Unpaper Towels: Easy DIY Tutorial

Check out this easy tutorial for “unpaper” towels that roll up and velcro together like a roll of paper towels. Unpaper towels are an eco-friendly and stylish way to reduce your waste. Want to know more? Follow my tips below to reduce your plastic use and the use of single use products.
Learn how to make these simple unpaper towel tutorial
This post was updated 10/9/2018

DIY Unpaper Towels are a great way to be stylish and eco-friendly at the same time! It all started when my friend Sarah posted something on Facebook that she wanted someone to get unpaper towels from a seller on Etsy for a wedding present. They were over $50, plus shipping! I told her I would make them for her instead, and thankfully, she loved the idea. 

Aren’t these a great way to be more eco-friendly? We are constantly trying to find ways to reduce trash and lower our carbon footprint (like cloth diapering, making our own cleaners, ditching plastic, and making homemade products). Plus, I’m super cheap and hate buying paper towels. They are so expensive, and you literally buy them just to throw them away. Geesh. It’s like throwing money in the trash. 

There are so many ways to be more eco-conscious these days, and one of the first and easiest things to do is to reduce your consumption of single-use products and reduce plastic. Single-use products are things (ahem, like paper towels) that you would use one time and then throw them away. They contribute to unnecessary and excess trash, which is never a good thing. Of course, sometimes we don’t have another option other than to use single use products. Back in the day, like when I originally wrote this post, I was a huge stickler. I used to think there was never an appropriate time for a single-use product.

Then I had kids and had to learn some grace. It’s good to be aware of problems with our environment and the unsustainable amount of trash we create. But, we each individually can only do so much, and sometimes we fall back on having to use single-use products. Like when we redid our kitchen and had to rely on a lot of paper plates and microwaveable meals. It killed me a little inside, but I gave myself grace. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have, right?

Anyway, these Unpaper Towels are a great way to ditch the paper towels and be a little more eco-friendly. 

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How To Reduce Plastic Use And Single Use Products.

  • Choose glass or metal straws instead of plastic ones.
  • Use reusable containers to bring your lunch to work. These glass containers are awesome! 
  • Instead of paper napkins, try cloth napkins. 
  • Bring a reusable glass or metal water bottle instead of buying plastic ones. 
  • Keep a set of silverware in your car if you have to go out to eat.
  • Use beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap.

Unpaper Towel Materials

  • Terry cloth – about 1/2 yard
  • Cotton or flannel fabric – about 1/2 yard
  • Matching thread
  • Velcro

Unpaper Towels Tutorial

Step 1: Cut terry cloth and cotton or flannel fabric into 10 equal squares that are 10 by 10 of both fabrics. Make sure they are very even!
Cutting fabric for unpaper towels
Step 2: Pin right sides together and sew like a pillow leaving about a 3″ gap to turn right side out. Sometimes, I like to cut off extra fabric on the corners.
*To make this easier and skip a step, you could pin wrong sides together and surge the whole thing and then follow the remaining steps.
Sewing unpaper towels
Step 3: Turn right side out and then iron flat.
Ironing unpaper towels flat
Step 4: Top stitch around the edges about 1/4” from the seam. Then through the middle of the unpaper towel, sew a wiggly line from one corner to the adjacent corner. This ensures when you wash it that they fabric in the middle doesn’t come apart, which is very annoying.
Sewing line down the bidding of the unpaper towel
Step 5: Cut velcro into squares and sew on velcro. I sewed the soft velcro on the terry cloth side and the rougher velcro on the cotton side. Sew two of each on each side. If you have a snap applicator (like this one)  it would be a lot easier to use snaps instead of velcro!
Sewing velcro on unpaper towels
Sew two of the same velcro on two corner and the opposite velcro on the other side on the other corners without velcro. Sounds kind of confusing, but hopefully the picture above helps.
sewing velcro on unpaper towels
Unpaper Towels
Step 6: Put the velcro together and roll up like a paper towel roll. Every time you need unpaper towels, just “tear” one off. Use it and wash.

Aren’t these unpaper towels really adorable and fun? I wish I got to keep them! This is a great weekend project and so eco-friendly! What do you do to reduce trash?

Need more eco-friendly ideas… check these out!



  1. What a great idea, and such pretty fabric color choices you made! We are semi-eco-friendly and use cloth baby wipes, but still haven’t ditched the paper towels 100%. I love this idea and will definitely be sharing it!

  2. These are SO cute! Do they really work well and stand up to washing, etc? I’ve been wondering how long they last.

    1. They should hold up fine but if your worried about the velcro I would use snaps instead! Plus it may take less time than sewing the velcro!

  3. Those are really cute for a gift. Me, I just use cut up pieces of old material. It’s a little simpler! And if I have to clean up something really gunky and decide to just throw away the rag, then I’m only throwing away something that was destined for the garbage anyway.

  4. These are awesome! I have a snap tool and snaps…they are sold at Joanna in their cloth baby lines supplies line. Babyville Boutique…I cant wait to make these! What it the girth when they are all rolled up? Will they fit on a papertowel dispensor?

    1. Thanks Melanie! I wish I could tell you the girth but I can’t because I gave them to a friend as a wedding gift! They should be able to fit on a normal towel dispenser! A snap tool would be much easier! I would have rather done that but didn’t own one so just went with the velcro! Hope you have fun making them!

  5. I LOVE this idea! I’m going out to get the materials today to make them. This is the perfect birthday gift for my mom-in-law who is against the use of paper towels. I’m buying extra because I want a roll too! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  6. That is such a cool idea. Thank you for sharing. I’m going to pull out my ancient sewing machine and try this.

    1. I was so excited when I found this fabric! I don’t know if it actually makes me want to clean haha! Thanks for coming over Leslie! Hope to hear from you again!

  7. Hi! I love this idea! I have been looking for a tutorial using velcro. I was wondering if you have noticed the velcro becoming dull after a few washes?


  8. I’m so glad I found these. Somebody had received these (they were a little smaller) and had given them to me. I kept thinking they weren’t thick enough to be pot holders and now I finally know what they are! Can’t wait to make some of these bigger ones! Great idea!

  9. Love how these came out! I’m wondering if you can use them for all the ‘tough’ jobs specifically to lay bacon to get the extra grease off? I’ve tried doing this with cloth napkins and I’ve never been able to get out the grease. Any ideas how these hold up to stains??

  10. I am by no means a crafty person but want to give these a try. I am trying to figure out that second step where you said sew the right sides together. Exactly which way is the terry cloth and fabric facing when I sew them together?

    Thank You!


    1. Should be right sides together. That way when you sew around the edge and leave an opening you can flip them right sides out. Does that make sense?

  11. Hi, I love this idea. I was wondering why do you use a cotton/flannel fabric for one side. Why not keep it as a terry so both sides can be used as to absorb liquids better.

    1. Thanks for sharing! I bought two new towels one plain yellow and another a dark and light gray chevron pattern. I’m cutting them up now to make these for a Christmas gift! So excited to finish them!
      p.s. a pair of snap pliers is only around $20 and super easy to use! I didnt know (until too late) that there are snap pliers for plastic snaps and ones for metal snaps, they are not interchangeable as far as I know.

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