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What do you do with wet/dirty dishcloths and dish towels before you wash a load?


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I’m curious to see if anyone has an ingenious idea for dirty dishcloths and dish towels. We go through a lot of them.  Currently I try to collect them in a bucket of vinegar water until I have a load to wash.  This doesn’t always keep down the funky odor, though.  I’d love to hear any and all ideas!

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I hang them in the basement to dry (worst funk develops when they're wet and balled up), wash on hot, and occasionally add ammonia to the wash to kill germs. Same treatment for stinky workout clothes. 

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Rinse and then put them in the microwave until they are steamy. Then we hang them to dry in the basement (not a musty basement) where the washer is. I tend to wash stuff with the potential to be gross on our washer's version of a sanitize load. It takes forever and a day, but I feel better.

 

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1 minute ago, Ellie said:

I hang them on a rack in my laundry room until they dry, then put them in a hamper until I do the laundry.

 

1 minute ago, regentrude said:

Hang them to dry, then let them sit until laundry.
There's no odor when they are thoroughly dried.

This is what we did growing up, but where I live, things just seem to get musty and moldy easily (SW Ohio). It's not just humidity--it's not a problem for relatives in even more humid regions. I think we have a lot of crud in the air. I could never make homemade diaper wipes without them molding within 48 hours. 

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I suspect that my problem is a combination of too many people always messing around in the kitchen (kids! teenagers! A husband!) and our humid climate.  

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I have an over-the-door hook on the inside of my laundry room door. I keep clothes hangers on it, and I hang wet/dirty kitchen towels and dish rags on the hangars, spaced out so that they can dry easily. Once thoroughly dry they go into a separate hamper until I have enough to do a load. I like to wash my kitchen towels and rags in their own load. I know it's not actually necessary, but still . . . I prefer to do it that way. 

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I have to keep my kitchen sink covered with racks so the kitten doesn’t hang out in the sink. I use them as a place to lay dish towels flat overnight on the racks if they are wet, then add them to the regular laundry basket in the morning.

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I throw dirty towels in the washer when used and they get washed with whatevr the next load is (except for my son's white karate uniform. IF we are washing that, I pull the dirty towels out and set them aside for the next load -- or wash something else first before washing it)

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I use nappisan - I think it is called oxyclean in the USA. I have a bucket in my bathroom that all the towels go into, and every other day I dump the towels out and fill the bucket with nappisan and throw the towels back in.  It is active for 24 hours, so I can keep adding towels to it during that time. So towels only sit damp and untreated for one day max, and I wash them every 2nd or 3rd day. It also means they get way cleaner than if you just wash them with soap.  Nappisan is a chemical sterilizer. 

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Remember you can microwave your dishcloth (or sponge) for about one minute to kill germs that make them stink. I do this before washing them. Then they hang to dry until they get washed. If a freshly-washed cloth stinks, I just pop it in the microwave. 
 

Microwave them when they are wet, not dry.

Edited by Indigo Blue
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Hang them over the rim of the laundry basket (which sits on top of the dryer in the laundry room). When dry, push them into the basket until it's time to wash a load.

 

ETA -- Ah, I see you have a different climate so you have tricky issues with smell and possible germs or mildew. It is so dry here, the towel is dry in an hour, so no smells or growth of any kind. 😉 

Edited by Lori D.
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54 minutes ago, vonfirmath said:

I throw dirty towels in the washer when used and they get washed with whatevr the next load is (except for my son's white karate uniform. IF we are washing that, I pull the dirty towels out and set them aside for the next load -- or wash something else first before washing it)

This is exactly what I do. My washer is right off my kitchen so I just throw towels straight in there. Then on wash day I do towels first. Or, if I am washing a load of nicer clothes I will pull them out and leave them on the floor in front of the washer until the next load. 

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I also toss mine directly in the washer.  It can be quite humid here so I do drape wet ones over the edge until they dry, then nudge them in.  I only do laundry once a week so they sit for a long time.  But as long as they are dry, I never have problems with funk.  I usually wash them with socks, undies, and towels.

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We only hav like 10 or so regular towels as it is.  So with 5 of us....you can see that we are washing our regular towels really often anyway.  So, I just hang the dishtowels or wash cloths near the sink and the next time I do a load of towels, I toss them in.  If they are really bad, I just put them in the empty washer and then add any towels I can find....plus add in any sheets or other similar items to make it a full enough load.  But I don't have a problem running a load that is rather small.  Our washer has a small/medium/large load setting, so if I have to I just set it to the smallest load and let it go.  I would rather wash them right away on a small load, than let them sit around and get stanky.   

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Mine are microfiber so fabric softener and bleach are out which means a separate wash. I live in a dry climate and throw them in a bucket in the laundry room sink. Fancy, right? 👸🏻 
 

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2 hours ago, hopeistheword said:

I’m curious to see if anyone has an ingenious idea for dirty dishcloths and dish towels. We go through a lot of them.  Currently I try to collect them in a bucket of vinegar water until I have a load to wash.  This doesn’t always keep down the funky odor, though.  I’d love to hear any and all ideas!

I have a small round laundry basket by my washing machine that I throw them in.   Wet.  But I wash that basket of kitchen towels often.  Twice a week or more.  

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Mine go into a small wet bag hung on a hook over our main laundry bin, which is right off the kitchen.  I figured they worked for cloth diapers, and my dish towels and dish clothes are nowhere near as gross. I have another one beside it for microfiber cleaning cloths.

They get washed on the sanitary cycle about weekly.

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2 hours ago, kbutton said:

This is what we did growing up, but where I live, things just seem to get musty and moldy easily (SW Ohio). It's not just humidity--it's not a problem for relatives in even more humid regions. I think we have a lot of crud in the air. I could never make homemade diaper wipes without them molding within 48 hours. 

I live in central Texas, which I'm sure is as humid as SW Ohio. 🙂 In California, I could just put wet cloths in a small basket in the laundry room and it was fine, but here, no. I have to lay things out flat, or hang them over a rack of some kind so they dry for a day, and then I can toss them in the laundry hamper. 🙂

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21 minutes ago, Ellie said:

I live in central Texas, which I'm sure is as humid as SW Ohio. 🙂 In California, I could just put wet cloths in a small basket in the laundry room and it was fine, but here, no. I have to lay things out flat, or hang them over a rack of some kind so they dry for a day, and then I can toss them in the laundry hamper. 🙂

Alabama here, so I’d guess were similar. I think I also just need to up my housekeeping game. 🥴

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26 minutes ago, Ellie said:

I live in central Texas, which I'm sure is as humid as SW Ohio. 🙂 In California, I could just put wet cloths in a small basket in the laundry room and it was fine, but here, no. I have to lay things out flat, or hang them over a rack of some kind so they dry for a day, and then I can toss them in the laundry hamper. 🙂

We get yuck even when we hang things to dry in a basement laundry with a dehumidifier, lol! I do find that cooking them briefly in the microwave seems to help. 

Part of it might that I use really thick dish cloths, but I have always had this trouble while living here with any wet materials of any kind. My SIL lives in South Jersey, and it's more humid there than here--she doesn't have the mold trouble we do. 

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I have a hamper for them in the kitchen that fits into a tall, narrow, bottom cabinet (I specifically designed this cabinet for the kitchen towel hamper when we redid our kitchen 😆). We use only cloth napkins and towels and very few paper towels, so I’m washing a full load about every other day. Before I had the dedicated hamper, I kept a large mesh laundry bag hanging inside the basement door for them.  

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At the end of the night, the kitchen towel is hanging in its spot on the handle to the freezer (all stretched out—the freezer is a drawer at the bottom of the fridge.). The dishcloth is spread out and draped on the side of the sink.  They dry.

In the morning, I put them in the dirty laundry basket and get new ones.

If we get a lot of rags wet, then I hang them over the side of the laundry basket (is a tall plastic one) and they dry there.

 

No problems with stink when they dry overnight.

Edited by Garga
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There's a hamper in my laundry room for collecting misc. That is where dishtowels go and they get rotated every other day ...  we don't use dishcloths (we use sponges, of which there are 2 at any time - one in the sink, one in the dishwasher) ... stuff in the misc hamper goes into whatever is going in next unless there's a reason not to...

Edited by theelfqueen
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These days we do laundry every day and I just throw them in with the next load.

When my family was smaller I strung a piece of twine across a sunny window in the kitchen and hung them there until they were dry, then put them in the laundry basket.

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I think I have two choices:

1. Ditch the bucket and make sure the cloths and towels dry thoroughly 

OR

2. Wash them more frequently with general loads (Daily?)

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I try to switch to a new dishcloth/towel every evening after dinner cleanup...or more!  

If dishcloth is smelly (because I hadn’t swapped it the night before, or was used on tough things), I give it a good dish soap cleanse and rinse before I ...

Then, I place dish cloths/towels on lower half of the standing drying rack I always keep up in laundry room (upper half is for clean clothes...if needed).

I wash the dishcloths/towels twice a week - on a hot/pre-soak load w/a little borax.

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41 minutes ago, hopeistheword said:

I think I have two choices:

1. Ditch the bucket and make sure the cloths and towels dry thoroughly 

OR

2. Wash them more frequently with general loads (Daily?)

There's no reason not to wash them with general loads.

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I’ve decided we go through A LOT of kitchen towels and cloths. Apparently it is easier for some of us 😏 to simply get a new one from the drawer rather than look around and see where one has been left on the counter. 😑😑

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10 minutes ago, hopeistheword said:

I’ve decided we go through A LOT of kitchen towels and cloths. Apparently it is easier for some of us 😏 to simply get a new one from the drawer rather than look around and see where one has been left on the counter. 😑😑

I’d love to have that problem. My family will use a questionable towel that’s out before going to ALL the trouble of pulling out a new one. 

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8 hours ago, hopeistheword said:

I’m curious to see if anyone has an ingenious idea for dirty dishcloths and dish towels. We go through a lot of them.  Currently I try to collect them in a bucket of vinegar water until I have a load to wash.  This doesn’t always keep down the funky odor, though.  I’d love to hear any and all ideas!

We have a big sink in our laundry room.  I hang them over the edge or faucet.

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If it's wet I hang it on a rack over the sink to dry at night.

I have a laundry bin sorting system that I toss them in if dry.  Only mine are black because I couldn't find white ones anywhere when I switched to this system.

If I'm busy or behind on laundry I toss them on the floor of the laundry room to deal with later.  It's off the kitchen and has a closing door so that's easy.

Oh, and I use bleachable white flour sack towels for drying so the funk WILL get out when they are laundered.  I also have some pretty seasonal hand towels on a hook used just for drying hands. Those get laundered with similar colors.

ETA:  I do have 8 baskets instead of 6 though.  The extras are for khaki & grays, and another for delicate/handwash.  And mine are black.

Edited by Katy
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I have a laundry basket on top of the washing machine where we put all used towels/washcloths/dish rags. We do not reuse bath towels because there are too many of us, and not enough room in the bathroom to hang them, so I wash a load of towels every day.

Susan in TX

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8 hours ago, Bagels McGruffikin said:

In all my years of washing food towels and rags with the clothes I’ve never, ever had a stain or substance transfer. Not even in my high efficiency, low water washer. 

The only ones we wash separately are cleaning rags and grease rags from the garage, because of the chemicals.

Yes, I've never had anything transfer.  Front-loader washing machine. 

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12 hours ago, EKS said:

Pile them up on top of the dryer.

Same.

10 hours ago, hopeistheword said:

I’ve decided we go through A LOT of kitchen towels and cloths. Apparently it is easier for some of us 😏 to simply get a new one from the drawer rather than look around and see where one has been left on the counter. 😑😑

Same.  And since our washer and dryer are near the kitchen they just use a towel once and throw it towards the w/d area.  All day long I pick up kitchen towels and put them on the dryer.  🙄  There is definitely a better system somewhere but I seem incapable of re-training the participants.  🤣   I have considered hiding the clean kitchen towels so that I'm the only one who knows where they are, but I haven't done it yet. 

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1 hour ago, Another Lynn said:

Same.

Same.  And since our washer and dryer are near the kitchen they just use a towel once and throw it towards the w/d area.  All day long I pick up kitchen towels and put them on the dryer.  🙄  There is definitely a better system somewhere but I seem incapable of re-training the participants.  🤣   I have considered hiding the clean kitchen towels so that I'm the only one who knows where they are, but I haven't done it yet. 

Now THAT’s an idea! 🤣

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