Sunday, 4 September 2016

Reusable kitchen wipes and plarn basket

Spilled milk on the table. Spilled juice on the floor. Ketchup in fingers. Kethup on chair. Ketchup on hair. Food around the plate. Sounds familiar? If it does then you probable have kids and you know that to clean all that you need lots of kitchen paper. It seems that I have to replace empty kitchen paper roll with new one every other day.

With two kids around we run through 2-3 kitchen paper rolls per week, easily! They aren't free either, something like 50-60 cents / piece so if you make a rough calculation it makes 50-100 € in a year, depending on how much you use it, naturally. Might be less but as we are closer to 100 € with only two kids I don't want to know what the cost is in the families with more kids!

Something had to be done. To save money of course but also this is good for reducing one's carbon footprint.

I speak of course about reusable kitchen wipes or unpaper towel, reusable kitchen wipes, paperless towel, reusable paper or reusable cloth. All of these are names I found when searching for tips on Pinterest, I call them just rags or wipes. They aren't the ones you use for cleaning the kitchen surfaces but wipes that replace the kitchen paper roll that is used to clean up small things.

I saw some great tutorials about how to make them, it seems it is popular to make them as a roll with snaps and everything but the amount of work they need and all just so you can wipe out the ketchup from small fingers! They are also quite thick with two layers; one with pretty colour cotton fabric and one with towel. 

Those thick ones would be great to replace the kitchen cloth used for cleaning the surfaces and I might be doing those too but I already use some shop bought kitchen cloths that can be washed anyway several times before throwing away.

Let's cut down the paper consumption first!

These unpaper kitchen wipes are made out of old dish towels. They were just cut in small pieces and then I used overlocker to finish the edges. So simple and fast! I also cut these smaller than the usual kitchen paper as the dish towel is so much more absorbent than the paper. 

Then I needed something to store them in.

Where are all the cartoon boxes when you need one? Definitely not somewhere to be found, at least not the empty ones so I looked into the cupboards and found something that was just the right size! Only it was almost full of tea bags. I just looked a new box for them and had a cartoon box with nice colour inside and covered it with a fabric scrap on the outside. The idea is to have the box on the dining table and it doesn't even take that much more space than the new kitchen paper roll does.

I tried these kind of reusable kitchen wipes couple years back but then the problem was that they had to be taken into the laundry basket. I probably would do it but the rest of the family? Not likely to happen. I knew that to make this project to actually work they should be as easy to use and throw away as the kitchen paper.

How is it as easy then? Have something to throw them to that is at least as close as the trash bin! No excuses there anymore. I don't want anything more stuff on the tables than there already is so the only logical solution was to find a place for used wipes somewhere around the trash bin.

Of course I could have bought a plastic box and attach it with screws inside the the trash bin cupboard door. But there is enough stuff in our household without me buying new one for something like this. However, I didn't find anything suitable, mainly it was the size that made it difficult as it was supposed to be hanging inside the door. There aren't much space. Also it had to be easy to clean so no cartoon box would suit for that one.

Then I decided I would try out something I have been looking for a while now - crochet a basket with plarn! Easy to clean, easy to make the size I want.

Plarn (=plastic yarn) is very good example about upcycling something. You can cut your old plastic bags very easily into plarn and then crochet it with usual hook. I cut my plarn strips about 2cm wide and used hook of 7mm. Mind you, even for a project like this I chose the plastic bags that had some holes in them. The whole ones could still be used as trash bags!

Plarn can be cut in many ways but I think it is the best to cut one continuous stripe for two reasons; 1. it is very fast to cut and 2. it doesn't have any knots in middle. There is a how to here:

The basked had to be oval rather than round because of the space I had decided for it. Again Pinterest is full of tutorials but they were for round baskets so I made it up while crocheting. Sorry, I don't have full tutorial for you as I didn't write it down (wasn't sure if it would even work) but if you would like to have a tutorial for oval plarn basket just ask and I will see what I can do! 

Of course the plarn basket stretches like any other crocheted work so I added some rope for two top layers:

I have no idea what the rope is, I got it from my father, might as well be something that is used when upholstering furniture. It is very stiff and definitely won't stretch! I just crocheted around it so it is hiding inside the top layers.

On the last layer I made two loops where I can hang it from:

Also the loops have rope inside.

The plarn basket will be hung inside the trash bin cupboard door, the clean reusable kitchen wipes stored in their own cartoon box on a table and all of the paper rolls hidden. There won't be any excuses not to use the reusable wipes instead of the papery ones or what do you think?


  1. Great upcycling projects! I have 'unpaper' towels in my kitchen too made from an old towel and we've been using them for years! I've tried crocheting with plastic bags once, but found it slippery and tricky (I'm only just learning to crochet) - your basket looks great!

    1. Great to hear that they have been a success! The beginning of the work was tricky as plastic is so different to handle than usual yarn and I already thought if that just isn't my thing. But after having couple layers it started to go more easily. Maybe it also depends about plastic bags how it works. Mine are slippery when cutting but when crocheting it felt like it wouldn't slide at all. But for that it helped if you weren't pulling the plarn tight. Needs some practice but isn't impossible. :)

    2. Thanks for the crochet plarn tips - I shall try again sometime!

  2. Hi there
    Just stopped by to let you know that I featured this on my Saturday Spotlight post this week!
    Saturday Spotlight
    Thanks again for linking up to A Round Tuit Hope you have a great weekend!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  3. I keep meaning to make something so I can stop buying paper towels, but haven't gotten around to it yet. I have a l bunch of flour sack towels I think I will use. This inspired me to maybe try to knit a rectangular plarn basket to fit in a cut out hole in my pull out trash bin. hmmm. . . .

    1. Sewing here is at least easy at fast, it took more time to finish the thread ends than the actual sewing part in this project. :D But you can always do that while watching tv (I like to thread the ends under the serger stitch).

      Just make sure that you support your plarn basket with something when it is hanging somewhere, it will stretch. :)