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Germinating Seeds on Moist Paper Towels

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.

Remove silk from corn

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.

What Seeds to Start in Wet Paper Towels and Baggies?

I am so excited about this process that I will probably start most of my seeds in wet paper towels forever.

Last year I tried SO many different kinds of seeds in paper towels. We germinated all of these seeds using the wet paper towel method:

  • Peas
  • Snow Peas
  • Green Beans
  • Wax Beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli
  • Turnip
  • Beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Zinnias
  • Lemons
  • Clementine
  • Mixed Beans from a soup mix
Germinating lemon seeds in a wet paper towel is th
Germinating lemon seeds in a wet paper towel is the quickest way to grow a lemon tree from seed!

I am sure there were many others since I loved this method and kept trying it. Betting my bottom dollar there will be many more, too!

I haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard you can use paper towel germination techniques on lavender, papaya, cactus, and poppy seeds.

Worth a shot!

When sprouting seeds, paper towels moistened with water can often coax even the most stubborn seedlings out!

If you try any, hit us up in the comments and let us know how it goes, please!

Also, it’s worth noting that not all crops are best suited for paper towel germination. For example, kale germination time is very quick! You wouldn’t gain much by starting kale in wet paper towels. Meanwhile, a number of cool weather crops and some delicate flowers sometimes work better direct sown.

My very first experience with wet paper towel seed germination was with peas. And it was every bit of amazing.

I am not kidding you – they literally had their little root radicle popping out the very next morning when I checked them! Most of the seeds germinated overnight!

Just incredible!

Germinating Tomato Seeds in Paper Towel

I’m not going to lie. I got tired of waiting for my tomato seeds to germinate last season.

First, I had to find and buy Roma seeds! It felt like they were sold out everywhere (stupid pandemic!!).

Then, I ordered them and they took the better part of a week to get here!

A week is major when you wanna start a garden!

Finally, they arrived and I planted them immediately. Like, right after I opened the mailing envelope.

And waited.

Waited some more…

And waaaaaiiiittted.

You get the idea!

Finally, I got tired of waiting so I decided to try the paper towel germination method that had worked so well with our pea seedlings.

I can’t remember how long it took, but germinating tomato seeds in paper towels was way quicker than starting seeds in dirt. Planting directly in potting soil took more than 12 days if my memory serves me.

Probably closer to two weeks, but I was very impatient if I’m being honest.

Even under lights!

Needless to say, I will be germinating tomato seeds in paper towel and baggy method for the foreseeable future. 🙂

Germinating Eggplant Seeds with Paper Towel

I couldn’t get my eggplant seeds to sprout at all in traditional potting soil! Did anyone else have trouble?

I decided to try starting seeds in paper towel soaked in water in a zip-seal baggie for my eggplants this year.

Voila! Just like magic, I got excellent results germinating eggplant seeds using the wet paper towel method.

Once established, the tiny eggplant seedlings transferred very well to egg cartons with potting soil.

The eggplant seedlings also potted up well to bigger pots and grew to maturity outside.

I love that they self-pollinate! It was so exciting to see the bright purple blossom and then the purple fruit growing.

Waiting for the eggplant to grow larger, I gave the roving groundhog ample opportunity to steal it.

And steal it he did!

We were so disappointed because we still could’ve picked the eggplant small. That groundhog is the worst!

Hoping for better luck next year!

Germinating Strawberry Seeds (Paper Towel Method)

I have not tried germinating strawberry seeds in paper towels yet, but I fully believe it will work.

Last year we grew baby strawberry plants from seed in little Dixie cups on my kitchen windowsill. They did AMAZING!

Superb germination rate and adorable little plants. The worst part was they took every moment of three weeks to germinate.

I did constant water misting at least once per day, so I have full confidence they will do well with paper towel germination.

This sounds like a good gardening starter project to help chase away the winter blues!

(By the way, if you’d like to try my method, check out my other post – Planting Strawberry Seeds in Pots.

Germinating Apple Seeds in Paper Towel

Planting apple seeds is a little controversial in some of my gardening groups. It’s well-known or at least widely suggested that apple trees grown from seed do not grow true to type.

So, they may not at all resemble the parent plant.

In other worse, you may end up with a crabapple!

Or worse, no fruit at all.

Still, I am a curious gardener and love the growing process. I have heard success stories of those who’ve planted from seed.

I’ve heard grafting is the commonly used process, but I always think it’s good to give it the old college try.

Last year we found some Granny Smith apple seeds t

Last year we found some Granny Smith apple seeds that had sprouted inside the apple! We happily harvested them and transferred some to soil and some to baggies with wet paper towels.

All of them did really well!

Unfortunately, they did not get all the care needed once we moved them outside, and some got roasted before being hardened off. It breaks my heart thinking about it, actually.

Better luck next time and at least we have a pear tree growing that we started with this very same germination method!

I can’t recall if it’s a Bartlett or D’Anjou, but the way my kids devour pears, I am going to pray whatever it is decides to bear fruit in a few years!


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.

Paper Towel Method: Final Thoughts

As I’ve said, this is one of my favorite gardening adventures! I hope this guide makes it super easy for you and I’d love to hear how it goes.

Please share in the comments below and spread the love if you have other gardeners in your circle who may enjoy this fun and fast seed sprouting technique!

12.03.21 – Edited to add links to clementine and lemon tree posts.