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Where do you have your paper towels?

Alice Johannen
9 years ago

We are busy building our Ikea cabinets for the kitchen remodel that'll start in August. Meanwhile, it occurs to me I haven't figured out where everything is going to "live" in the new configuration, especially the paper towels. We currently have them hanging under one of the cabinets near the sink. But in the new kitchen, the sink will be in an island, flanked on one side by the DW and on the other side by a 36" wide drawer cabinet.

Where should I consider keeping them? In one of those stand-up thingies on the island? Behind the island near the stove (but away from the flames)? Where do you keep yours?

Comments (67)

  • andreak100
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Alice - there are certainly times to use paper towels. Don't get me wrong. But, the times I use them, it's not really any worse fetching them from under the kitchen sink. I have a plastic splatter guard that I use in the microwave and like it a lot more than I did paper towels.

    Marcolo - I use paper towels to a limited basis to cook. Most of the meats I cook are marinated, and no, I don't dry them and they brown up great. I don't use much oil when I cook (and no, I'm not using non-stick pans, just a small drizzle of oil is sufficient), so there's no need to drain off the oil. We don't have "batches" when I cook, all goes in to cook at the same time. Berries don't stay in the fridge long enough to mold. I don't use dried mushrooms, so that's not a worry for me.

    I've been limited-paper-towels for the past 25 to 30 years, so it has nothing to do with it being the height of fashion. It's how I opted to do things. It has nothing to do with "pinning a badge on myself". We make choices. EVERY choice has it's advantages and pitfalls. But, I will say that I won't spew venom on people who opt to do things differently than what I do. I offered what I do as an option. I don't say it works for everyone or that everyone should do it my way. If paper towels work better your your household, all the more power to you. I'm not going to judge you for it because my choice has some downsides as well.

    So, do you use paper towels to dry your hands in your bathroom as well? I'm asking, because I really don't see using a handtowel in the kitchen as much different than using one in the bathroom and everyone I know uses handtowels in their bathroom. As near as I can tell, laundered and reused cloth towels wind up with cleaning solutions on them anyway, so I can't see how it's more unsanitary than using the cleaning solutions and a paper towel that has been hanging out in the kitchen gathering those floating germs.

  • writersblock (9b/10a)
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    >Do you not rinse meats before you cook them? Do you try to brown meat, chicken and fish while it is still wet? How do you drain oil off of items that are pan-fried? What about wiping out skillets between batches? Wiping oil onto the grate of a charcoal fire?

    Well, you know, Marcolo, partly it's the difference in how people cook these days. I hardly ever cook meat and rarely fry anything. Yes, I would use a paper towel to drain bacon or whatever if I cooked it, but I never do. I think this is the case for a great many people these days. We just don't cook like that anymore.

    Of course there are times a paper towel is the solution, but they aren't all that many, so a roll lasts a long, long time. Nobody in my house has died of ptomaine yet. :)

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  • suzanne_sl
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I just used a couple of wet paper towels yesterday for wiping off the paint that got on the Murphy Bed as I was painting the wall it's mounted on.

    marcolo - I've never rinsed and dried a piece of meat before cooking except for the inside of a whole turkey on Thanksgiving. As for the sponge comment, I've always wondered where that came from (my daughter gave me that speech several years ago). I envision a "test" where they used a sponge for wiping counters with the usual kitchen mess on them, especially raw meat juices, and then never rinsed the sponge afterwards, just set it down on the sink and left it there to incubate. This sponge would also never see a pan of soapy water or be used with a cleaner. God forbid that it would ever be put in the dishwasher or the microwave. Ideally, this sponge would also be used to wipe said meat juices onto the floor as it was used to wipe up splatters from the blender or something, and then be used with a quick cold water rinse of the dinner plates. Said sponge would also never be changed out short of 6 months of use. After 6 months the testers could swab for bacteria and other nasties and exclaim, "OMG!" when it, and all kitchen surfaces, came back positive for everything under the sun. Of course, if there were real people living in this kitchen, they would have already died of sepsis. In real life nobody with a brain or a lick of common sense uses sponges that way.

    OK, rant over.

  • Alice Johannen
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Oh dear! I had no idea this question would result in a hot debate about sponges, dish towels and paper towels (oh my!). I do think there's ample room for our PTs to be mounted inside the sink base door, where they're available but tucked out of sight. I do use them, also, for wiping up raw meat juice that gets on the counter because I don't want that in my sponges. I'm not really a germ-o-phobe but I have my limits! LOL We haven't gotten any horrendous bacterial infection from our kitchen despite letting sponges go on a little too long, but I don't want to push my luck, either.

    We do all have our preferences, and many have strong opinions about what's right, wrong, green and not-so-green. Sometimes a strongly-worded opinion sounds judgmental and isn't meant to be.

    It's a beautiful Sunday here in the Northeast. Let's fill it with beautiful support for one another in our distinct and different choices.

  • ayerg73
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Since I don't think I've seen anyone mention this before, I thought I'd share with you the rev-a-shelf pull out I use under my sink:

    I was a little disappointed in the thickness of plastic, but once I have started using it, it does the job just fine.

    I've yet to take it out, it just sits under there since I don't keep my cleaners in it - I store dishwasher soap and the like instead...

  • bellsmom
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I was going to photo my towel storage, but it is the same as ayerg, whose post is above.
    I have one of these under both the prep sink and the clean up sink, and two of them under the bathroom sink where they hold toilet paper rolls.

    Great accessible storage. Like ayerg, I take it out very seldom.

    Highly recommend it. Easy to install, easy to use.

  • gayl
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I just keep my paper towels under the sink and bring the roll out when I am cooking or cleaning. I don't like things cluttering up the counters, and I can't see the need to have them out all the time. I use a lot of cloth towels and wash them constantly.

  • ginny20
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    My cubby is shown in one of the links deedles posted above. When I was thinking about finding a home for everything, this old thread was very helpful. In it, buehl posts links to a lot of old threads.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Where do you put your paper towels, wet dishtowels, cutting boards...

  • Alice Johannen
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    The amount of information on this forum never ceases to amaze me. Thank you all so much! I don't know yet how much extra room we'll have under our sink base so time will tell whether the Rev-A-Shelf solution could work but I'm happy to know it's out there.

  • darbuka
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Every time this topic arises on this forum, I prepare for the
    "environmentally conscious" argument from those who profess
    not to use paper towels.

    I use paper towels. A lot. I also use Clorox wipes. A lot. In
    fact, I clean my counters with the wipes, and dry them off with
    paper towels.

    After my cutting board has been washed-using a blue scrubby
    sponge-I dry it off with...a paper towel.

    Like Marcolo, I rinse chicken and beef, and dry them off with...
    a paper towel.

    And, yes, while no deep frying goes on in my house, nor has
    bacon been prepared here in 20 years, I do fry eggplant in
    olive oil, and sop up the leftover oil with...a paper towel.

    Any grease left over in a pan used to bake chicken, gets wiped
    up with...a paper towel.

    For those of us with septic systems, limiting the amount of grease
    and chemicals entering the cesspools is essential. We also try to
    control our wash loads. I can only guess at the extra loads all
    those cotton or microfiber clothes would amount to, if that's
    what I used instead of paper towels.

    The underground water supply on Long Island is finite. Paper
    from reforested trees, is not. Pumping a cesspool is expensive.

    I will continue to use paper towels. A lot.

  • bellsmom
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    aliris
    The paper towel support on the Rev-a-shelf unit is adjustable. You can move it left to right as needed and anywhere in between. Under one of my sinks, it is on the left side facing in, in the other on the right facing out to clear the drains. In the bathroom, the two units are arranged so that the tp is stored on the outside walls and the drain is in the center. The trays almost meet at the bottom.

    However, there is no vertical adjustment, as I remember.

  • bellsmom
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    oops. sorry, Alicepalace, not aliris

  • andreak100
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    You know, I never intended for this to become a debate over who is more environmentally conscious. I prefer to use towels and rags for most of my household use. Therefore, I use more water and detergent.

    Others opt to use more paper towels and therefore cut down more trees and probably use more energy due to the processing and reprocessing of said paper towels. Honestly, we each have to make decisions and live with the decisions we make. Neither one of those decisions are perfect.

    I would hope that Alice has come up with several ideas as to what options are out there for where to place paper towels and what will work best for her needs in her household.

    If someone else has suggestions as to where or how they store their paper towels and/or fabric towels, etc., I believe that would be a good contribution to this thread. The political correctness or lack thereof for our choice doesn't really need to factor into it.

  • marcolo
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    You know, I never intended for this to become a debate over who is more environmentally conscious

    Exactly. Which is why I wish when OPs ask where to store paper towels, responders would try to confine themselves to answering the question. It is the exact parallel to every single thread where somebody asks about window treatments in the kitchen--"Do you like this one or that one?" The Naked Window Brigade comes out in force to rip the tearing valances out of the defending hands of the hapless OP and tries to force her to display her negligee to the piercing eyes of her neighbors. I mean, enough.

    Anyway:

    Doesn't anyone attach a holder underneath their cabinets next to the sink anymore? That is the only place I have ever stored PT and for functionality it is impossible to beat.

  • andreak100
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    marcolo - if you notice in my initial response, I said that I didn't use a lot because I used towels and rags (meaning that I'm not planning on giving up prime real estate for something I don't use so much) and that in my remodel, they will live under the sink. So, actually, I did answer AND gave some info about someone who just did a kitchen with a cubby.

  • Alice Johannen
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Marcolo, I do! I currently have them mounted under the cabinet closest to the sink. But there ain't gonna be no cabinet next to the sink in my new arrangement. Otherwise, I'd have probably never even thought to ask -- I'd have just mounted them up under the cabinet like I always have. :-)

  • marcolo
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    alicepalace, do you have a link with your layout? What style are you doing?

    I ask because I've seen cool vintage paper roll dispensers originally designed to dispense butcher paper in a meat shop, or some other industrial use, repurposed as paper towel holders. What's interesting is that they seem to hold the towels up, not as high as an undercounter dispenser but close enough. So maybe they'd function as well for you.

    Like this thing on eBay now, but less complicated.

  • suzanne_sl
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    In the old kitchen, I had an undercabinet paper towel holder just to the left of the sink (just to the right and around the L from here). It wasn't great as when I had only one hand to pull a towel, I generally had a hard time getting just one. When I got just one, the next one hung nearly to the counter top, generally dangling into things I'd rather they didn't. In the new kitchen I got one of these:

    The arm holding the roll actually holds it tight enough that I can pull one off without the rest trailing off. A a big improvement altogether.

  • gsciencechick
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    We also have the under-cabinet mount next to the sink. It used to be on the wall, but with the new BS I mounted it there. It's very convenient. We have a 15-year-old cat who vomits fairly frequently, and I could not imagine not using paper towels. I also use the select-a-size.

  • darbuka
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    "Doesn't anyone attach a holder underneath their cabinets next to the sink anymore? That is the only place I have ever stored PT and for functionality it is impossible to beat."

    I used to, and would still, but now the under cab lighting interferes.

    Instead, I use a stainless, spring loaded vertical holder, that I
    learned about on this forum. Bought it at BB&B, a few years ago.
    It's terrific, needing just one hand and a quick yank. It's fairly
    compact, so it doesn't take up much space. I keep it just to the
    left of the sink.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Perfect Tear paper towel holder

  • camphappy
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I prefer paper towels and will end up with a simple counter holder since I don't have upper cabs and don't want cabinets being open with wet hands.

    I have multiple groups of kids running in and out of my home and need paper towels for them. I can't imagine what would be on my hand towels if I didn't have paper towels. The bathroom is one thing but preparing food is another.

    I work in home health. If I am unable to use hand sanitizer, I will need to use the sink to wash my hands. I must use a paper towel to dry my hands. It would be a major health hazard if I did not. I educate the family to use paper towels vs. hand towels to decrease the spread of infections. (of course, though, I'm dealing with a family that has an ill or injured family member.)

  • aliris19
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    gsciencechick: congratulations, you win the best (and as far as I'm concerned only) argument in favor of paper towels.

    And while I see everyone's point about enjoying nice weather and being pleasantly supportive, I must say, I am enjoying this argument. True, it's been done before, but I happen to love seeing it rehashed all the same.

    Bellsmom - I'm actually here! I took a start to see my name mentioned and actually searched as to whether I'd posted and just forgotten! (don't laugh ... it'll happen to you too).

    I'm also of the haven't-used-em-in-30-years-and-never-missed-em crowd. I've never wandered around pinning badges of any sort upon thars or anyone else's for that matter. I don't quite get where the defensiveness comes from when someone explains their thinking behind a (or rather, this) certain style of living. It's a conscious choice, often, and made by balancing complicated costs and benefits. It could be wrong, but often -- as elucidated by, say, camphappy and gsciencechick, there are various personal scenarios that change this tradeoff for everyone. Presumably, for example, Marcolo steeps himself in bacon grease regularly and while I have on, probably 2 occasions that I can remember, cooked bacon and used towels for the grease, even amortized over thirty years I don't think I'd want to do it any more frequently. I've used cloth towels on potato latkes too and it seemed to work. I don't quite get why washing these things is any more or less gross than using a paper towel that runs through god-knows-where en route to your home. Not to mention actually *eating* all that grease. And BTW, those wonderful 100% cotton cloth diapers are still readily available - even target carries em, but online there's a thriving cottage industry in cotton diapers. (Marcolo: shhh. I'm just saying).

    Germs happen. really. A lot. There are a lot of very bad germs out there right now all over everything in your reach. Fortunately you have an immune system.

    I worked on a study once testing the pathogens on surfaces. Basically, the take-home message is surfaces can't be cleaned shy of extremely caustic chemicals and/or processes, ever. This product we were testing was being marketed to hospitals. And while my understanding is that physical abrasion (aka rubbing) can often go a long way toward getting a surface relatively clean, clean just isn't gonna happen. Probably, if you want to help your health you'd be better off getting some sleep (ahem ... I'll likely be up all night tonight) to assist your own immune system's functioning rather than rack up the paper towels. So to speak.

    That's my personal take on it, but I'm old enough to have figured out that even if I cared to, I couldn't change your mind about any of these weirdly emotional issues anyway; like andrea, I'm more or less fine with whatever you choose even if it's different from my choice....

    Except, to be perfectly honest -- this is precisely why I was so enjoying the argument. Because andrea had the courage to express her own "choice" - while carefully within the context of actually answering the d--- question -- because andrea found a way to answer the OP and yet also express her own 'conscious' decision regarding this matter ("none of the above"), she found a way to respectfully offer her own alternative without stepping on toes or somehow moralizing. That's how I read it. And then when the OP graciously offered to think about this alternative, I sat in my chair and silently cheered! There are an awful lot of ways to skin a cat and a perfectly good one of them, it seems to me, is to abstain from any skinning whatsoever. When someone asks: "where do you put the paper towels", what's wrong with saying "I don't"?

    That said, I think those in-cabinet types are really nifty. As far as I'm concerned, shy of forgoing the whole matter, I think the most important issue is that whatever you choose, wherever you choose it, that it permit one-handed towel ripping. Some of those cheap-o under-the-counter varieties mentioned above were good because they were such poor quality, just squeezing-together plastic, that they prevented the rolls from whipping about, a good thing.

    Just for completeness, let me note that I have become a paper towel consumer in the past couple years. DD paints with oils and I'm told having paper towels is "necessary". It crossed my mind to wonder why rags would not do, but I looked at my daughter and bit my tongue. She pretty clearly did not want to discuss "alternatives" for this, so I decided to just pass on the argument. I'm pretty sure oil paintings were successfully completed prior to the Age Of Paper Towel, but sometimes abstinence is the better part not only of choice, as noted above, but of combat as well not to mention the more conventional, say, valor.

  • springroz
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Aliris, what a wonderful post, and thank you!

    I prefer a standing rack, so I can take the roll directly to a pet or Grandma emergency....we have many of both around here!

    Nancy

  • idrive65
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I use a lot of select-a-size Bounty, and I want them handy. For that reason I don't have a stationary hanging-or-holding device for them. The roll stands in the corner next to the microwave for instant portability to wherever they're needed. White paper towels next to white MW in front of white back splash isn't so noticeable.

    I use them for, well, everything! Cleaning, drying, wiping, etc. But I don't care what anyone else does. We can go round and round on the merits of saving the trees vs. the water supply. (I remember having this same debate elsewhere about cloth vs. disposable diapers...)

  • bellsmom
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I hope this isn't redundant, but. . .

    Notice in these three sink cabinets how versatile the units are: positioned left, right, center; facing left or right.
    Also, in the bathroom, I had to position one more forward than the other to clear pipes at the back.
    Anyway, FWIW:
    Kitchen cleanup sink. Notice towel rack is moved to left of the right edge of the base to clear disposal switch, and the towel tray faces right to clear the garbage disposal


    Kitchen prep sink closed;

    Kitchen prep sink pulled out:


    Bathroom sink units pushed back (note uneven front and side to side spacing of two units to clear back pipes as well as center pipes.


    Bathroom sink open:

    I am so pleased with the accessibility and versatility of this rev-a-shelf product. And it was almost half price at Home Depot, so I went kinda crazy.

  • aliris19
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Bellsmom - those do look great. And for the record, lots of those RevAShelf items are available online at severe discounts; I don't know how their price there compares with HD. But note that when I had cabinets custom done, and included some revashelf items, I could not talk the maker into letting me buy the inserts online for less and just forking them over. He used the retail price as a way of pricing the installation. That seemed fair enough, sort of. Some of those installations are a complete *bear*; others super-easy.

    Bellsmom - with apologies for possibly hijacking this thread -- could you please tell me whether you like those slatted cabinet doors? Do you feel they are helpful underneath the sink or, say, on a linen closet?

    I don't even know in what forum I should be asking that question.

    Thanks.

  • marcolo
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    aliris, take three seconds to Google "paper towels vs. cloth" or the like. You'll see a hundred pages of websites where those who use cloth towels pin plenty of badges on each other, and offer thousands of suggestions for going "paper-free." Tell me when you get to the first page with any objective information comparing the actual impact of using paper towels versus cloth towels.

    And really, why not go toilet paper-free? You can use bidets and a washcloth, you know.

    BTW it's obviously not about bacon grease. You can't make beouf bourgignon or caramelize scallops unless you dry them. You can use cloth--it's the way Julia first did it--but then you have to launder that cloth immediately afterwards.

  • taggie
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Paper towel junkies here. We use so many that we have them out on both counters; by the range for me and at the beverage area for family. Can't beat the upright towel holders for function IMO. Used to have cabinet mounted one in our old kitchen but I prefer the countertop ease of access.

    Man, that does look a bit pathetic. But you gotta function to live I guess.

  • gldngrl61
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I just bought, from Amazon, a paper towel holder that sticks on to the cabinet under the sink. Finally off the countertop. That said, I have never used as many paper towels as I do now that I have granite counters. What does everyone use to dry their counters of not paper towels. Regular towels and microfiber towels just don't dry the counter and leave streaks.

  • aliris19
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    And really, why not go toilet paper-free? You can use bidets and a washcloth, you know.

    OK, against my better judgment I just gotta respond to this.

    My sil is Indian and I will always remember being told long ago, in hushed confession-style, that when she first came to this country she was deeply, utterly horrified by our disgusting - to her - practice of using paper toilet paper. Her point was that her country's way of doing things was so much cleaner, using water to clean and bathe one's body and culturally sanctioning the use of one's left hand, which performed these ablutions, from contacting food (course dd asks: what do left-handed people do?)

    Like you I'm guessing, my first reaction was an equally deep shudder: ewwwww, using your hand? But you know ... she does have a point. How is it cleaner just sort of mashing that stuff around, which is what happens with paper toilet paper?

    OK ... maybe we're seriously hijacking the thread now.

    But the point is, this is a cultural war, really. Convention and culture. You can make obeisance to the underlying argument about environmental consciousness and somehow doing the 'right thing', whatever that is, resource-wise. As you point out, these sorts of calculations as to which is more responsible, are difficult at best. I know this subject rather intimately. And that sil's brother happens to have a huge career trying to make such calculations as well. They are not easy, to say the least.

    So the cloth:paper diaper issue and the cloth:paper towel issue just like the cloth:paper bag issue and the electric:coal power issue and all the rest... these are tough calls. It is not the case that their discussion is being undertaken devoid of data or evidence. But it is true that this is not the place to hash it out! (I guess). But as someone committed lifelong to environmental "consciousness", I'll be the first to admit these are questions answered, in essence, of emotion. I have no problem washing towels imediately. With a young family that dratted washing machine, churning as I type, goes practically 24/7 as is (speaking of environmental dysfunction). If you explode out all the energy or resources steps from "seed to rag", I honestly have absolutely no idea which would come out ahead.

    But that doesn't stop me from acting on the problem best I can, even if it amounts to just being an aesthetic choice. I don't think there's anything more knee-jerk correct about opting for paper over washing cloth. Someone, maybe, knows the "true" answer to which is less environmentally costly for my specific spot on the planet - because all of these cost:benefit analyses would really have to go right down to that level in many cases, that's how close the calls may be (and variable the parameters). But because such data is nearly impossible to obtain doesn't mean (a) no one is trying (as well they should be) or (b) no one is making claims data-free all the same. ... not to mention (c) the social crassness of one set of people moralizing about scientifically ambivalent claims negating any sense of responsibility from those with equally data-free hunches to temper their prejudices.

    Hmmm.... I'd better jump off this soapbox. What were we supposed to be talking about? Paper towels: it is in fact a viable option to forgo them. Even, I believe, for dishes such as beef bourguignon and carmelized scallops. The latter I know gets done by just allowing enough time for the things to air-dry. No biggie, just a little planning. Same, I'm guessing, for the beef. But that's a cultural, lifestyle difference we're talking about. Say, organizing in time for these air-drying steps. It's a gestalt-thing. Maybe .... give it a try just for fun? Just sayin.... ;)

    p.s. using a bidet would be really gross: no outflow. Definitely TMI now!

    Back to your regularly scheduled GW-programming...

  • aliris19
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    p.p.s. i have nothing against bidets as a cleaning tool, just as a waste-disposal one.

    Taggie, your kitchen is breathtaking. Paper towels and all ;)

    Marcolo: one last point before dinner burns... I'm OK with you using paper towels, just not you imagining that someone who doesn't is inherently passing judgement on you who does, by definition. Life's more complicated than that.

  • andreak100
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Oh. My. All I can say at this point is that I've thought about paper towels A LOT more often in the past few days than I have in my entire life combined.

    I must say that this has taught me that I probably should file paper towels away in my "Do not broach subject at parties" file.

  • ginny20
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Actually, it could liven up the party! Like discussions of gay marriage, gun control, health insurance, or whether you should drive with your dog in a crate on the roof of your car.

  • marcolo
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    No, aliris, it's not a cultural-lifestyle thing. It's the difference between people who do things to follow fads, and people who think about what they do. Between people who might be interested in making a difference, perhaps, and people who just want to make a gesture. It's that blunt. Witness the humiliating embarrassment of paper-bag demanders at supermarkets when it came out they are no more environmentally friendly than plastic bags. You yourself admit there is no evidence whatsoever that paper towels are worse for the environment than laundering and relaundering and relaundering cloth towels. Yet we are all called upon to admire the cloth users. In those pages after pages after pages I pointed you to on Google, it's not the paper towel users who are evangelizing, if you notice. Using dishtowels is a personal preference, not a virtue to be admired. Sometimes people tire of being preached to.

  • marcolo
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Not to beat a dead horse, but compare how much more useful this interesting thread is regarding greeny goodness than all those 10,000 Google hits for going PT-"free."

  • aliris19
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    "You yourself admit there is no evidence whatsoever that paper towels are worse for the environment than laundering and relaundering and relaundering cloth towels"

    Nope. I said it is difficult to make such a calculation and highly dependent on specifics to boot, as these specifics are highly variable (e.g. - where I live municipal water can and does come from multiple different sources at different times and times of the year, ranging from ground water to stolen surface water, some pumped thousands of miles, some not, etc, etc. Not only does it change but you cannot know -- as far as I can tell no one even knows moment to moment where-all it is coming from. You can get mixtures of it as well. Even, from multiple municipalities. And what "type" of water this is factors heavily into such equations).

    You will never find me stating there is no evidence that paper towels are worse for the environment. I will say that the cost:benefit comparison is hopelessly complex ... but that we none of us can afford to have no hope, so we do our best. What I said, for the record, is "If you explode out all the energy or resources steps from "seed to rag", I honestly have absolutely no idea which [paper or cloth] would come out ahead."

    Nor, I might add, until you make a current study of this highly complex subject, do you.

    But it's easy to wrap our prejudices in pseudo-scientific claims while in reality, they are simply socio-cultural convictions.

    So - alicepalace.... my apologies for ruining your good-faith search for the perfect paper towel solution evermore!!! What was that towel pig? Anyone have a link to that? ;)

    Many are fond of these
    Maybe someone has a link to the archtypal towel pig -- is it circuspeanuts? I can't remember... Here's a link with a reference to the original towel pig link in it only I can't seem to find it in there - this goes way back to 2008, long before my time. But there is a picture of a towel pig.

    Which leads me to my final two points on the subject: (1) That pig is cuter than I'd remembered and (2) I'll allow that als6w is spot-on -- I actually did open all those threads which definitely certifies me beyond TKO and into the insane.

    Still ... buehl, where is that original towel pig thread? Any chance of letting us newbies read it? I'm now officially intrigued. Why couldn't a towel pig house a roll of paper towels?

  • marcolo
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    "If you explode out all the energy or resources steps from "seed to rag", I honestly have absolutely no idea which [paper or cloth] would come out ahead."

    Nor, I might add, until you make a current study of this highly complex subject, do you.

    You are missing the elephant in the room.

    If you want to make a claim, it's up to you to prove it. Not up to me to disprove it.

    I never launched a crusade to persuade people to go cloth-towel free, or created hundreds of websites featuring ideas for using more paper towels. We paper towel users are not running around claiming paper towels are better for the environment. It's the paper towel-"free" people who did all these things--without a shred of evidence that they are right. It's not just that they lack proof for their assertion. It's that no one even tried to prove it.

    If there's ever been a failure to disprove the null, this is it. But it's easy to wrap our prejudices in pseudo-scientific claims while in reality, they are simply socio-cultural convictions.

    You just described the paper towel-"free" set to a T. But it's not symmetrical. Paper towel users are making no claims at all, pseudo-scientific or otherwise.

    If it turns out that laundry is worse for the environment that paper towel usage, then "doing something" may turn out to be doing harm.

  • darbuka
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    With most of this country suffering through severe drought, and
    many others experiencing drought considered extreme, is it
    REALLY environmentally sound practice to increase water usage
    in the home?

    Hmmm.

    Here is a link that might be useful: U.S. Drought Monitor

  • noellabelle
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I keep a basket of "unpaper" towels on my counter. They're 2 pieces of coordinating flannel that I serged together. I've had them for almost 2 years, and they're holding up fine. I rarely use paper towels, and we also use cloth tissues and napkins....I cloth diapered my kids, so I just started to prefer cloth to paper. You can see kind of see in the hallway that I have a wicker basket; that's where we put the used ones in, and I wash them with the towels. It makes probably less than a load a week extra.

    I think it's a total personal preference. I just like the feel of cloth better, we don't have drought conditions in my area, and water is included with my condo fee. So I feel that we overall save money and I like it better anyway.

  • CEFreeman
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    hhhheeeeeehhheee

    I lived in Algeria for a while. In Algiers.
    The plumbing was iffy, and there wasn't any hot water unless it was boiled.
    The ladies washed clothes in the bidet. But then, they sprayed the rooms of the house at night with DDT to get rid of the flies -- from the garden below that was fertilized with human waste. Yes, I almost died from dysentery. Someday I'll tell you my story of how I got out of the country.

    Paper towels: I have them everywhere. They're great for cat hair balls.

    My most wonderful cat in the world won't use a little box. I've resorted to containing her, taping heavy black plastic down on the hardwood floors (she's probably ruined), and balling up paper towels onto the plastic, which she happily pees on.

    I have dish towels. I use them for wiping hands and other, already clean things. Paper towels are for getting the dirty clean.

    I saw a news show once (48 hours? 60 minutes?) that had a woman travel through her normal day, from breakfast to after dinner. She was meticulous about washing out her sponge (I think. Might be a rag.) and wiping everything down. She was careful about her chicken dinner, etc. Her kitchen and child looked sparkling clean.

    Then they brought in a light. Maybe a black light. Her entire kitchen GLOWED blue. In wipe marks along cabinets, refrigerators, table, everywhere. Including her kid's face, where his nose would run (can't remember if allergies or a cold) and he'd blow his nose and, like young kids, use his sleeve.

    The woman almost killed herself in tears she was so upset and probably mortified. Her pride in her clean home fell before science.

    I admit they then went thru the hows and whys of the germ spreading and what she should be doing, but I didn't care and don't think I watched it.

    I am old enough that I grew up before they invented germs. Shoot. After dysentery in the middle East? What's gonna kill me now?

  • claybabe
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    My name is Claybabe, and I use paper towels.

    In college, 100 years ago, I realized that my decision to use cloth exclusively was complex and flawed: I couldn't afford paper towels and I couldn't afford to do laundry. Sometimes I just was too busy working and going to school (and yes, playing) to think carefully about my every move, and believe me, I was living in the midst of intense political and groovy pressure to behave a certain way so this was shocking to me and felt like abject failure.

    We lived in rural Turkey, somewhat less than 100 years ago. The people were very clean, despite mostly dirt floors among my friends. I became comfortable with the water spigot/hand method, even though soap was not commonly available. We rarely had both water and electricity, so I often did the laundry by hand (the water often had an oil based red paint emulsion in it so I didn't really have anything white after a short while), which may be akin to cleaning your sponge IYKWIM. No paper towels. Really, it was fine: I was younger and more adaptable then. And the only time I ever got sick was from a Mayonnaise sauce my husband warned me against eating in a fancy restaurant in the capital.

    I am in the camp that the actual cost of resources is usually not fully evaluated, understood, or even knowable. We all make the best choices we can, and I agree that often the media and peer pressure push us to think we are making the right kind of difference when we really are not. Probably utilizing the World Wide Web to think about and look at kitchens, and occasionally get involved in a little debate, is not a great use of either my personal resources or the world's, but I really enjoy it. Then again, I have come to embrace (at least some of) my flaws as I have aged. And I keep my paper towels handy on the counter.

  • claybabe
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    And I would LOVE to hear how you got out of the country, CEFreeman!!

  • ginny20
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Me too, CEFreeman, although when we say "get out of the country" it makes it sound like you were a prisoner. Like "Abduction from the Seraglio" only with less singing. I do hope you weren't actually a prisoner, except, perhaps, of circumstance.

    I imagine the experience you describe would make you keenly aware of simple joys like convenient cleaning methods.

    Does anyone else have a Bounty Paper towels ad over on the side of this thread? They must just find the key words, then link the ad, never mind that it is a thread where their utility is being questioned. Kind of funny.

  • a2gemini
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    My mother had insets along the wall. Not sure if the are made anymore

  • aliris19
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    "My name is Claybabe, and I use paper towels. "

    lol!

    More stories, more stories!!

    Which is, btw, part of my point -- these decisions get made, ultimately, in the deep context of background and experiences. In part because the surface-situation of strict cost:benefit analyses are so complex and subject to error. The decision is +/- binary in the end, but the inputs are so complicated.... in the end most of us are moved, consciously or otherwise, with what "feels" right -- we go with how we've been moved by or own stories, the more objective route being blocked.

    So, for example, my own experiences leave me ultimately feeling that washing, i.e., scrubbing, is cleaner than wiping, which is what happens with towels. It's pretty much a direct result of that eye-opening conversation with an Indian about personal hygiene. As well as seeing those tests that showed sponge and towel cleaning were completely insignificant in terms of resulting sterility; it mattered *how* you used those tools, not which one you used.

    Christine - you must know I pretty well hang on your every word. Maybe we should start a side-discussion (that pink forum) about our kitchen-cooking motivators. (I too got sick recently from a mayonnaise-based dressing that had been sitting on a table top in Polynesia: honestly, what was I thinking? These experiences negate thousands of little cloth-paper decisions for magical cleanliness insurance. It just takes once.)

    Ginny20 -- I highly recommend AdBlock Plus! It was recommended to me from someone on this forum. It's a free download and it's just stopped all that nonsense here and elsewhere. Love it... (though I thought paper towels were coming out pretty-ahead this time in this discussion? All the cat innards images amount to a really good data point in that camp to me....)

  • lolauren
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    First, aliris, I think I love you.

    "And then when the OP graciously offered to think about this alternative, I sat in my chair and silently cheered! There are an awful lot of ways to skin a cat and a perfectly good one of them, it seems to me, is to abstain from any skinning whatsoever. When someone asks: "where do you put the paper towels", what's wrong with saying "I don't"?"

    Because of threads like these, I went from using paper towels to using cloth towels, only. Previously, I really never thought about it and used paper towels because... everyone else did/it was normal. This board planted a little seed in my head, which was enough to convert me.

    I do not use cloth towels for any environmental reasons. I make most of my decisions because I'm cheap. :) I'd rather reuse something I already own than buy a product I don't really need. So, I don't have to buy paper towels, and I don't have to pay for them to be thrown away.

    We rarely reuse cloth towels unless they were only used to dry something. They go straight in the laundry, in an adjacent room. A weeks worth of towels might take up the same room as a t-shirt in the wash... so there is no way one can argue the towels increase my water consumption. (I'm on a septic, so I do pay attention to that.)

    I agree with others that Marcolo and others obviously cook differently. I have never cooked a scallop, and I don't even know what that beef dish is he mentioned. Anyway, I don't need paper towels to cook. So what if someone else does; I don't care!! I don't think there is anything wrong from mentioning there could be an alternative to people, though..... I benefited from someone else mentioning it, after all.

    Finally... to the OP: my cloth towels live in a drawer. When I had paper towels, they lived under the sink.

  • Bunny
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    My situation's similar to darbuka's. I would have my kitchen paper towel roll mounted under the upper cab if it were not now occupied by under-cab lights. So it instead sits upright on the counter, not really taking up space that I need for anything else. I don't mind how it looks.

    I freely admit to being a fan of paper towels. I have three indoor cats and I would not want to touch a hairball with anything that wasn't going to be thrown away.

  • ginny20
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thanks for the tip, aliris! I'll go look for it.

    CEFreeman - we're still waiting for the Algiers story.

    In addition to the roll of paper towels in its cubby, I also have a drawer full of various types of dishtowels. (I'm an equal opportunity polluter.) The best ones are hand made by my friend Monica, the one with the great kitchen I talk about a lot. They seem to be made of something like soft, thin cotton sheeting, and she does a cross stitch design in one corner. There is nothing like them for drying glassware, or pretty much anything else. They're the most absorbent towels I have, and being so thin they dry quickly. I hope she gives me more for Christmas.

  • Alice Johannen
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    OP here. Thank you for the entertaining debate and for sharing all of your ideas and alternatives. I had forgotten that undercab lights were why we couldn't mount our paper towels there in our old house.

    Ginny, your friend Monica should make us all some super-absorbent towels. I could use some of those!

  • desertsteph
    9 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    "force her to display her negligee to the piercing eyes of her neighbors"

    they'll go blind. That'll teach 'em!

    well, my neighbors would. They're a few acres away, so good luck to 'em anyway.

    I use both PT and cloth. lots of PT - cheap ones 'cause I'm cheap. I'd use cloth more except I don't have a W/D here so I have to go to a laundromat about 30 miles away. I do use some rags and microfiber for cleaning around the house and I wash them up in a sink, rinse and hang to dry. They get a major cleaning when I get to the laundromat. I don't use them for anything scarey tho.

    I'm using a cheap white plastic old type holder screwed to the side of the cabinet to the right of my sink. It's handy and not taking up counter space (I have little). Couldn't put it under a cabinet because it'd either block an outlet or be in the spot I plan to put my mw. I would like to find a nicer holder to replace the white plastic one eventually - until then it does the job.

    I do plan to put a plastic holder in each bathroom on the inside of a cabinet door.