Introduction: How to Stop Using Paper Towels, Napkins, and Baby Wipes
You know you love it- the disposable convenience of a paper product which is there at the ready whenever you need it. You know it's clean. It's the right size. It's absorbent (sort of) and soft (not really), and always handy (until you run out). Okay, so maybe you never really thought much about it, but what do you think people used before the disposable age?
This instructable will teach you how to free yourself from the paper demon, while doing something useful with some junk you already have on hand.
Step 1: Materials Needed
All you really need is some fabric and scissors. I like to use old T-shirts. Use something soft and absorbent. Old receiving blankets, flannel shirts, fabric remnants, and that sort of thing work really well.
If you have access to a serger (the kind of sewing machine that has 3 or 4 spools of thread and cuts the seam allowance off while finishing off the edge), that would be best. You don't need it though. You can finish the edges with a regular sewing machine too. Or don't finish them, if you are using flannel or T-shirt fabric, it won't fray.
Many stores which sell sewing machines will let you "test drive" for as long as you want. Just bring in your project and have a seat! You'll be done in 10 minutes or less anyway.
Step 2: Make the Wipes!
CuttingI like to use a size of 5 inches by 8 inches. It seems just right for my hand. You might want to think about the container you want to store your wipes in, and make them that size. Good containers include baskets, old baby wipe containers, tupperware, whatever.
I like to make my wipes two layers thick. When you get to the part of the shirt that has screen printing on it, you can either turn the printing to the inside of your two-layer-thick stack, or throw it away. I like to use the printed-on fabric, because it helps me sort the wipes after the wash. I use the printed-on stuff for things I wouldn't want to touch my face with.
FinishingYou don't have to finish the edges. If you use a knit fabric, it will curl, but it won't fray or unravel. If that doesn't bother you, save the effort and stop here.
If, on the other hand, you either have a serger, or you have always wanted to try one out (which I highly recommend - if you have any inclination towards sewing, a serger is like driving a race car), you can finish off a two-layer thick wipe in about 10 seconds flat.
Just lay your two layers together, and start feeding it under the presser foot, while pressing the pedal. Let about 1/4 inch hang over and the machine will slice it right off as it sews them together. When you get to a corner, just go in a curve. When you get to where you started, be sure to sew over the first stitches a little bit, then angle your wipe away from the stitching edge to be done! Cut the strings, and voila!
Step 3: Goodbye Napkins!
Replace your paper napkins with a basket of wipes. So what if they aren't beautiful? Your paper napkins weren't that hot either. If you want to impress guests, make a few really nice napkins and save them just for company.
Step 4: Goodbye Germy Dish Rags!
Keep a stack of wipes under the kitchen sink. My grandmother used to use a dish rag. I hated, I mean HATED, the way it smelled. I use one wipe until the kitchen is clean, and then I toss it in the wash. You can also keep a little bucket under the sink to keep your dirty wipes in until your next trip to the laundry.
Step 5: Goodbye Paper Towels!
Keep a stack of wipes where ever you like to have a paper towel handy. I keep a stack next to the kitchen sink, and one in the bathroom drawer. They are great for drying hands, wiping faces, tidying up the sink, window, mirror, whatever.
Step 6: Goodbye Baby Wipes!
This is what my wipes were originally intended for (until I realized their unlimited utility!). If you ever had to spend a day wiping your own bum with those wood fiber commercial things soaked in who-knows-what chemicals, you would not want to touch your baby with one ever again. I keep a stack of the printed-on wipes in an old baby wipe box. I keep them dry until I am ready to use them. You can use plain old water to moisten the wipe when you need it, or you can find dozens of recipes online for wipe solutions (search for cloth diapering resources). I use a product I make myself to spray on his bottom before wiping off with the cloth wipe. Keep a bucket or bag nearby where you do the changing to collect dirty wipes in.
Step 7: Goodbye Tissues!
If you've ever had the chapped nose, cheeks, and upper lip that comes with blowing your nose all day, you can thank the wood fiber your tissues are made of. I use my cloth wipes as tissues, and they are much softer (and more absorbent) than their tree branch pulp counterparts.
Step 8: Washing
For some reason, people are often worried about whether or not their wipes will get clean in the wash. Trust me, they do. I just throw them in with the regular wash.Modern laundry detergent does amazing things. They may stain slightly after a while, but that doesn't mean they are not clean. Drying your laundry in the sun takes out a lot of the stains. Once in a while, I do a load of whites on hot and add some bleach. Nothing to it!