit your kitchen design in a way that fills you with joy.

Wettex: This is another brand that has a few designs and is sold in a pack of 10. They say they’re the “original,” which may or may not matter to you.

TIP: The classic size for reusable paper towels is about 8×7 inches (or so), so expect them to be larger than a traditional sponge but smaller than a kitchen towel.

Can you disinfect Swedish dishcloths?

You can! They can go into the dishwasher, into the washing machine with other towels, or into the microwave. When disinfecting them in the microwave, you want them to be damp (never dry, which could be a fire hazard), and heat for 1-2 minutes.

They will be hot when done, so use caution when removing from the microwave.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you store reusable paper towels to dry?

Squeeze them out as much as you can to remove all of the extra water, then hang over the towel rack, over the side of your dish rack, or anywhere they have decent air circulation. They dry pretty quickly!

How long do these reusable dishcloths last?

A package of ten cloths will last from a few months to about a year. That will obviously depend on how much you use each one and for what, but they are quite durable. And the thing I love about them perhaps the most is that it’s actually really easy to get all of the bits of food off of them, so you don’t have to worry about cheese, dough, or eggs sticking to them!

Do reusable paper towels really work?

Yes, this style of cellulose-based reusable paper towel is absorbent and easy to use in place of traditional paper towels.

How do you wash reusable paper towels?

After using, you can rinse in running water, then hang to dry. (They dry very quickly.) You can also disinfect in the microwave for a minute as needed.

How to Clean the Kitchen Fast

Here’s a quick look at a clean kitchen checklist if you want to get into a more efficient routine of quickly cleaning up the kitchen after meals and snacks with your family.

  1. Pick up everything off the floor that doesn’t belong in the room.
  2. Bring all dirty dishes to the sink.
  3. Wash all dishes with a reusable paper towel and set aside to dry.
  4. Wipe down the counters.
  5. Hang up your dishcloth and towels to dry.
  6. Sweep or vacuum the crumbs.

Best Tips for Reusable Paper Towels

  • Have on hand to use in place of traditional paper towels.
  • Use dry to scrub and wet to wipe.
  • Rinse after each use and hang to dry.
  • Disinfect occasionally either for 1-2 minutes in the microwave, or add to a load in the dishwasher or washing machine.

I’d love to hear any feedback or questions you might have on incorporating more reusable cleaning products into your kitchen. Please comment below to share!

This post was first published April 2020.

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  1. Was hoping you would tell us how they do on little hands and little faces? I want to replace papertowels at the dinner table.

  2. I like that you said that cloth can depend on the usage when talking about durability. My mother told me that she is looking for an environment-friendly dishcloth that she will use for her kitchen. Thanks to this informative article, I’ll be sure to tell her that she can try buying the Swedish dishcloth as they are 100% natural.