Sorry for starting yet another cast iron thread, but my search didn't turn up an answer to my particular question. I'm rather new to cast iron - bought a 12" Lodge skillet a few weeks ago. Following the advice of many people from here and other boards/blogs, I use paper towels for just about everything related to the pan ... wiping it out after use, drying it after boiling water to loosen burnt-on crud, wiping on lard/oil for storage, coating the pan with lard/oil for seasoning, etc.
So today I did the math and I was horrified to find that if I keep using the pan as much as I do now, I'll spend more than $100 a year on paper towels to clean and maintain it! I might as well have bought a Le Creuset enameled pan and been done with it - the total cost of ownership would probably have been far less at this rate. Not to mention the enormous volume of greasy paper towels that will wind up in the local landfill.
I'd use an old T-shirt or dish towel for all this, except that I don't want to have to throw those out after I've used them, either. I'd be afraid to put them in the laundry for fear that they'd either stain my other clothes or catch on fire in the dryer. I've also heard of people using a silicone basting brush to oil cast iron for storage, but opinion is mixed as to its effectiveness.
Anyone got a paper towel-free method of cleaning and maintaining cast iron they want to share?