How to Make Your Own Reusable Paper Towels

It's time to ditch single-use rolls for good.

Whether you use them to wipe up spills or dry off your washed produce, it's easy to quickly reach for a paper towel in the kitchen. But it turns out, the convenience may not be worth the environmental impact. Americans use more than 13 billion pounds of paper towels each year—and since most paper towels are not recyclable, that equates to 13 billion pounds of extra trash in the landfill.

Luckily, there's an alternative, and you can easily make them at home. To make your own reusable paper towels, you'll need a few kinds of fabric and basic sewing skills—we'll walk you through the rest! No matter what you use them for, these reusable paper towels will quickly become your go-to tool in the kitchen.

How to Make Reusable Paper Towels

Supplies Needed

  • 1 yard of flannel
  • 1 yard of waffle-woven cotton
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Plastic snaps
  • Snaps fastener tool
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Fabric marker
  • Cutting mat
  • Rotary cutter
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine

Step-by-Step Directions

Follow these how-to instructions to make your own reusable paper towels. You should be able to make one towel in under an hour.

Step 1: Wash and Cut Fabric

Pick up one yard of flannel and one yard of waffle-woven fabric in colors and patterns you like. Go with classic white, or use patterned fabrics that will show fewer stains. Pre-wash and dry the fabrics, then lay them down with right sides together. Use a rotary cutter ($11, Target) or fabric scissors to cut the fabric. For large towels, you will need five 8 1/2 x 11-inch rectangles of each fabric. To create smaller towels, cut five 6 x 11-inch rectangles of each fabric. You'll have two towel sizes on your finished roll. Cut an 11 x 14-inch piece of flannel for the center of the tube.

Step 2: Cut and Iron Interfacing

Once you've prepped the fabric, use scissors to cut 40 1-inch squares of fusible interfacing ($4, Joann). Iron a square of interfacing to corners of each fabric set.

Step 3: Sew Fabric Sets

Sew each fabric set (one piece of flannel and one piece of waffle-weave) right-sides together using a 1/4-inch seam allowance, leaving a two-inch opening at the bottom of each set. Clip the corners. Then turn each set right-side out and fold in the edges at the opening. Iron the seams, then topstitch 1/8-inch around the entire edge of the towel. Repeat with all the towels.

To form the center fabric tube, fold the top edge wrong sides together. Topstitch to create a finished edge and repeat on the bottom edge. Fold the fabric lengthwise, right sides together. Topstitch to form a tube and turn right side out.

Step 4: Add Snaps

To connect each towel together so that they nicely roll up together on a paper towel holder, add snaps ($3, Michaels) to each towel corner and on the tube. Use a fabric marker to mark the location of snaps on the tube, 1/2-inch from the edge of each corner. Using a washable fabric marker ($5, Joann), measure and mark ½-inch from the edge of each towel corner. Poke a hole in the snap location using snap pliers (or just look for sew-on snaps that don't require a special tool), then install the snaps. For each towel, be sure to put the female side up on one 11-inch side and a female side down on the other 11-inch side.

Step 5: Create Paper Towel Tube Shape

Lay the towels down, alternating sizes, and snap together. Snap one edge of towels to the inner tube and roll them up to use them. Slide the rolled-up towel tube onto your existing paper towel holder. To clean your reusable kitchen towels, wash them in your washing machine with detergent or bleach and dry them completely.

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