Alternatives to Microfiber Towels

Microfiber towels have become a popular choice for cleaning due to their ability to effectively remove dirt, dust, and grime from various surfaces.

Alternatives to Microfiber Towels

However, there are growing concerns about the environmental impact of these towels, particularly the release of microplastics into waterways during washing.

Cloth Diaper Inserts

One of the most recommended alternatives to microfiber towels is cloth diaper inserts. These inserts are typically made from 100% cotton and are designed to be highly absorbent and durable. Here’s why cloth diaper inserts are a great choice:

  • Absorbency: Cloth diaper inserts are meant to handle liquid spills and messes, making them incredibly absorbent. They can soak up water-based cleaners or other liquid messes with ease.
  • Size: Diaper inserts are often larger than standard microfiber cloths, allowing you to cover more surface area with each wipe.
  • Strength: The cotton fabric used in diaper inserts is strong and resistant to tearing, providing a longer lifespan than microfiber towels.
  • Easy to Wash: Since cloth diaper inserts are designed for handling messes, they can be washed with your regular laundry without any special treatment.
  • Cost-Effective: While the initial cost of purchasing cloth diaper inserts may be higher than microfiber towels, their durability and reusability make them a more cost-effective option in the long run.

Key Takeaway: Cloth diaper inserts are an eco-friendly, highly absorbent, and cost-effective alternative to microfiber towels, making them an excellent choice for your cleaning needs.

Cotton Towels and Rags

Another viable alternative to microfiber towels is good old-fashioned cotton towels and rags. These can be made from old t-shirts, towels, or even purchased as dedicated cleaning rags. Here are some advantages of using cotton towels and rags:

  • Absorbency: Cotton is a natural fiber that is highly absorbent, making it effective for cleaning up spills and messes.
  • Durability: Well-made cotton towels and rags can last for years with proper care and washing.
  • Versatility: Cotton towels and rags can be used for a wide range of cleaning tasks, from dusting to scrubbing, and can be easily folded or cut to the desired size.
  • Eco-Friendly: Cotton is a natural, biodegradable material, making it a more environmentally friendly option than synthetic microfiber.
  • Cost-Effective: Repurposing old towels and t-shirts as cleaning rags is an inexpensive way to reduce waste and save money.

Key Takeaway: Cotton towels and rags are a versatile, durable, and eco-friendly alternative to microfiber towels, making them a practical choice for various cleaning tasks.

Bar Mops and Shop Towels

If you’re looking for an alternative that’s specifically designed for cleaning, consider bar mops or shop towels. These towels are commonly used in commercial and industrial settings but can also be effective for household cleaning. Here are some key features:

  • Absorbency: Bar mops and shop towels are highly absorbent, making them ideal for soaking up spills and cleaning solutions.
  • Durability: These towels are designed to withstand heavy use and frequent washing, ensuring a long lifespan.
  • Versatility: Bar mops and shop towels can be used for a variety of cleaning tasks, from wiping down surfaces to scrubbing floors.
  • Cost-Effective: While individual towels may be more expensive than microfiber cloths, their durability and reusability can make them a cost-effective option in the long run.
  • Eco-Friendly: Many bar mops and shop towels are made from natural fibers, such as cotton or linen, making them a more environmentally friendly choice than synthetic microfiber.

Key Takeaway: Bar mops and shop towels are durable, absorbent, and versatile alternatives to microfiber towels, making them a practical choice for heavy-duty cleaning tasks.

Comparison of Alternatives

To help you choose the best alternative for your needs, here’s a table comparing the different options:

Cloth Diaper InsertsExcellentHighHighHigh
Cotton Towels/RagsGoodModerateHighHigh
Bar Mops/Shop TowelsExcellentHighModerateHigh


Are these alternatives as effective as microfiber towels for cleaning?

While microfiber towels are known for their excellent cleaning ability, the alternatives mentioned in this article can be just as effective, if not more so, in certain situations. Cloth diaper inserts and bar mops are highly absorbent and can handle liquid messes with ease, while cotton towels and rags are versatile and can be used for a variety of cleaning tasks.

Can these alternatives be used on all surfaces?

Yes, most of these alternatives can be used on various surfaces, including countertops, floors, and even delicate surfaces like glass and mirrors. However, it’s essential to ensure that the material you’re using is appropriate for the surface you’re cleaning and that you’re using the correct cleaning solutions.

How do I care for and maintain these alternatives?

Proper care and maintenance can extend the lifespan of these alternatives. Cloth diaper inserts, cotton towels, and rags can be machine washed and dried, while bar mops and shop towels may require specific care instructions from the manufacturer. It’s essential to avoid using fabric softeners or harsh chemicals, as they can reduce the absorbency of the material.

Are these alternatives more expensive than microfiber towels?

The initial cost of some of these alternatives, like cloth diaper inserts or bar mops, may be higher than microfiber towels. However, their durability and reusability make them a more cost-effective option in the long run. Using cotton towels and rags made from repurposed materials can be an inexpensive and eco-friendly choice.


While microfiber towels have been a popular choice for cleaning, there are several eco-friendly alternatives that can be just as effective, if not more so.

Cloth diaper inserts, cotton towels and rags, and bar mops or shop towels are all excellent options that offer different advantages in terms of absorbency, durability, and versatility.

By choosing these alternatives, you can not only reduce your environmental impact but also potentially save money in the long run.

Emma Kellam
Emma Kellam

I'm Emma, and I run Towels Edition, a website for fellow home goods enthusiasts who, like me, are passionate about textiles. After working in high-end retail, I was amazed by how little most people (myself included!) know about all the towel options out there.

I research and write all the content myself. Whether it's specialized towels like bar mops, Turkish cotton production methods, or comparing hair towel absorbency, I cover it. My goal is to share my knowledge and enthusiasm to help others.

Running Towels Edition allows me to constantly expand my own expertise too. I love learning about innovations in bamboo fabric or ideal bath towels. It's so rewarding to receive emails thanking me for recommendations that improved my readers' routines.

I want Towels Edition to be the ultimate online towel resource, making this overlooked necessity far more fascinating. My aim is to open people's eyes to how specialty towels can thoroughly enhance hygiene, cleaning, recreation and self-care.