Best alternative to the paper towel.
To be honest, I’m a paper towel addict. I am embarrassingly prone to ripping a paper towel off the roll a dozen times a day (especially during the Covid-19 lockdown period). Whether I’m wiping my mirrors or cleaning a curry explosion in the microwave, I turn to a paper towel almost 100% of the time. While someone actually mentioned using old newspapers and rags, there are some issues I've encountered. Who reads newspapers anymore when you get all your news from apps these days? And old rags leave plenty of streaks when cleaning mirrors and I don't really have that many t-shirts to begin with.
Generally speaking, cleaning and environmental friendliness can often be at odds, considering the harsh chemicals in cleaning products, the plastic containers they are packed in, and all the paper towels used along with them. Of course, many folks have come up with smart solutions, from cleaning with vinegar and baking soda to repurposing old T-shirts as reusable cleaning rags. But for those, like me, who are still trying to make their cleaning routines more environmentally sustainable, here’s one more solution: the reusable Swedish dishcloth.
The origin of an age old product.
Originally known as Wettex, a material which was invented by a Swedish engineer, Curt Lindquist in 1949, where its main purpose was to dry up liquids. Today, these dishcloths are reusable, biodegradable and ultra affordable, not to mention highly effective. As a result, they’re widely used throughout Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, which happen to also be the world’s most eco-friendly countries. Fun fact: You’ll be hard-pressed to find a roll of paper towel in any Nordic homes or businesses, as they’re all relying on Swedish dishcloths instead.
The pros and cons of the Neuhabitat Sponge Cloth.
Swedish dishcloths a.k.a sponge cloths comprised of renewable and natural fibers, specifically 70% cellulose and 30% cotton, the sponge cloths air-dry much more quickly than, say, the stinky and germ-trodden sponges and microfiber dishcloths that I grew up using. So because of this unique material composition in the sponge cloths, germs and bacteria (and their accompanying odors) don’t have time to grow on them — because when they are dry, they harden (see picture below), when wet they soften — and if they do happen to start smelling gross, simply toss them in the dishwasher or washing machine and they’ll be good as new after one cycle. With that in mind, they won't stink up your kitchen or cleaning supply cupboard. They can also clean almost any kind of surfaces — glass included. You won't have to worry about leaving behind streaks when wiping down furniture or windows. I've used it to clean my car, large mirror panels, the office pantry, and dry the dishes too! You can reuse each individual cloth hundreds of times before throwing it out, and fear not — they won’t sit in a landfill for hundreds of years, because they’re biodegradable too.
This is how it looks like after I used it for one and a half years (yes I know, it's starting to biodegrade).
Here's the cost comparison:
One sponge cloth can last a year or 2, and it costs SGD5 to 7 for one piece.
One roll of paper towel costs on average SGD1 and lasts about 2 weeks (subject to individual usage).
You must be wondering, are Swedish dishcloths omnipotent then? Well, they aren't. It's not my tool of choice for scrubbing off sticky bits of burnt food or grease on pots and pans. In cases as such, I would use a quality kitchen brush for the task instead.
Cleaning supplies to pair with your sponge cloth.
Sponge cloths can be easily softened with a bit of water, but you'll likely want an eco-friendly cleaner to disinfect certain areas in your home. Here are a few of our top earth-friendly picks :
The Bacoff Natural Multi-Purpose Cleaner works on tough dirt and grease. Kills germs and pathogens naturally. It is skin friendly, non-corrosive and non toxic. There won't be any toxic fumes produced during cleaning. Bacoff cleaning products leaves no toxic residue and are therefore safe for your family and the environment. 100% FDA listed food grade ingredients. 100% biodegradable product.
The Method All-Purpose Cleaner - French Lavender is our favorite low-cost natural cleaner option thanks to its naturally derived, biodegradable ingredients and non-toxic plant based powergreen™ technology which cuts through grease and grime on counters, tile, stone, wood and glass.
Last but not least, the Bio home Multi Surface Cleaner is a general all-purpose cleaning solution that’s perfect for all your daily cleaning needs. Featuring a rinse-free formula that makes cleaning easy and ensures surfaces are free from dirt and dust. Bio-home Multi-Surface Cleaner can be used on all types of surfaces including wood, marble and veneer, without leaving any toxic chemical residues.
If you have an innovative idea of how you use the sponge cloth, feel free to share it with us here or simply leave your comments below. We are always open to interesting new eco-friendly ideas and solutions.