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josie's avatar

Is it better to use paper towels, or keep laundering cheap hand towels?

Asked by josie (29298points) 4 weeks ago

I don’t like using paper towels.

So I buy cheap white hand towels and wash cloths at places like Walmart, and launder and bleach them in bulk, and use as needed.

But I have never done a cost analysis, or any other analysis that might make me think I ought to use paper towels.

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30 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Better from what point of view?

Cheaper, definitely, to use inexpensive cloth hand towels and wash them. Use them a couple dozen times until they fall apart, and replace them. (This is what I do)

But easier, of course, to use paper towels and throw them away.

jca2's avatar

I gave this a GQ because it kind of reminds me of my similar question asking people whether they use paper plates or not when they’re at home. Some might say it’s better to use real plates and then you have to wash them (hot water, etc.), and some might say it’s better to use paper plates (but of course the resources like wood and manufacturing are costly in another way).

janbb's avatar

Better for the environment to use cloth towels.

kritiper's avatar

Cloth towels are better. You don’t have to keep cutting down trees to make them, and less crap in the landfills.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Washing them is cheaper.

Zaku's avatar

I think washing is better in all ways other than perhaps convenience, and for use on oils or other things that would be a problem for a cloth towel.

I wash cloth napkins and towels with clothes etc, where I don’t think they actually cause me to use any resources to wash them that I wouldn’t already be using to wash the clothes.

flo's avatar

It depends on how often they get washed, and if they get dried in the dryer or outside on the line. What do they get used for? Do they get used for drying dishesout just of habit?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why would how often they get washed have anything to do with it?
What difference does it make if they’re dried in the dryer or outside?
I don’t even know what drying dishes has to do with anything. Dish towels are used for a lot of different things.

Zaku's avatar

If you dry towels outside rather than in an electric drier, in theory you use less electricity, conserving power and the use of resources to produce the power, and the environmental impacts of everything that goes into that.

In practice, I set my drier to timed dry at the same setting I use whether the towels are in there with my clothes or not, so I don’t think that’s actually having an effect (although my lack of precision in my drier settings is).

josie's avatar

I’m confused
Is the consensus for or against paper?

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s against paper, I think.

josie's avatar

It starts to get too complicated when I have to calculate how to set the dryer, or whether or not I am going to dry dishes, clean the cabinets, or wipe down the surfaces.
If that’s what it’s all about, I’m dropping out of the debate.

I’m sticking with washable cloths.

janbb's avatar

@josie Are you throwing in the towel, as it were?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Who would clean cabinets or wipe down services with a dish towel? I use a wash cloth for that. And why would you have to set the dryer on anything special?

josie's avatar

@Dutchess_III
See
@Zaku, @flo
They are all old wash cloths. But those guys are talking about hanging them out or drying them etc. Too much think about. If I can’t dump it in washer and dryer while I’m at the gym or something it doesn’t work for me.

jca2's avatar

Something like a wash cloth or dish rag, if it comes out of the washing machine (wrung and only damp), you can put it anywhere to dry. Hang it on a doorknob, put it on top of a jar in the kitchen, place it on the side of the tub – anything, and it will be dry in about an hour.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why not just throw ‘em in the dryer along with the rest of the load?

josie's avatar

I’ve got a bunch of them. I use them up in a couple of weeks and wash them. I don’t have enough doorknobs or jars (?) to hang them up. Plus it would make my place look stupid when my friends came over.
They’re going in the dryer with the t-shirts, jeans, and skivvies.

flo's avatar

Because towels (esp the heavy kind) take too long, too much electricity to dry. Of course you can hang them anywhere, by the way, I didn’t mean just the line outside.

JLeslie's avatar

I do both, I’m going to call it moderation. I think probably washing towels is better for the environment and cheaper, but sometimes a paper towel is just more convenient, or absorbs and dries better. Paper towels can be rough though. For the front of cabinets I use old mens undershirts. For my kitchen counters it’s most often a sponge (not the one I use to clean dishes, and paper towel to finish it off.

Zaku's avatar

@josie Ya that’s what I was saying too. And that I don’t think it makes any difference, at least in my case, whether I’m drying my cloth towels with my laundry anyway.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@flo Nobody is washing and drying the hand towels separately. They’re going in with other clothes and laundry. When you split the actual cost up between them the difference the hand towels make as far as electricity used is almost nill.

flo's avatar

@Zaku drying your laudry takes more time /power if there are towels, heavy sweaters, jeans or a blanket (the old style blanket not the micro fibre kind) in there.

Zaku's avatar

@flo In theory, yes, but as I wrote before, in practice, I don’t have the patience/attention/knowledge to try to find the minimum needed amount of drying to effectively dry my laundry (clothes), so I used Timed Dry at 60–70 minutes, which seems to be roughly enough to reliably get the usual amount of clothes I dry completely dry. But what I put in it varies by what I know wants washing at the moment, and throwing in the cloth napkins and towels is a small enough part of that, that I never adjust the amount of drying time for them unless it’s the big heavy people-drying towels, so the blame for any wasted energy is about me not being up to try to minimize drying time, not whether or not I am adding small towels and napkins to my laundry or not.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What if you don’t use the heat in the dryer and just use “fluff” mode? Would that save any energy worth taking seriously?

Zaku's avatar

Good question but I expect it’s most efficient at drying when using both the heat and the tumbling, so really finding the minimum amount of time, and the best load (too much load means very slow/inefficient drying) would be most efficient.

And of course, air drying on a clothesline in the sun when possible.

flo's avatar

Dry the heaver things on the closthsline, etc, not in dryer if you can, just for the environment not to save $.

LadyMarissa's avatar

IF you use dryer sheets when drying your clothes, you might want to consider drying the towels seperate without the dryer sheets as the so-called experts now say that dryer sheets block the absorption we expect in our towels & makes them less efficient. Just saying.

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