Reusable Kitchen Roll – Eco-friendly Alternative

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If you read my blog regularly, you may know that I am a huge fan of being zero waste. I love helping to save our environment by cutting down on wastage. Did you know that we throw away so much paper each year in the form of paper towels? With this in mind I decided to make some frugal, waste reducing reusable kitchen roll. Or paper-less towels. An eco-friendly alternative to traditional paper towels.

Reusable Kitchen Roll

reusable kitchen roll


Last year I did a whole series of posts on Lagom. This is the Swedish concept of reusing and recycling and reducing waste. I hate throwing away old clothes, and love to repurpose them (like in my post New Clothes From Old). Even tiny bits get used (like in my Rag Rug making or fabric scrap posts).

But one of the best ideas I have come across is how to repurpose old towels and terry cloths into these reusable kitchen roll towels. So you have an old tea towel with a hole in? Don’t throw it away! I am going to share two ways of making them.

You will need

reusable kitchen roll - materials needed

  • An old towel (or terry cloth)
  • Some cotton fabric, either new or from old clothes
  • a rotary cutter and cutting mat (which I find best for cutting even squares, though you can do it with scissors)
  • a kam-snap kit ( sharp hole tool and kam snap pliers)
  • a ruler or quilting cutting square
  • a sewing machine or a serger/overlocker.
Method 1 – using the overlocker

reusable kitchen roll - cutting old towel

Using the rotary cutter and measuring square, I cut the old towel into squares (mine were 9 inches square). And did the same with the top fabric.

reusable kitchen roll - method 1 - squares

I then took a square of towel and a top layer and put them WRONG sides together. This means that the right sides of the towel are facing outwards.

reusable kitchen roll -assembling method 1

I overlocked all four sides of the assembled towel.

reusable kitchen roll - overlocked edges

And then to strengthen the towel and prevent it from bagging in the wash I also sewed a straight line diagonally from corner to corner.


reusable kitchen roll - diagonals sewn method 1

These are really quick and easy to make, but you may think that they look a little less refined.

Method 2 – using just a sewing machine

For method 2 I cut out my squares exactly the same way using a rotary cutter and measuring square. This time I used terry cloth.

reusable kitchen roll - method 2 cutout squares

I pinned the upper and lower layer RIGHT sides together this time. And marked on one edge where I was going to start and stop sewing to allow me to turn it inside out.

reusable kitchen roll - method 2 pinned

I then sewed around the edge of the pinned squares, using the edge of the presser foot as a guide. I made sure I did a few backstitches at the start and end where I had placed the dots. This meant that I had used a 6mm seam allowance. (You can use more, but I wanted to keep these towels as close to the size of the other towels as possible)

reusable kitchen roll - sewn inside out method 2

Once I had finished at the second dot, I clipped the corners close to, but not into, the stitching. If you have done a larger seam allowance I would cut it back at this point to 5mm or so, but I didn’t need to do that.

I turned the whole thing inside out so that the right sides were on the outside one more, pushing out the corners as much as possible. And gave it a good press, so that the edges were crisp. Where the turning gap was, I made sure that this got a really good press.

reusable kitchen roll - finished method 2 towel

Then I sewed a scant topstitch about 3mm from the edge all the way around the edge of the towel. This serves to make the towel edges crisp, but also seals the gap in the edge where we turned it inside out earlier. Again, I also sewed diagonally from corner to corner, as this stops the towel from getting misshapen and baggy when it is washed.

Attaching the Reusable Kitchen Roll Together

I made 4 of each type of towel.

reusable kitchen roll - all the towels made up

Attaching them together is where the Kam-snaps come into play. Using the sharp tool, you make a hole in each corners of each towel.

reusable kitchen roll - making kam-snap holes

To the left 2 corners of each towel, you attach a Kam-snap with a female attachment on the cotton side and the smooth part on the towelling side.

reusable kitchen roll - female cam snap attachment Female Kam-snap attachments

to the right two corners, you attach a Kam-snap with the male attachment on the towelling side and the smooth part to the cotton side.

reusable kitchen roll - male attachment Male Kam-snap attachment

Thus the reusable kitchen roll will fit together and slightly overlap.

reusable kitchen roll - attached together

These are so useful to have as they can all snap to each other. I like to roll mine up on the towel stand just like a regular roll of paper. They can be washed again and again, and you can just keep clipping them back on once they have been washed.

reusable kitchen roll

Love these? Why not make some unsponges to go with them? A great zero waste kitchen swap alternative to bacteria breeding scrubbers.

How To Make Unsponges - Make your own kitchen sponges - a great alternative to plastic bacteria breeding sponges and scrubbers. A great zero waste kitchen swap. Upcycle old clothes, towels and bedding to make these padded scrubbing washing cloths that can be laundered with the rest of your wash. DIY unsponge tutorial with pictures. Pictorial guide to making these sustainable recycled kitchen swaps. Environmentally friendly #unsponges #kitchenswaps #upcycling #sustainable #zerowaste #environmentallyfriendly #kitchenunsponges #diyunsponge

Or try making some reusable sandwich wraps – a great zero waste alternative to plastic sandwich bags.

Reusable kitchen roll is also a great gift idea. How colourful are these? Why not pin this for later and make your own reusable kitchen roll?

reusable kitchen roll

Linking to:

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Classy Flamingos Linky

Vintage Charm Party

Linking to Pin Junkie

And The Stitching Mommy

padded fabric Christmas trees

Mix It Up Linky

52 Replies to “Reusable Kitchen Roll – Eco-friendly Alternative”

  1. Mother of 3 says:

    I have had a set of snaps forever hoping to get around to making these!! Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial with us at Encouraging Hearts and Home. Pinned.

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you Jane. I’m always looking for ways to reuse old clothes and towels, so these seemed a great start.

  2. Lydia C. Lee says:

    That’s a great idea. If you use them for getting the grease off bacon, what do you do? Just soak in nappisan (stain soaker?) or is there a trick? (My kid wears an apron at work on the grills and nothing seems to get it out so clearly it’s something on my mind). Love this idea. #KCACOLS

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      I find the best way is soaking them in hot water with washing up liquid. Hopefully that would work on aprons too! Thank you for reading! #KCACOLS

  3. Jade says:

    This is such a great idea, I am always wiping up spills with kitchen towel and its such a waste. #KCACOLS

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you so much. I think it is more useful than paper towelling.

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      I certainly will be doing many more of these! Thank you for reading!

  4. Clare - Flip flops or Wellies says:

    This is a good idea, I do try not to use too much of things like kitchen roll. When you start looking ways to reduce using things like foil and cling film its really quite easy. #KCACOLS

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      I do just think that we need to get away from single use items, but without sacrificing hygiene.

  5. sa says:

    Jo, as a greenie, myself, I LOVE this idea! It is brilliant. I think I need to get to work on this. We never use paper towels, but this way, I can see it being okay. Thank you! XOXO #kcacols

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you Lisa. Anything I can do to reduce paper waste is good for me.

  6. Malin - Sensational Learning with Penguin says:

    Very nice idea! I generally use a regular kitchen towel for most things that I’m guessing others would use their paper kitchen roll for. We don’t buy any kitchen roll, but we do have a toilet roll available in the kitchen, for some of the smaller messes. I try to avoid using it though, to save both money and environment, as you highlight here. Your cloth roll looks pretty smart, I like it x
    Malin – Sensational Learning with Penguin recently posted…Days Out in the South East: Walmer Castle & GardensMy Profile

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      I do think that this is prettier and like a mini tea cloth, designed to be used just the once.

  7. Nana K says:

    Saw this on Handmade Monday. What a great idea to use older towels! I have been looking at zero waste ideas recently and these are fabulous. Pinned!!

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you. Also plan to make make up removing pads and sanitary products to recycle old towels so watch this space. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you. I do like the fact that it is practical but pretty too!

  8. Sheila says:

    I have seen these before and I think they are just wonderful! Thanks for sharing how to make them. #KCACOLS

  9. Julie says:

    They are great, I love a good upcycle idea.
    I often think how wasteful throw away cloths are, this is a wonderful alternative.

  10. Christy says:

    This is such a good idea. I read a lot about recycling/reusing and general environment improvement but I’ve honestly never heard anyone suggesting replacing the paper towel for something reusable – and it makes so much sense. #KCACOLS

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      I do think that we need a hygienic alternative to paper towelling, and think that this upcycled project just makes sense.

  11. Kerryanne says:

    I definitely need to make these Jo. Thank you for sharing your reusable kitchen towels at Create, Bake, Grow & Gather this week. I’m delighted to be sharing this project at Friday’s party and pinning too.
    Hugs – Kerryanne

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you Rach. They really are so easy. And a great way of not throwing out old towels. Thank you for linking up with #KCACOLS and hope to see you again next time!


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