How to Make Your Own Reusable Unpaper Towels

Do you hate all the waste you create by using paper towels? A practical and easy alternative is “unpaper” towels!

And if you’re kind of frugal like me and prefer reusable kitchen items to disposable, unpaper towels are your solution. 😉

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stack of eco-friendly reusable unpaper towels

What are unpaper towels?

Unpaper towels are reusable towels that are better for the environment and actually better for your savings account too since you do not dispose of them in the trash after every use. Just use, wash, and reuse. No need to continually buy more.

I made my own unpaper towels using this exact method over two years ago and have saved a good chunk of money by not purchasing paper towels for our everyday use! Not to mention it’s an easy way to reduce household waste.

Here are the easy to follow directions that I used to make another batch of DIY unpaper towels!

And by the way…if you are not into making your own, you can always let someone else do the work. 😉 Etsy sells all kinds of unpaper towels. They come in different sizes, patterns, and materials. These modern-patterned unpaper towels are probably my favorite.

Related: 9 Sustainable Kitchen Swaps for an Eco-Friendly House

Why would I need another batch of unpaper towels?

When our dog was just a puppy, she liked to steal our unpaper towels from our laps while we ate, so she destroyed quite a few.

Also, (FYI) some food products will stain these unpaper towels. Especially anything with a really dark or bright orange color seemed to stain these towels.

The stains and small holes weren’t a huge deal to us – we still used the stained and holy paper towels. But I finally broke out the sewing machine and made a new batch of unpaper towels for our stash.

Here’s how to make unpaper towels:

flour sack cloth for unpaper towels DIY

Step #1. Purchase Flour Sack Towels:

I purchased this 28in x 29in 10 pack of flour sack towels. For a more manageable project I would recommend getting the 5 pack.

The 5 pack of flour sack towels yields 30 unpaper towels. And the 10 pack makes 60 unpaper towels! Sewing the edges of sixty unpaper towels definitely took some time, so you may want to start with just the 5-pack. That’s what I started with.

This time around, I decided on the 10 pack so that I would have a backup stash of unpaper towels when all of mine are dirty. This is not necessary though.

How many unpaper towels do you need?

For two people, 30 unpaper towels is enough. For the past two and a half years, my husband and I used a stash of 30 unpaper towels. About once a week, when all of the unpaper towels were dirty, I threw them all in the washing machine and we would reuse them again for another week.

Note: Do not pre-wash the flour sack cloth because the ends will fray. Wait until you have sewed the edges.

Related: 8 Ways to Reuse Containers in Your Kitchen

Step #2. Cut the Flour Sack Cloth:

These flour sack cloths are 28in x 29in, so one side is just one inch longer than the other. These dimensions are the same between the 5 pack and the 10 pack of towels.

Honestly, you probably won’t notice if these cuts are a little uneven (in any step in this process, actually), but if you have perfectionist tendencies just keep this folding/cutting process consistent with each flour sack cloth.

steps to fold an unpaper towel

Fold the cloth in half long ways (or “hot dog style” if you’re a kid like me). This is step one and two in the picture above.

You can cut along the fold here now or wait until you have folded the entire cloth and cut it up while folded, which is what I did as you can see in the picture below.

scissors cutting flour sack cloth for unpaper towel

Then fold the cloth in the other direction into thirds (I believe we called it “hamburger-style” in kindergarten, right?). This will almost be the size of a thin paper towel (the narrow kind where you can “select-a-size”). See the picture below for a paper towel size comparison.

unpaper towel size compared to a paper towel

It is at this step that I cut all of the folded edges while it was folded up. It wasn’t a beautifully-clean cut, but it was fast and efficient.

After this step, you should have 6 individual pieces cut from one original flour sack cloth.

Repeat for the remaining 4 (or 9) flour sack cloths.

Step #3. Sew the Edges:

To prevent the cut edges from fraying after you wash them, the next step is to sew the edges. Don’t worry, this is the easiest type of sewing possible. Trust me, I am the most beginner of sewers and I did it. 😉

So it’s time to dig out the ol’ sewing machine, or just borrow one from a friend or mom.

Here’s how to sew unpaper towels. First use the zig zag stitch setting on your sewing machine.

I used a medium length setting on my sewing machine (2 out of 5). But again, this is not super specific so it’s ok if you decide to go with a smaller/tighter setting.

zig zag sewing setting

Half of the stitch will go into the fabric and the other half will go off the edge (see picture below).

Note: you will notice that some of the sides of the flour sack cloth have a finished edge already. You do not need to sew those edges.

I’m not going to teach you the basics of how to sew a straight (zig zag) line down the edge of a piece of fabric. But if you need that tutorial that’s why youtube exists, right? 😉

And that’s pretty much it! Congratulations, you’ve just learned how to make the easiest unpaper towels ever.

Related: The Top 12 Eco-Friendly Products of 2021 From Amazon

And that’s pretty much it! Congratulations, you’ve just learned how to make the easiest unpaper towels ever.

Here’s what the sewn edge should look like:

sewn edge of DIY unpaper towel

I simply fold my clean unpaper towels in half and place them in a basket on my kitchen counter where they are easily accessible. When I am done using one I place it in a small mesh bag that is hanging in my pantry. In our apartment (which had no pantry) I nailed the mesh bag to the back of the cabinet door below the kitchen sink. Whatever works for you.

Enjoy your new reusable unpaper towels and the knowledge that you have made a step towards a more sustainable kitchen and an eco-friendly home!

folded unpaper towels on kitchen counter in basket

Note: we still have a kitchen roll of disposable paper towels that we use to clean up messes that would stain our unpaper towels. But these and other paper products from the kitchen can go in your compost bin.

For other sustainable kitchen swap ideas, check out my post: 9 Sustainable Kitchen Swaps for an Eco-Friendly House


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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Evangelia

    Wow! This is so so unique! And so relatable at the moment. I have never heard of the flour sack cloth! I actually really want to try this. I have been trying to integrate more eco-friendly alternatives in my life. Thank you for putting this together, we need more information like this! 😀

    1. Jaime

      Yay, I’m glad it inspired you! And thank you for the kind words <3

  2. Tina

    I have a pack of the flour sack cloth in my pantry. I’m going to try this! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Jaime

      No way! How perfect! Let me know if you have any questions as you try it out 🙂

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