May 26, 2011

Cleaning and Living without Papertowels for a Change

I spent the day cleaning the house. I cleaned because family from the UK are arriving for a two-week stay.  Six hours worth of cleaning. Although, some of the time was invested as it was spent organizing, and that I'm happy about.

The cleaning part itself seems more like a waste of life energy, especially if it goes over 45-mins.  The first 45-mins once or twice a week are finely spent. Because the return on the investment is a nice looking home and the pride of being the maker of said nice looking home. It even gives my ADD a little thrill. But time beyond an hour or two a week cleaning house is just loss of life in my opinion.

Also, using old cloths to clean was FUN. It's much more encouraging than the bygone era of cleaning with paper towels (can you believe I did that? Oh, it's sad to think of it now.) Cleaning with paper towels uses LOTS of them, and is just unpleasant. 

So the guests arrive and life starts happening, water is spilt on the kitchen floor, a small pile of crumbs missed the trash bin, and my dog ate a steak bone, which the remnants of then needed picked up off the floor. In the past for all these occasions, a paper towel has been the go to weapon and the convenience. And in the frenzy of the moment (with guests) and not being "used to" dealing with these little issues in another manner, I felt somewhat helpless. I wanted to reach for the old familiar wasteful piece of paper towel. But I didn't. What I did was grab a lightly used piece of cloth (cut up old clothing) and attempt to remind myself that while this feels wrong...even wasteful, it's not. The reusable cloth towel *feels wasteful* --isn't that strange? My mind is so used to thinking cloth = use 1-time, then it's dirty and needs washing. And that process feels wasteful. But the reality, and I'm still telling my mind this, is that the cloth is not only not wasteful, but it shouldn't be used just one-time before washing. That's why I've created a gently used towel space in the first place. But I need training and repetition, lots and lots until I can create my new normal. But that takes time. And I won't lie, it hurts a little. I could see it in my husbands eyes. He wanted to reach for a paper towel more than once this evening. The stress of being thrown off your routine by outside factors, while also attempting to incorporate a new lifestyle change--ain't easy. But we did make it through. And we didn't use the PTs (we still have some in the cupboard awaiting a time of real need--like a gallon of oil being spilled).


  1. Ha! I too have a limited attention span when it comes to cleaning. Especially when I have to vacuum... don't know why but I just HATE that thing!

    I have pretty much broken myself of the paper towel habit, with the exception of really really goopy piles of cat barf. Although I just use the paper towel to get up the bulk of the... um... "solids" and then I find that a cloth rag really works better for scrubbing the carpet because it doesn't disintegrate.

    And I know this part will sound totally crazy, but it really helps me to have a nice big absorbent cloth to use as a kitchen rag, and to use it with warm soapy water. It makes me feel like I'm in a fancy restaurant or something. Crazy, I know, but whatever works right?

    My stepmother is from Germany and she uses something she calls a "floor rag", apparently it's what they used when she was a kid in Germany. It's basically a big thick rag that is designed to live in a corner of the floor. When you spill something you just use your foot to wipe it up. I'll have to find out what they are really called.

  2. Hey ECL,

    I love the idea of a floor rag...and I totally get the fancy restaurant feeling of using a luxurious feeling absorbent cloth on dishes, etc.

    Thanks for your ideas...

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  4. Congratulations on going paper-towel-free!I have a whole system for reusing reusable cloths more than once. I installed an old-fashioned kitchen towel rack (the kind with swinging arms) in my kitchen. I have one or two cloths going at any given time for counter wipe-ups. Every single time I use it, I rinse it, squeeze it, and hang it up on the towel rack. At the end of the day, it goes in the laundry bin, along with dirty dish towels (which I hang on the dishwasher and over rails during the day).

    For wiping up very greasy stuff, I use rags. Grease is hard to wash out and gets rancid in the cloth. I have a stack of rags (old clothes, deceased bath/hand towels, very stained kitchen towels and cloths)in a basket that I use for gross jobs. Most of these I can wash and reuse.

    Have you discovered microfiber cloths? They are my new best friend! Dry, they are perfect for wiping down stainless-steel appliances and oil-spatters on the stove. They pick up smears better than paper towels.(Again, they must be dry to do this.)

    I moved my paper towel roll under the sink to be out of sight.(Like EcoCatLady, I do use them to clean up animal barfs. But then I use a rag to blot up any liquids that have soaked into the carpet fibers.)