Use colored-coded rags to cut down on paper towels

This idea comes to us from Alissa, via the unpaper towel post comments:

It's not very fancy, but when we ditched paper towels I just bought one of these big packs of microfiber towels.

We use different colors for different stuff:

  • blue in the bathrooms
  • yellow for "paper towel" messes and food related cleanups
  • green for deeper cleaning in the kitchen and rest of the house

I keep a small bin in the bathroom and under the kitchen sink to collect laundry from both places and wash regularly. It's great!

  1. Growing up, my family never used paper towel. These days, I do tend to have them in stock in the house, but I use regular cloths for the vast majority of cleaning. All of mine are white so that I can occasionally clean them with bleach to get any stains out and make them look pretty.

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    • The only problem with color coding is the unpredictable availability of the colors.

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    • I do different storage spots instead of color coding: Need to dry the dishes? Use a towel from the drawer (clean) then hang it up on a towel rack. Need to wipe the counter or the floor? Use a towel that's hanging on the rack. If it's gross when you're done or you used it on the floor, it's dirty and goes in the bin.

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  2. I love the idea of color coding – especially since I often find my dear, sweet, well-intentioned-but-not-always-attentive-to-detail partner using a rag to, say, wipe something up off the floor, and then turning around and using the same rag on the counter/table/dishes!! I get exasperated with him because to me it seems obvious that this is, er, a bit counter-productive in terms of cleanliness, and then he gets exasperated that I'm too critical of his attempts to help. :) So, color coding could be a nice way to solve this problem!

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  3. Pretty much any excuse to have rainbow anything makes me feel fuzzy inside. I would rainbow everything if I could. I think I'm a color hoarder.

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    • My brother is colorblind and yet he can still detect some color differences. It depends on what colors he is "blind" to. There are different variations of color blindness. Unless he has the form where he is blind to all colors, then you would just pick some that he could definitely distinguish between. My brother can't tell the difference between red and green or purple and blue. So for him, I wouldn't use both purple and blue as two of the colors (he would mix them up). I would use blue, red, and black. They may not look the same to him as they do you, but he could distinguish a difference between the three colors.

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      • Thanks to you both for the colorblind suggestions! He can distinguish certain colors, but he may just be patternblind as well as I've already tried that option and keep finding both patterns in both places. ;-)

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        • This could simply be not caring, or simply not understanding the point. I'm not saying you are having this issue, but I know sometimes *I* like to implement new ideas (in this kind of vein) without really discussing the pros and cons with my partner. Really sitting him down and explaining why it is important that he keep the towels separate helped (because my OCD is going crazy and damnit this is something I can control and it helps me stop washing my hands every time I touch a towel). Also explaining HOW things are sorted (and ahem, folded and stacked) as well as how to tell what each kind of towel is for really helped.

          Like I had the old white washcloths for cleaning the bathroom because they started out as bathroom cloths to begin with, blue & green for dishes because they're watery/match the soap, yellow and orange for the floor & gross stuff because we hate those colors so eff 'em. Hand towels have decorations and are different sizes anyway. And bar towels for the counters just like at work in the bar. Once I explained the reasoning, he was totally on board and never messes it up.

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  4. I do this! Green for loo, orange for floor, multicoloured for sink.. And I thought i was incredibly anal especially when including it in the note for the house sitters!

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  5. Does the color-coding really matter that much? I use mine all over the place. Once I get done with one area (say, the kitchen counter) it goes in the laundry.

    I keep paper towels around for cat barf, though.

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    • My color-coded system all gets washed together (though the bathroom cleaning cloths get washed with the bathroom towels). I know it probably makes it all not make a difference but it can help with my kind of phobia.

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