Yesterday, a friend was visiting and I wanted to send her home with a few cookies. I started to put them in an old cottage cheese container. "You could just give me a paper towel, if it’s easier," she said. "Probably not, since I don’t have any!" I replied.
Not stocking paper towels is one of those habits of ours that makes our parents think we’re crazy. We do have them sometimes–like if we know we’re going to be frying eggplant and need something to drain it on. But we don’t habitually buy them. I can’t ever remember keeping them around as a kitchen staple.
What do people use paper towels for, anyway? Wiping up spills, I guess–that’s according to every paper towel commercial I’ve ever seen. In my experience dishtowels do a fine job absorbing liquids (and if you’re wiping up something you can’t wash out of a dishtowel, you need to ask yourself what that substance was doing in your kitchen in the first place).
I suppose one might also use paper towels for periodic cleaning, but why not just use a sponge? Even the disposable kind scrub better and last longer. Wadded-up newspaper does pretty well on glass and mirrors.
Of course, cleaning is pretty personal, and people tend to get attached to their own methods. I myself go through more of those disposable sponges than I’d like to admit. (I did buy a packet of washable "sponge cloths," and they worked quite well.)
Anyone want to defend the paper towel?