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Looking to save money or minimize your home’s footprint? The kitchen is a great place to start. It’s where the most money is spent, and the most trash accumulates.

These alternatives to disposable kitchen products are cheap to invest in and there’s no sacrifice – they all work better than their disposable counterparts.

Keep reading to see paperless kitchen swaps and tips for implementing in your home.

Disposable Sponges

Disposable kitchen sponges are cheap, probably less than 25 cents a piece, but they’re just okay in terms of cleaning. The scrubber side erodes quickly if you’re trying to clean something hard, and have you ever noticed that the sponge seems like it’s shrinking?

That’s because it is. Disposable sponges erode, and small bits of plastic are washed down the drain. This shows it’s just a lousy product, and the small pieces of plastic end up on the waterways and in many cases are impossible to filter out.

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The Swap: machine washable sponges 

These sponges have 2 sides: microfiber and scrubber. While in use, they become dirty like any kitchen sponge, and discolor slightly over time but continue to work just as well after every wash.

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The Savings 

It will take awhile for this swap to pay for itself, but it’s not a huge investment up front. These sponges cost about $12 on Amazon, and you may be able to find similar ones elsewhere that are even cheaper.

Paper Towels 

Let’s be honest: paper towels don’t work that well. If you knock a cup of coffee over, how many paper towels does it take to actually clean it up? A third of the roll? Maybe not if you buy the super tough name brand paper towels, but then you’re paying A LOT for something that you know you’re just going to throw away.

The Swap: kitchen cloths 

Packs of kitchen cloths vary in size and cost, but you should be able to get a pack for about a dollar. The pack I purchased came in big sheets that I cut into fours. You can expect them to shrink and discolor mildly after washing. My cloths have held up well over many uses and washings.

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Performance of kitchen cloths versus paper towels:

  • Cloths are way more durable. I clean my whole home with these and none of them have torn yet.
  • Easily machine washable.
  • Simply put, they just work better. In every way.
  • The only con I can think of is that you need to change your system a little bit to accommodate, but I walk you through how to do that further down.

The Savings 

An entire pack of these kitchen cloths costs less than a single roll of paper towels. You should be able to get a pack for about a dollar.


The swap: cloth napkins 


They save money, cut waste and look nicer. You can buy them at kitchen stores, Target, Walmart, etc.

The Savings 

Cloth napkins can be pricey, but don’t have to be. These ones are from a home store and were about $3 each, but you can buy packs of cloth napkins at Walmart or online even cheaper.

Making The Shift From Disposable To Reusable

These products are all an upgrade from their disposable counterparts. All you have to do is get your household on board with putting the sponge/cloth/napkin somewhere other than the garbage can, and your work here is done.

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I suggest a system under your kitchen sink or somewhere nearby where you’re actually using the product, so it doesn’t’ seem like a chore. I keep my clean and used items right next to each other in a storage cube from Ikea. Any organization system will work.

I keep the clean items on the left, and the used on the right. I use a plastic bag as a liner for the used rags, so I can pull that out and take it directly to the washing machine.

Pro tip: let things dry before putting them under the sink.

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I wash my  kitchen laundry alone and hang dry it. Drying takes more energy and shortens the life of fabrics.

You May Also Like: 9 Gift Ideas For The Environmentally Friendly People In Your Life

The Big Picture

You could make all of these changes at once for about $20 (maybe more if you get fancy cloth napkins). These swaps pay for themselves, and they  work better than the disposable products.

They also keep the products themselves AND all of the plastic packaging they come in from going in your garbage can.

What swaps do you have to add to this list? Any easy kitchen favorites to add? I love to hear from you!

Just so you know, the Amazon link in this article are affiliated, but the recommendations are exactly the same! Every penny earned helps support this blog. Thank you for reading! It is SO appreciated.  

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Posted by:Kayla

Hello, friend! I'm Kayla. I help people shrink their footprint on the Earth and find freedom in owning less. On Writing From Nowhere, I share ideas on living more intentionally and sustainably.  

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