Friday, July 22, 2011

Save Money On Paper Towels - How To Cut Up Rags by Jill Cooper

Save Money On Paper Towels - How To Cut Up Rags
by Jill Cooper

One great way to save money on paper towels is to use rags more frequently. In this article, I'll briefly describe how to cut rags to get the most efficient use out of them.
When cutting a rag, you want to consider what you are going to use it for. For example, if I am going to use a rag as a dust rag I will cut it big enough so I can fold it in fourths and still have a 5-6 inch square (about). This way I can keep refolding as I dust which give me 8 sides to clean with instead of just 2. This is a good professional cleaner's tip on using any of your cleaning rags. Fold in fourths and keep refolding as you clean.
Cutting rags is great "watching TV" work and you can get the kids to do it too.

Here are some examples of how to do it:
T shirts
  1. I cut off the sleeves. If it is a long sleeve, I'll cut each sleeve in half. For dusting, I'd leave them as-is. If you are going to use them for small jobs, you might want to cut them in half again.
    • When using a sleeve, be sure to use each side and turn inside out. Use each side like you do when cleaning with a sock rag.
  2. Next I cut the sides and shoulder seams open and then cut the neck band off.
  3. Last, I cut them into the size of squares or rectangles I want. This isn't rocket science. I just eyeball it. It's only a rag. If you ruin it you can toss it, so relax.
Don't cut towels. Terry cloth frays very badly so it is best to just leave these and use wash rags for small jobs and the towels for big ones.
Note from Tawra: I keep a stack of old towels in my car and in my emergency shelter. Then if we are in an accident or tornado, someone gets hurt and there is a lot of blood we can clean it up easier. 

Cloth diapers and tea towels
Even though you can cut these, I usually don't. For example when I am washing windows, I use a corner to dry or shine and then move to another dry corner or the middle. By moving from one dry spot on the rag to the next, I can get a whole job done with one rag.

  1. Like the T shirts, I cut the sleeves first, long sleeves in half.
  2. Then cut side and shoulder seams.
  3. Cut off buttons to save.
  4. Cut the front band and collar off. Often the collar is big enough to save and use for a small wipe up job.
  5. Cut into squares or rectangles.
If I am going to use these for something like my Swiffer, I will measure and cut one for a pattern and use it as a guideline to cut more. Even these don't have to be perfect. It is just to give you a general idea.
Relax, you're just working with rags. If I have a drawer full of rags that are too big for the job at hand, I grab a pair of scissors and cut one down to the size I need. It is not big deal and it doesn't have to be perfect.
Don't feel guilty about throwing away rags.  I do it all the time and I do it guilt free. :) No wonder so many people are so stressed and uptight all the time. We can't even throw out a paper cup or use a piece of aluminum without being badgered or made to feel guilty. Rags are one thing you can throw out guilt free because, if you are like me, you have used it well in the form of clothing or linens and re-used it as a rag until it's pretty much worn out. Not only that, since I bought most of the things I wear used, my things have really been used by the time they hit the trash.

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit

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