We have a little ongoing dispute in our house, the great paper towel debate! It pains me to use paper towels whereas Big Smith enjoys the convenience and is fairly liberal with his paper towel usage. One of his points is that he is never sure with cloth rags what they were used for last (not so great to wipe our son's face with a towel last used to dry your own dirty hands), so he has to use a new one each time and that adds up to crazy volumes of wash.
I took his complaint to heart but was not deterred! Instead I doubled down and put into action this color coded system that lets us keep track of how we use our rags and cut down on paper and water waste. Is this verging on OCD? Yes. Why is that a problem? :)
First I made a list of the different ways that we use paper towels, dish towels, and wash clothes. For us it came down to kitchen, bath, highchair (yes- it needs it's own category because it does get that filthy), kid (as in wiping food off of him), and then I threw in a wildcard for any other uses that might crop up.
I found some basic wash cloths in the children's department at Ikea that are a perfect size and also have colored tabs so that I could assign each one to a different use and keep them straight. They were only four dollars for ten so I bought several packages. Another option would be to get different colored cloths, or if you were crafty you could sew custom tabs onto basic white wash cloths. I actually like white because I like to know if something is dirty or stained... back to that OCD thing again.
Generally it has been working out well, Big Smith does forget some of the color assignments (even with the list I posted on the kitchen chalkboard), but he always remembers that blue is for Little Smith and that cuts down on a lot of paper towels that were once used for wiping jam covered hands.
Once the rags get overly stained with food they get demoted to floor scrubbing duty which actually works out perfectly. Our dining/ playroom floor needs a weekly scrubbing (at least), and for some strange reason Little Smith loves to help out with this chore.
We still use paper towels more than I'd like, but this system has definitely helped and I am a fan of both order and all things rainbow colored so they make me happy stacked in the linen cabinet. I will say that they aren't the softest of wash clothes so if you like super soft for your baby's face you may want to go the DIY route.
A friend of ours who saw the list of colors and chores recently laughed at me for this craziness. He said I should just stop buying paper towels and that would be a lot easier! True, but I still think it's a good idea and I'm sticking to it. :)