How to Clean Reusable Paper Towels: A Complete Guide

Reusable paper towels are an eco-friendly choice instead of regular paper towels. As the name says, they can be used many times and don’t go in the trash after just one use. But to keep reusable paper towels working well you need to wash them regularly.

This article will provide detailed instructions on cleaning reusable paper towels using various methods. Whether you’re using them for light tasks or heavy-duty cleaning, it’s important to keep them clean so they work well and last a long time.

When to Clean Reusable Paper Towels

Reusable paper towels should be cleaned:

  • After every use – For light cleaning tasks, a quick rinse or wipe down after each use keeps towels fresh.
  • Weekly – For deeper cleaning, especially after heavy use or messy jobs, wash towels weekly.

Routine cleaning maintains their quality and absorbency. Don’t let stains set in too long before washing.

dirty reusable paper towel

Supplies Needed

To clean reusable paper towels, you’ll need:

  • Water
  • Soap
  • Washing machine or dishwasher (optional)

Basic supplies like water, soap, and a drying area are all that’s needed for manual cleaning. For machine washing, just toss them in with your regular loads.

Washing Instructions

The key to keeping reusable paper towels absorbent and odor-free is washing them regularly. Here are some recommended cleaning methods:

Lighter Cleaning Option

For day-to-day cleaning, a quick rinse will keep your towels fresh in between deeper cleans.

Rinse with Soap & Water

After using your reusable paper towel for a task, give it a rinse under clean running water. Wring out any excess moisture.

  • If you use it for a light job like wiping counters, water alone is sufficient.
  • If you cleaned up something messier, use a small amount of mild, eco-friendly dish soap when rinsing.

Hang the towel up to dry fully. Having a dedicated hook or drying rack for your paper towels makes this easy. Some brands even come with built-in hangers or rings!

Why It’s Important

  • Removes debris, grease, and bacteria from the towel.
  • Stops residue from transferring to other surfaces.
  • Helps maintain absorbency.
  • Prevents odors and growth of germs.
someone washing dirty reusable paper towel in a sink full of soapy water.

Deep Cleaning Options

For a more thorough refresh, give your towels a deep clean weekly or as needed. You have two easy options:

1. Dishwasher

Place your reusable paper towel on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run a full wash cycle with heated drying disabled. Once finished, remove the towel and squeeze out any excess water over the sink. Hang on your drying rack or hook and allow to fully air dry.


  • Hot water and detergent sanitize the towel.
  • Removes stuck-on grease and residue.
  • Restores absorbency and extends lifespan.

2. Washing Machine

Place your paper towel into the washing machine with a regular load of laundry. Wash using your usual settings with warm water.

Avoid putting reusable paper towels in the dryer, as high heat can cause shrinkage. Always air dry only. Once washed, hang the towel up to dry just like with the dishwasher method.


  • Cleans multiple towels at once.
  • Gently cleans with laundry detergent.
  • Air drying retains shape and size.

Storage Tips to Avoid Mildew and Odors

To prevent mildew growth between uses, always hang your reusable paper towel holder on a hook, rod, or stand. Allow it to completely air dry before folding up or rolling it for storage.

Store them in a dry and well-ventilated area. Storage containers or baskets work well for keeping them neatly contained.

How Long Do They Last?

With proper care, here is the average lifespan of reusable paper towels:

  • 2-3 months with regular use
  • 6-9 months with occasional, light use
  • Towels used for heavy-duty cleaning may wear out sooner

When It’s Time to Replace?

Watch for these signs that your reusable towel has reached the end of its lifespan:

  • Takes longer to fully soak and soften in water
  • Noticeably reduced absorption capacity
  • Appears well-worn, thin, or developing holes

When you notice these signs, it’s time to compost or trash the paper towel and replace it with a fresh one.


Reusable paper towels are an easy way to reduce waste. With proper care and cleaning, they can deliver reliable performance for months. Follow these guidelines to keep your reusable paper towels fresh and ready for your cleaning needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are reusable paper towels washable?

Yes, reusable paper towels are washable. They are designed to be used multiple times, so washing them regularly is recommended to keep them clean.

How many times can you reuse a paper towel?

Most reusable paper towels can be reused for 2-3 months with proper cleaning. With light use, some can last up to 6-9 months before needing replacement.

Can reusable paper towels go in the washing machine?

Yes, reusable paper towels can safely be washed in the washing machine. Just add them to your regular laundry and wash them on a normal cycle with cold or warm water.

Can you wash reusable paper towels in a dishwasher?

Yes, the dishwasher is an effective way to wash reusable paper towels. Place them on the top rack and run a normal wash cycle. Squeeze out excess water and hang to fully air dry after. The dishwasher helps sanitize and refresh them.


Leave a Reply