If you’re economical and environmentally-conscious, you’ll no doubt have a stash of kitchen towels that you use and reuse, instead of buying weekly batches of paper towels. (Check out this post to learn about eco-friendly paper towels that produce less waste.) A cloth kitchen towel will last a number of years if properly looked after.
If you use cloth towels, how do you ensure they are hygienic and well-maintained? After all, no one like having a smelly, stained rag in the kitchen!
Many would simply throw their kitchen towels in with the regular laundry, and that’s fine for the most part. But, when you’ve got a pile of really dirty dishcloths, there’s a few extra tips you can use to get them looking their best again.
To remove the bacteria from your towels, you can use a small amount of bleach in the wash. Not many would be bold enough to use bleach on their beautiful, colored towels, but just a little is okay. This is an effective way of removing the bacteria that naturally accumulates on kitchen towels.
Fill your washing machine as normal with water and detergent. Add just a couple of tablespoons of bleach to the water and allow the machine to agitate the mix. Once the bleach has mixed with the water and detergent, add the cloths. After the cycle, you’ll have clean, hygienic towels fit to be used again!
Removing Odors: Vinegar Method
One way to address odor problems is to use vinegar. This is great for removing that dirty kitchen smell. All you need is vinegar, baking soda, and laundry detergent.
Fill your washing machine with the towels and detergent. The amount of detergent depends on the size of the load. Add a cup of vinegar and baking soda to the machine and start the cycle. Allow it to continue until the soapy mixture has become agitated. Then, pause the machine for a few hours. You can even leave it overnight if the towels are particularly stinky.
Baking soda is amazing! Read this post for how to use baking soda to clean baked-on oven grease.
In the morning, continue the wash until it is complete. You might need to repeat this, but it’s unlikely. Allow the towels to dry, preferably outside on the line. Using the dryer will shorten the lifespan of your towels, and sunlight is great for sterilizing.
Repeat this method on a monthly basis, and you’ll always have a tidy, odorless set of towels to hang in your kitchen.
Are your decorative kitchen towels not getting the job done? Find out which dish cloths look as great as they dry!
Products for Strong Odors
For particularly potent odors, there are other methods to remove bad smells. These require more specific products. Bac-Out and OxiClean are the best I’ve found, but similar products will surely suffice.
Fill a tub with water and add your chosen product. Follow the guidelines on the packaging to determine the correct amount. Soak your smelly towels for several hours or overnight. In the morning, remove them and put them in the washing machine to wash as normal. You can add some vinegar for an added boost, but unless these towels of yours really reek of something awful, you should be okay without.
An additional tip is to use dish soap instead of laundry detergent, as this is designed to remove the germs and food residues that invariably accumulate over time.
Check out my article on dish soaps for baby bottles to learn about great natural dish soaps.
Stains can be removed in the same way you would remove them from clothing. Add your regular laundry detergent to the washing machine along with your towels, and maybe some extra stain removing substance. Kitchen towels shouldn’t stain quite like clothing, as they are sturdier and don’t come into contact with the same things as our clothes, like grass or motor oil.
Ready to use again!
Eventually, you will have to just replace your kitchen towels. Nothing lasts forever, no matter how beautiful or coordinated to your kitchen it might be. But, with these simple strategies, your towels will look better and last longer.
If you need recommendations on great kitchen towels, head on over here for a review of some of my favorite kitchen towel options. You might also like this post on the best dish drainer for pots and pans, which will efficiently air dry your kitchenware.
If all this cleaning makes you thirsty, head here for my review of the best insulated tumblers.
Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Didriks and The Linen Lavoir.