People have used hand towels for generations in the kitchen and bathroom. With the advent of paper towels, more of us have switched over because paper towels are efficient, disposable and easy to use. Both t
ypes of towels have their positive and negative aspects.
If you consider the green factor, cloth towels are the way to go. Paper towels are not environmentally friendly. For a typical family, dependence on paper towels can mean many rolls of towels every month. It is important to remember that paper towels are made at the expense of our forests and trees. If you use cloth towels, you can save on large quantities of paper and do your bit for the environment.
Paper towels are not reusable in most cases. Even if you rinse and keep aside a paper towel after use, you can use it again maybe once or twice, after which it will tear and come apart. On the other hand, you can use your cloth towel for a long period of time. Just wash it regularly and it is as good as new.
Paper towels are much more expensive than cloth towels in the long run. If you invest in a pair of quality cloth towels, they may cost the same as 12 rolls of paper towel. However, the paper towels will run out in some time, but you can continue to use the cloth towels.
Paper towels have an advantage over cloth towels when it comes to hygiene. If you want to clean up bacteria-laden messes, there is no better option than some absorbent, disposable paper towels. Many people with young children and pets depend on paper towels for cleaning vomit, urine or feces. If you use a cloth towel for such purposes, you may never want to use it again. A paper towel is highly convenient because it cleans up the mess and gets thrown in the trash.
Again, paper towels are better to use in the kitchen after you handle raw meat. If you use a cloth towel to clean up after cutting or cleaning raw meat, the towel will become a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria such as salmonella. Cloth towels require regular cleaning and disinfecting, which is quite cumbersome for many people. In the bathroom, cloth towels can aid in the spread of bacteria between people, even after they have washed their hands.
Paper towels can contribute quite a bit of waste, which adds to the burden of our landfills. Recycling paper towels is not always an option because they are most probably too messy. On the other hand, cloth towels produce no waste at all. Even after they serve their function as towels, you can use them as rag cloths for general cleaning around the house.
For really messy spills, paper towels are more convenient. If you spill oil or the garbage bag rips open as you take it out, you would not want to use your cloth towels for cleaning up the mess. The amount of cleaning you would need to do afterwards negates any environmental benefits from the use of a cloth towel.