Just a few generations back, the formula for a spiffy house contained two simple elements at its core: a high stack of rags and plentiful elbow grease. Then came specialized cleaners (window cleaners, oven cleaners, furniture polish, etc.) and a newfangled wave of disposable cleaning aids, led of course by the ubiquitous paper towel.
No doubt that paper towels are convenient, especially when there's a puddle of freshly spilled grape juice about to hit the floor. But that convenience has its costs, both to the environment and your wallet. In the U.S. paper towels alone make up 2% of all landfill space. And if you pay $10 for an 8-roll pack that lasts two weeks, you'll spend $260 a year, when cloth wipes could've done the same job for just pennies.
This article examines some of the most popular disposable cleaning products, and what they'll cost you over the course of a year, along with far less expensive, more eco-friendly alternatives. (Note that yearly projections for disposable products do not include tax.)