A Smart Way to Use Fewer Paper Towels

paper-towels_300Whether you’re looking to cut down on buying excess paper towel  for economical or environmental reasons, try this clever trick Joe Smith, an “advocate for proper paper towel usage,” gave at a recent TED Talk: After washing your hands, shake your hand twelve (“the biggest number with one syllable”) quick times, and then dry with one piece of folder paper towel.

It sounds so simple, but there’s a bit of science behind the shake and fold method. Watch the whole presentation here, and then get more painless ways to make your home greener.



  1. lisaethorpe

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    January 31, 2014 at 11:41 am
  2. lisaethorpe


    January 31, 2014 at 11:44 am
  3. Brad E Wakeman

    I use two . . . one for sanitary reasons to turn of the water and wipe around the sink and counter area; the second I use to dry my hands and then open the door, so I don’t touch the handle, before tossing.

    January 31, 2014 at 3:44 pm
  4. Berlind Mikolayczyk

    Who says you have to toss the paper towel every time? I keep slightly used ones around to wipe up little spills on the kitchen counter (or floor for that matter) and toss them after 2nd or 3rd use.

    January 31, 2014 at 4:59 pm
  5. decosalledebain

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    January 31, 2014 at 7:41 pm
  6. Megan

    Editing note on the title–It should read “A Smart Way to Use Fewer Paper Towels.”

    February 1, 2014 at 12:37 am
  7. Pazu Kong

    Another way to dry your hands after washing is, if you’re wearing short-sleeved shirt, then wipe your wet right hand on your left arm, then wet left hand on your right arm. You will be dry very soon.

    I just did a simple test, I went into the toilet, washed my hand, wiped my hands on both arms, then came back and typed on the keyboard without feeling awkward.

    It may not be the best way, but you save one paper. The reason why I washed my hands after toilet is to clean the bacteria from my hands, I think my arms are clean.

    February 2, 2014 at 10:22 am
  8. Adrianna

    Who wipes up where you shook your hands? Hmm!

    February 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm
  9. Gayle

    I find that shaking that much is both messy and annoying to anyone near you. I squeeze each hand with the other, and swipe toward my fingertips before using the papertowel. I also sometimes have to pat my hands on my jeans if there are no towels. What is the bacterial content of your clothing if you must resort to using your pants as a towel?

    February 3, 2014 at 3:08 pm
  10. Beth

    uh, you shake your hands over the sink Adrianna

    February 3, 2014 at 3:17 pm
  11. Sandra

    I’ve been trying this – it really works! I used to use 2 or 3 paper towels, but now I can actually use just 1.

    February 3, 2014 at 3:49 pm
  12. Mer

    Stupid video… To go green use cloth towels.

    February 3, 2014 at 4:26 pm
  13. Reggie

    I usually dry mine by “flinging” my fingertips a few times toward the mirror, or toward a friend or relative if they are nearby and then wipe my hands on my shirt. Then I look to see if I left a creative spot on the mirror and laugh if it looks like an animal or a religious figure.
    I didn’t even consider that I was saving paper or electric, I just think it is fun.

    February 3, 2014 at 6:46 pm
  14. jones

    he is wasting towels for no reason in this video!! hahahaha

    February 4, 2014 at 12:46 am

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