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The Ultimate List of Helpful Uses For Paper Towels

Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links. As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Today’s post is sponsored by Viva®. I have received free product and compensation to help me learn more about Viva® Vantage® products to facilitate the creation of this post. All opinions within the post are my own.

My family uses a lot of paper towels. They are so practical for a number of everyday uses well beyond drying hands or wiping up messes.

I recently attended a special event to learn more about Viva® Vantage® paper towels and their 7-Day Switch Up campaign. They are so excited about their V-Flex™ Weave technology and the added stretch, strength, and absorbency it creates, they’re convinced that if you switch up your paper towels and give Viva® Vantage® a try, you’ll be pleased with the results.

After using the Viva® brand myself, I agree. It’s no wonder it was named a 2015 Product of the Year. To help you explore all the ways a high-quality paper towel can improve your life, I’ve created the ultimate list of helpful uses for paper towels. You’re probably already using paper towels in many of these ways, but hopefully you’ll discover some new ideas for making your daily life easier.

The Ultimate List of Helpful Uses for Paper Towels - 27 ways to make everyday life easier

Food Uses

Keep greens and herbs fresh

Wrap salad greens and fresh herbs loosely in a paper towel before storing in the refrigerator. Wrapped in the paper towel place them in a plastic bag, or for even better results, a plastic storage container.

Clean food

A moist paper towel is the best way to clean mushrooms since it’s the only way to remove all the dirt without water logging the mushrooms and ruining their flavor. The revolutionary V-Flex­™ Weave technology in Viva® Vantage® is so strong, you can even wash berries and grapes.

Clean Fruit


Remove silk from corn

A damp paper towel grabs silks from corn husks easily, making it much faster and easier to prepare corn on the cob.

Keep frozen bread from getting soggy

If you buy bread in bulk and store the extra loaves in the freezer, put a paper towel in the bag before putting it in the freezer. When you are ready to thaw and use the bread, the paper towel will absorb the excess moisture and prevent the bread from getting soggy.

Soften brown sugar

If your brown sugar has hardened, place it in a bowl and cover with a damp paper towel. Let it sit for several hours and then easily break up the clumps. If you’re in a hurry, place the brown sugar in a bowl with a moist paper towel and microwave for 20-30 seconds.

Keep icing from drying out

When icing a cake, cookies or baked goods, place a damp paper towel in the bottom of a glass and place the piping bag (tip down) in the glass to prevent it from drying out between decorating stages.

Cook bacon in the microwave

To cook bacon in the microwave, place two paper towels on a microwave-safe plate. Lay bacon on top of the paper towels and top with another two paper towels. Microwave on high for 4-6 minutes. Discard the paper towels (and all the grease!).

Dry meat before seasoning or cooking

Patting your steaks, pork, or chicken dry before cooking allows you to get a better sear. Also, if you are breading or seasoning meat, more of it will adhere to the meat if it is dry.

Strain pulp from juice

If half of your family likes pulp in their orange juice or lemonade but the other half doesn’t, instead of buying twice as much juice, you can use a paper towel to strain the pulp out for those who prefer their juice without it.

Strain grease from broth

Paper towels are also great for straining the grease from cooking broth. Just line a colander with a paper towel and then pour the broth through it into a bowl. The paper towel will catch-all the grease and fat.

Strain packaged food

If you’re using a paper towel with sufficient stretch-strength like Viva® Vantage®, you can strain almost anything else (weaker paper towels will fall apart). Use them to strain the excess liquid from yogurt. Or strain the water from canned goods like olives and mushrooms.

Steam food

Wrap any food or cover a bowl of food in a damp paper towel to steam it in the microwave. This works especially well for vegetables, but also works for hot dog buns and tortillas.

Prevent cutting board from slipping

Make food prep safer by placing your cutting board on a damp paper towel. It will keep the board from slipping while you are slicing and dicing.

Cutting Board

Kitchen Cleaning Uses

Prevent microwave messes

Although we have a vented microwave food cover to place over dishes and prevent spatters when reheating food, when it is in the dishwasher I use a paper towel instead. Because it sits loosely atop a plate or bowl, it allows steam to escape but not food.

Clean can opener

To easily remove all the gunk that builds up in can openers, clamp the can opener down on a paper towel and pretend like you are opening a can. The gunk will transfer from the mechanism to the paper towel and you can throw the mess away.

Can Opener

Clean and store cast iron

The best way to clean cast iron is to rinse it in water while scrubbing any food remnants away. I use a Viva® Vantage® paper towel for this since it has great scrubbing power. After you’ve rinsed the cast iron well, dry it over heat (stove, grill or campfire) and wipe a thin layer of cooking oil over the entire inner surface using a paper towel. Then, line the inner surface with a paper towel before storing to prevent rust.

Cast Iron

Make fridge clean up easier

It’s easy to keep your refrigerator clean if you line drawers, shelves, and bins with paper towels. Anytime there is a spill or drip, you can easily throw the mess away and replace with a new paper towel.

Clean stovetops without scratching up the surface

Stovetops get very dirty very quickly thanks to spatters, spills, and grease from cooking. It can be hard to get them spotless, especially if food has baked or dried onto the surface without some heavy-duty scrubbing. Unfortunately, the scrubbing side of my kitchen sponge scratches up the surface of my stove.  Viva® Vantage® paper towels are perfect for this job since they stretch to scrub and don’t leave lint behind.

Other Cleaning Uses

Remove wax

If you’ve spilled wax on the carpet or your child has drawn on the walls with crayon, you can easily remove the wax with some paper towels and an iron. Just place a couple of paper towels over the wax/crayon and then run the iron over the paper towel. Make sure you set the iron on the lowest heat setting to avoid damaging the surface of the item you are cleaning.

Remove residual grease from sewing machines

It’s important to regularly clean and oil your sewing machine to keep it working properly. An easy way to remove the residual grease after you’ve tuned it up is to run a paper towel through the feed a couple of times.

Dry thin-necked vases

Vases with thin necks often don’t dry completely due to the lack of air flow and then spots or mildew develop in the bottom of the vase. To avoid this, roll a paper towel to form a straw shape and then slide it into the vase and swirl around to dry the bottom.

Make homemade baby wipes

Baby wipes are seemingly inexpensive (typically less than 4 cents per wipe) but the cost adds up over time. You can cut the cost to under 1 cent per wipe my making your own with paper towels (that’s less than 1/4 the cost of store-bought!). This video shows you how:

Make homemade disinfecting wipes

Likewise, you can save over 3 cents per wipe by making your own disinfecting wipes with paper towels.


Even More Uses!


Paper towels are excellent compost material because they break down easily and their structure creates pockets in the compost material to aid in the growth of helpful bacteria. So, after you’ve used your paper towel in any of the above functions, throw it in the compost bin instead of the trash.

Test seed viability

Before investing a ton of time and effort planting seeds that may or may not be viable, wrap a couple in a wet paper towel, place inside a plastic bag, and set in a windowsill. Check each day to make sure the towel is still damp. The seeds should sprout if they are viable. If they don’t you can pitch the pack.

Prevent wet book pages from drying wrinkled

If you’re an avid reader, you probably enjoy a good book while lounging at the pool or relaxing in the tub. Unfortunately, this can lead to the occasional mishap leaving you with soggy pages. Before you throw out the book, try placing paper towels between wet pages. This might save the book and will keep the pages from wrinkling as they dry.

Chill wine quickly

Because I’m a red wine drinker, I always forget to chill white wine before I have company over. The fastest way to chill wine isn’t burying it in ice. Instead, wrap the bottle in a damp paper towel and put it in the freezer.

I hope you found some helpful ideas to make your busy life a little easier. Which ones are you most excited to try during the 7-Day Switch Up? Don’t forget to print your $1 off coupon when you take the challenge!


Special thanks to Viva® for sponsoring today’s post. 


16 thoughts on “The Ultimate List of Helpful Uses For Paper Towels”

  1. My mom read years ago I believe Dear Eloise, not sure. Use paper towels to wipe outTupperware that had pasta sauce stored in it before washing with soap and water. It will get rid of the red stain.

  2. I cant live without paper towels in my house. I use them or almost everything, and the Viva brand is my favorite. Thank you for sharing this post with us, now I know I’m not the only paper towel fan.

  3. I have to admit that I didn’t know there were so many great ways to use a paper towel! You listed ideas that I would have never thought about. I tried Viva® Vantage® and I really enjoyed them – I didn’t think I would, but I was happy to be wrong. I now have a new favorite paper towel!

  4. I never thought of using it to soften brown sugar! Lot’s of cool tips in the post. Definitely plenty that I’ve never thought of before. Who knew paper towels were so versatile?

  5. I use and love Viva paper towels! I really had no idea there were so many uses though. What a great list you have put together! I want to try out making my own baby wipes.

    Thanks for this great list! I will be sure to share on Pinterest so I can reference it in the future 🙂

  6. You’ve given me so many new (to me) ideas for how to use paper towels. I’m excited about using them to remove corn silk (I can’t stand that task and often don’t buy fresh corn just for that reason even though we all love to eat fresh corn in the summer).

  7. Corn silk is my nemesis–I’m trying this tip! And, I had no idea that you could rescue hardened brown sugar. Thanks for this useful info!

  8. OMGee, I so needed to know this about the tip for softening brown sugar. I struggle with this when baking. I had no idea this would work but it does! Thanks for the tip.

    • I’m glad you found something helpful in the list. I love the brown sugar trick. It’s a real life saver when you’re in the middle of baking and the brown sugar has gone hard!

    • I know what you mean! I can’t tell you how many times I wasted so much time trying to pull each strand off of an ear of corn!


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