front porch trash

front porch trash

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Don’t you get tired of spending your hard earned money on something that will be in the trash in 5 minutes?  I know I do.

That’s why I decided to do something about the problem.

Now, if you know my SweetiePie you know that change is not a word that is in his vocabulary. You have to sneak something new in under the radar.

Step one was talking up the cost of paper towels and how much they had gone up in price since the last time I bought a multi-roll pack. Their quality was not what it used to be, they were getting thinner and you automatically used more towels to make up the difference. Blah…blah…

Now if there is one thing that makes SweetiePie take notice it is $$$$$$$. He likes to hang on to it until it dies of old age.

Step two was going through my thrifted sheets and finding some that would be suitable. Did I mention I like yard sales and thrift stores and I can usually pick up sheets for next to nothing? Twins, $1-2, Double/Queen $1-3 and Kings $1-4. Now I don’t buy just any sheets. I check them out, and the sellers, to make sure that there are no unwanted critters lurking about and no stains of any kind.

 Step three is the washing and soaking. First, a good washing in my homemade laundry soap. (Made with my homemade lye soap, kinda like my Grandma’s) Then a nice long line dry in the sun. Then at least 2 more washings, bleach included, and 2 more drying in the sun. Then they are ready for the shreddin’.

Step four is shreddin’ or tearing the sheets into 12 inch squares. Most sheets are cotton; at least you want cotton ones for paper towels. Cotton tears straighter than you could ever cut it and tearing is much quicker that cutting. Flannel makes a more absorbent paper towel.

Step five, the sewing machine. I have an overlock but it causes me to cuss like a sailor every time I use it, so I try to avoid its use. Instead, I just run a tight zig zag around all four sides of the square. If you let the right zig stitch just off the edge of the fabric and the left zag dig into the fabric it catches all of the stray strands of fabric and fraying is not an issue. The last time I used a queen sized sheet and ended up with 55 paper towels. With different size sheets there are usually some squares that will be less than 12 inches. It’s ok. I won’t come to your house and measure your paper towels

After sewing all of the edges I toss them in the wash again. Helps to shrink the stitching and we have cats. Need I say more?

I have an old enamel pan that I keep my paper towels in, folded neatly in half in exactly the same spot that the old roll of paper towels used to sit.                      

I also have a special spot in the laundry room to put the soiled ones. Some folks keep a bucket under the sink, but let’s face it, that is full of junk and cleaners and I just didn’t want to clean it out.
It didn’t take long for SweetiePie to adjust. Once the savings were added up. And it helps to keep referring to the fabric towels as paper towels. A bit of mind over matter. It doesn't matter what you call them as long as you use them!!

I do keep a roll of paper towels for things like draining bacon and if the cat throws up. You have to draw the line somewhere.

I draw the line at reusable toilet paper.
 No, no way, no how……


  1. why not just use rags? Why are you bothering to hem them?

    1. I don't really hem them, just run the serger around them to keep the loose threads from coming off and clogging up the wash and make them look neater. I use rags to clean with also but mostly old towels and t shirts.

  2. I love this idea! I googled "homemade paper towels" and found your blog. I have a couple of old cotton sheets that are girly colors and I have all this is the perfect way to put them to use! I've never thought of tearing the sheets before, though,....maybe it will be just like tearing muslin.

    So instead of actually folding the fabric over for a just do the stitch around the edge?

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. If you do a tight, wide zig zag around all four edges it keeps them from fraying in the wash and they last longer. Zig on the fabric (left) and zag off the edge of the fabric (right) and it catches all of the stray threads.
    The only bad thing about tearing the sheets is the stray strings that take forever to find the end of. It is just like tearing muslin!!
    Good luck with your sheets.

  4. Great idea! I also googled "homemade paper towels" and found this. Would you mind if I pin this on

  5. Thank you! The snap towels I've seen on Pinterest are cute and all, but this is so much more realistic! I looooooove making things out of 2nd-hand material.

  6. Thanks for the idea of the zig-zag finishing. I am going to try this by also making some more heavy-duty towles with terry cloth on one side and flannel on the other.