How to Make No-Sew Reusable Cloth Towels

APR 21, 2020 updated Sep 8, 2021
How to Make Reusable Paper Towels with a Yard of Fabric | Spoonflower Blog

Are you ready to ditch paper towels for good? After months of saying this was the year she would kick paper towels to the curb, Spoonflower’s Graphic Designer Alexis made the transition by swapping out her rolls of paper towels with reusable towels made from Organic Cotton Knit. With just one yard of fabric, see how you can join Alexis on making every day Earth Day—no sewing required!  

How to Make Reusable Cloth Towels

Reusable Paper Towel Materials

*1 yard of Organic Cotton Knit will yield fifteen 11″ (28cm) x 10.5″ (26cm) fabric towels.

Cut Out Your Fabric

Lay your fabric out flat on a cutting mat and cut out a rectangle that measures 11″ (28cm) x 10.5″ (26cm). Using this rectangle as a guide, continue cutting out towel pieces until you’ve cut all of your fabric. You should be able to get 15 towels from one yard of fabric. Because we’re using knit fabric, the raw edges won’t fray so there’s no sewing needed!

Pro tip: Planning to make bulk reusable paper towels? Create an 11″ (28cm) x 10.5″ (26cm) template from cardboard or chip board before you get started.

Cut out your fabric paper towel | Spoonflower Blog

Roll Your Fabric Pieces

Once you have all your pieces cut, stack them wrong side up on top of each other. Starting with the towel piece on the top of your stack, roll it loosely so there’s room to fit it onto a paper towel.

Roll your fabric paper towels | Spoonflower Blog

Add the next rectangle to the roll and continue rolling/adding pieces until you’ve used up all your towels. And just like that, you’re ready to start kick paper towels to the curb!

Pro tip: When adding a new towel piece, overlap it a little bit with the end of the previous piece to help give it some extra support.

Rolled fabric paper towels | Spoonflower Blog

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  • I’m a bit late to this party since I’ve just started reading your blog a few weeks ago, but I want to say what a lovely idea this is. I have used rags, but I’m looking forward to designing fabric for this project, something that matches the kitchen and, hopefully, makes me smile. Thank you for posting this idea.

    • Stella, Thank you so much for sharing and best of luck with designing and making!

      -Amy
      Spoonflower

  • Thank you for an inspiring article. I have seen the idea before, but you explain and illustrate it so attractively that I am inspired to make some. I used to use old terry face cloths but when they wear out or become irretrievably stained it cost too much to replace them. Even at the thrift shop. I know I can buy terry fabric, but that stuff unravels. Cotton knit is a much better idea!
    Keep on sending those good ideas out into the internet because most of us appreciate them and your kind efforts.

    • Hi Marlene,

      Would you be able to clarify what you mean by edge? If you’d like finished edges, we suggest either serging the edges or creating a 1/2″ double hem.

      I hope that helps, but if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask!

      Best Regards,
      -Meredith F.
      Spoonflower

  • Can you use these in the microwave to absorb moisture from foods when cooking (like you would disposable papertowel)? I love this idea, now all I have to do is decide which fabric pattern to use!

    • Hi Sarah,

      We’re so glad to hear you plan on making the towels! Folks on our team have used towels and napkins made of Organic Cotton Knit in the microwave for short periods of time (under 2 minutes) both to reduce food splatter and absorb moisture with no issues. I hope that helps and best of luck with the project!

      Take care,
      Amy
      Spoonflower

  • I’m confused. After rolling the fabric loosely, are you inserting the cardboard roll from a paper towel roll in the center? Or just putting them on the paper towel holder?
    Thanks

    • Hi Sandra,

      For this project, it is not necessary to insert a cardboard roll inside the fabric. You can just roll the fabric up gently, with enough room in the center to fit snuggly on your paper towel holder. And if you do not have a paper towel holder, you can just as easily keep these fabric “paper towel” alternatives in a kitchen drawer for easy access.

      Laurie S.
      Spoonflower

  • Shalanda Hearne

    Cool project to try especially since I’m a beginner at sewing. Does this material fray at all after a few washes?

    • Hi Shalanda,

      Since this is a knit fabric it won’t fray during washing if you leave the edges unfinished.

  • Cecille Whyte

    I really wish people would think before they put their thoughts in writing.

    Meredith, I think you pick me up on your ‘short wave’. Since this Pandemic, I have reduced my use of paper towel because of the constant handwashing. I use small tea towels/dish cloths and do a small wash load twice per week. I have lots of paper towel rolls to spare a few for this project. Thanks for sharing

  • Great idea! And they are super simple to make. Especially good for right now where paper products are hard to get a hold of of. The perfect time to go green.

    • Hi Trish,

      Great question! Alexis shared that the towels do a great job wiping up spills and feels like they’re more absorbent than traditional paper towels.

  • I absolutely love this! I’ve been wanting to do this to break my paper towel addiction. Can you please tell me a little about the care for these? Do you wash them like normal with everything else in your laundry?
    Thanks a million. I truly appreciate this tutorial!!!
    Stay safe out there,
    Alecia

    • Hi Alecia,

      Great question! We’ve washed our towels with other dirty laundry and we recommend using a phosphate-free detergent. I hope that helps, but if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask!

    • Hi Jessica,

      Great question! Alexis shared that the towels do a great job wiping up spills and feels like they’re more absorbent than traditional paper towels.

  • This was confusing– they’re not paper towels, they’re still fabric.

    You’re putting cloth on a roll- you could call them ‘Unpaper towels’ perhaps?

    ‘Cotton Knit Kitchen Wipes’?

    • Cotton Knit Kitchen Wipes is Great!

      To get people to start charging their habits, we might start by calling them washable Paper Towels, then Transition to Cotton Knit Kitchen Wipes.

      Who has ideas about getting people to remember that they should not be thrown away , but washed, just like anything that is dirty..

    • My thoughts exactly, Marion! I just use rags & kitchen towels. They wash up nicely & don’t require the time it takes to roll them up on a paper towel holder. The whole deal just seems pointless.