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Fast and easy unpaper towels DIY

Here is a fast and easy unpaper towels DIY. Actually, have you heard of unpaper towels? It sounds weird, but I swear it is really cool!

Rather than buy large amounts of paper towels, that will just end up in the landfill, and paper towels are a way to cut down on that. The idea is to use up scrap fabric, towels, T-shirts, even blankets and sheets, and make them into sturdy rags that you can use around the house, in your garage, even your craft room.

Paper towels and the landfill

paper towels

Paper towels in landfills have a serious environmental impact. They actually do not always break down and they take up large amounts of space. This can lead to large areas of municipal landfills being filled with paper towel gunk and reach capacity faster. They can also contribute to increased methane gas emissions which is detrimental to the environment.

It is estimated that the average American family uses approximately 150 (or more!) paper towels per year, leading to a lot of extra waste. If these paper towels are disposed of in a landfill, they will remain there for years.

CRAFTS TO THE RESCUE! I’m always inspired to find solutions, and reusable cloth towels when possible seems like an easy fit!

This Unpaper towels DIY is a wonderful project on so many levels

fast and easy unpaper towels diy

It is a great idea for beginner sewers to get used to fabric and working with a sewing machine. And it is a nice therapy session for those of us who are experienced stitchers. I sat down and made 36 of these unpaper towels in one sitting!

How to use unpaper towels

fast and easy unpaper towels diy

Keep some in the garage for wiping hands, cleaning windshields, polishing items.
Use them in the kitchen for cleaning up spills, wiping countertops, keep some aside for wiping little faces and hands clean.
Store some in your craft room for paint spills, or any other reasons necessary
Package them up and give them as gifts to friends and family to encourage them to use less paper towels!
Make a stack of them for your children’s classroom, teacher, or art teacher. I’m sure they would really appreciate it!

RELATED POST: DIY upcycled flannel shirt w/ a T shirt applique


assorted fabrics for fast and easy unpaper towels diy
fabrics lined up in a shop window, front view

Decide what size you would like your own reusable paper towels to be. I made mine 10” x 10”, my next batch I think I will make them a little bit bigger, probably 12” x 12”.

So let’s go with that size for this tutorial.

Assorted fabric cut into 12” x 12” pieces. Keep in mind that you will be using these to clean up paint spills and what not, so stick with fabric that is absorbent. You can go through old T-shirts, fleece, blankets, and old towels. Terrycloth items are awesome, more scrubbing action!

If you do not have any on hand, you can visit the thrift store and buy some.

Or if you want to make them brand new, you can buy a package of towels from a discount department store.

You will also need fabric scissors and straight pins and or sewing clips.


unpaper towels diy

1. Sort all of your fabric pieces into pairs. If they have patterns you want to take two pieces of fabric with the right sides facing in.

2. Clip or pin on three sides.

If you are making a large batch, I suggest creating an assembly line type of production. Stack all of your fabrics in sets of two, clip them all, and then take them to the sewing machine and sew them one by one.

Sew with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

unpaper towels diy
Start sewing in the center of one of the sides. Sew all the way around and stop when you are 2″ from where you started. Make sure to backstitch.


Time to sew!

3. Beginning on the side that does not have pins, sew, then backstitch, then sew straight, starting in the middle of the side and go all the way around the fabric squares and stop about 2 inches from where you started sewing.

This will leave a hole so that you can turn your own paper towel inside out.

unpaper towels diy

4. Use your scissors to cut the corners off of each end. Make sure not to cut the stitches you just sewed. Cutting off these corners will create less bulk for when you go to sew the final hem. That way you will not break a needle going over those thick corners!

unpaper towels diy

5. Turn your piece inside out, and use a chopstick or pen to poke out the corner so they are straight.

6. Sew a hem all the way around your new unpapered towel. Make sure to sew over the area that was opened. If you’d like, you can so an “X” from each corner to corner to make it even sturdier.

unpaper towels diy
Finish up!

7. Continue until you have all of the other ones finished.

Go through and cut all the excess threads.

unpaper towels diy

And there you go! Now you have some lovely on paper towels that you can use in your house or give them away to friends and family!

unpaper towels diy

Thanks for checking out my post about this fast and easy unpaper towels DIY! I hope you like it!

Check out my video!


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A post shared by Kathy Cano-Murillo (@craftychica)


I’ve seen other people only use flannel or fleece and terry cloth – and then wrap them in a roll around a paper towel holder because the flannel sticks together.

To clean, just toss them in the washing machine.

Other easy sewing projects!

Beach towel tote

Super Cute Things to Make with Fabric Scraps

15 Artful crafts to make when you’re bored

Disco ball inspired corazón


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