This article is part of CNN Underscores Earth Week, a weeklong focus on our planet and ways to celebrate and preserve it. We’ll provide tips on how to live more sustainably, products to help you spend more time in nature, and exclusive offers throughout the week, so stop by every morning to see what’s new, and make sure you don’t miss out. subscribes to the CNN Underlined Newsletter to see it all.
I’ll just go ahead and admit it: I’m a paper towel addict. While I’ve managed to nip some of my previously environmentally unfriendly habits in the bud — Stasher’s reusable silicone bags, for example, were my biggest discovery of 2019 — I’m embarrassingly inclined to roll a certain size paper towel. dozens of times a day. Whether I’m wiping crumbs off my kitchen table or cleaning a red sauce explosion in the microwave, I turn to a paper towel 100% of the time.
Recently, however, I decided that this had to change. Not only is this consumption bad for the planet, it’s also bad for my monthly budget. For example, my favorite Brawny 16-pack of paper towels costs a whopping $32.12. In my search for a more sustainable solution, I discovered the Swedish dishcloth.
Grab this bulk pack of 10 and replace your paper towels forever.
This 10-pack is on sale now, below its original price of $24.99.
What is a Swedish dishcloth?
With nearly 23,000 positive reviews and a 4.6 star rating on Amazon, the 10-pack retails for $19.95, originally $24.99, and is currently popular for the above reasons that a) paper towels are wasteful and bad for the environment and b) paper towels are expensive! Are you ready for a fun fact? One Swedish dishcloth can actually replace 17 rolls of kitchen paper. Let that sink in, folks.
Here’s the backstory: Invented by a Swedish engineer in 1949, the dishcloths are reusable, biodegradable and extremely affordable, not to mention highly effective. As a result, they are widely used in Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, which also happen to be the world’s most environmentally friendly countries. Point is: it will be hard to find a roll of paper towels in Scandinavian homes or businesses because they all rely on Swedish dishcloths instead.
Aside from durability, the canvases have plenty of additional selling points that attract tons of fans here in the US. Consisting of renewable and natural fibers, specifically 70% cellulose and 30% cotton, the dishcloths air dry much faster than, say, the stinky sponges we Americans grew up with. This means that germs and bacteria (and their associated odors) don’t have time to grow on them – and if they do start to smell bad, just throw them in the dishwasher or washing machine and they’ll be as good as new after one cycle. Yes really. You can reuse each individual cloth hundreds of times before throwing it away, and don’t worry – they won’t end up in a landfill later on, as they’re also biodegradable.
Do Swedish dishcloths work?
Stop wasting paper towels and use dishcloths instead! Link in bio to shop! #swedishdishcloth #cleaningtiktok #cleaning #commissionearned
♬ deja vu sickmix – Sickickmusic
While I assumed I’d be using my set of cloths primarily in my kitchen, it turns out they’re much more versatile than I expected. For example, you can use the cloths to wash your car. Or remove nail polish (just add remover and voilà!). Or dry your pet’s paws. Or clean your mirrors and windows (fluff-free and streak-free!). I have one destined to wipe the messy faces and sticky hands of my four kids. I keep another one in their bathroom for an overnight clean of the counter/sink toothpaste. Since the cloths are safe on surfaces such as wood, marble, tile, stainless steel and yes, even human skin, suddenly they are replacing not only paper towels, but also napkins, sponges and your always damp dish towels.
There is also the fact that the dishcloths are extremely absorbent. The brand actually has a very watchable video of one cloth soaking up an entire cup of liquid (fast forward to 0:35 to catch it). This perk didn’t mean much to me—until I remembered the countless times I’d used dozens of paper towels to clean up a spilled cup of milk. So. Loads of. Waste.
You just need to head to the Amazon reviewers for even more reasons to give Swedish dishcloths a try. “Much better than all cotton dishcloths because they are VERY absorbent yet easily wring out completely (and I mean completely!) after use,” writes an Amazon reviewer. Another says: “I rarely write reviews, but these deserve a shout-out. SO much stronger than Handi Wipes and you can actually scrub with them, but they never feel dirty like a sponge. I’ve been using the same two for a month now and they still look great.”
it comes down to
The dishcloths are available in three color options – the white shade is a perfect match for the all-white kitchens that are now de rigueur, while the yellow and multicolored pack (now shipping only in August) would be a nice addition to a pop of color for a serene space – and given their rigid nature when dry coupled with their 3D diamond-shaped texture, they can also be used to scrub stubborn residue from pots, pans and more.
Having used the dishcloths for several weeks now, I can confirm that my paper towel usage is much lower. But more importantly, my peace of mind is way up. I love knowing that by reusing them day in and day out, I can dramatically reduce my household’s annual waste production. We will never be a zero-waste family, but the Swedish dishcloth is proof that a small change can go a long way.