How To Get The Most Out Of Every Paper Towel Roll

Is your house a paper towel mill? Do you throw out and go through 47 rolls a week? We used too.

I blame my significant other. He has to use 7 sheets at one time (that’s not an exaggeration) to dry his hands off! I mean come on, seriously his hands are not that big. I could dry my youngest off from head to toe with that many. You pick your battles right? Anyways, because of his excessive use we were going through 6-10 rolls a week.

Okay, it wasn’t all his fault. I am a little OCD about washing my hands, and even though I only use 1-2 at the most, when you wash your hands 3-7 times an hour it adds up. To my credit I have gotten a lot “better” but the decrease doesn’t seem to have made too much of a difference.

Besides hand washing we use paper towels for cleaning and often as napkins for meals. I can’t forget to mention my then 3 year-old’s consumption. Let’s just put it this way, my family uses a lot of paper towels.

Having trouble getting your little one to clean up? Check out my tip to get even the laziest child to clean, with zero yelling.

I’ve Tried To Thwart The Wasting

Good paper towels aren’t cheap either and for a family on a budget it’s just inane to be that wasteful. We have tried the hand towel in the kitchen, it would get used one time (again by my SO) and thrown in the laundry right after. By the end of a day there wasn’t a hand towel left in the house. I LOATHE laundry so that did not last long.

I tried “hiding” the rolls above my stove and it worked for a while. My SO is lazy and did not want to reach up there for them. I was washing my hands, opening up the cabinet getting myself a paper towel and putting the roll back up. He soon caught on to my master plan and it stopped working, it does slow him down though.

When Your Mother Comes To Town, Things Turn Around

One visit about 2 years ago my mother, who lived in California at the time was down. She stood scoffing, irately at the mound of paper towels piled up in the trash can. I can still her the disapproval in the tone of her voice:

“Ugh, Jacqueline (the full name.. uh-oh) why aren’t you saving these paper towels for later? You could use them to clean your counters. They’re not dirty! This is such a waste. I don’t know how you guys can afford this…” and on and on it went. (Love you Mom)

Grudgingly, after the hour long lecture. I started saving little piles of paper towels here and there and used them to wipe the counters off. Clean up spills on the floor and other little things I’d normally use a clean paper towel for.

Let me explain something about My Mother.  She is obsessed and saves paper towels from EVERYWHERE. I mean if she is at a public place that has them in their restroom, she will put the one she used to dry her hands on, in her purse to save for cleaning at home. I was just talking to her yesterday and told her I was going to write this post. She boasted about not having purchased a single paper towel in years, because of her “saving” habits.


Coincidentally,  when she was at her boyfriends Moms house this past week the conversation of missing paper towels got brought up. His Mom keeps paper towels in the bathroom and apparently my Mother had been putting all her used ones in her purse to take home. His Mom had no idea and was wondering why there was never any trash in the bathroom after she was there. Turns out she thought my Mother just wasn’t washing her hands after, for 2 1/2 years. Gross!

Mother Knows Best – How To Cut Back On Your Paper Towel Expenses

Here I am two years later with a dedicated basket that sits on my kitchen counter to collect paper towels. We have cut down our use dramatically. But, in the same sense we haven’t because we are still using the same amount in our daily lives.

The difference is that when I am cleaning, I grab a recycled towel from the basket instead of a fresh one.

This is such an easy thing to do to cut back on paper products. Find a little basket, or pick one up at your local Dollar store set it on the counter near your sink. After you wash your hands throw your paper towels in it, and that’s it. The basket we use, actually came from a fake house plant we used to have as a dust collector, sorry I mean decorative piece.

Not only does this save you money, it helps cut down on waste and is more environmentally friendly.

Now, if I only I could get my 5 year old to stop using half a roll of toilet paper in one sitting. I’d be making some real progress!

Do you have any tricks you use a home to cut back on paper use? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear them.

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Help Other Families Cut Back On Waste

When you're on a budget you can't afford to waste! How to cut back on paper towel expenses by recycling. Moms, get your whole family involved and start saving money.


  1. When I first started reading this, it could have been written by me. My Hubby was a HUGE paper towel waster. And I couldn’t make him change. So instead I just stopped buying them period and we moved to cloth. It does make a bit more laundry (but I made the cloth pieces smallish so not too bad) but I’m used to doing lots of laundry anyway.

    1. I LOATH laundry. Well, the folding really and I still haven’t been able to just suck it up. When we tried the hand towels only, we’d end up with nothing to dry our hands on for two days.

  2. Omg what a great idea! We definitely use a TON of paper towels. I will have to give this method a try for sure. My husband really has OCD so he won’t be joining in with us but my kids and I can definitely do it to help reduce our use.

  3. This is a really smart idea. I’m super OCD about hand washing, so I go through quite a few paper towels too. Reusing them to clean up messes is a great idea. I’m really the only one who uses them, so I know they’ll be pretty clean!

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