Death of a Dishcloth

When Mr. Jaunty and I moved in together a scant three months ago, I bought a set of crisp new dishtowels. I thought these ‘good’ towels would remain white and unsullied while my older, uglier dishtowels handled any dirty work. Should they get a little dingy, couldn’t I bleach them back to snowy white perfection?

Friends, I was a fool. My ‘good’ towels are now indistinguishable from the stained, holey dishtowels I’ve used for three years.

Dishcloths are destined for misery. Bleach can’t change that.

Why didn’t I recognize this wishful thinking from, oh, every time I buy washcloths?

These are face cloths,” I tell myself, “I need to keep them spic ‘n’ span to wash my acne away. I’ll use a fresh one every night and morning.” Riiiiiiiiight. Before the cock crows three times, I’m using those pristine face cloths to scrub my grimy feet or wipe down the bathroom mirror. Looking at my poor washcloths, you’d think I worked in a coal mine.

Oh hey, someone took my picture at work!

Me, beginning my bedtime routine

Now that I’ve seen my folly, how have I changed my ways?

HA! TRICK QUESTION! I haven’t changed; I still daydream about tidy piles of spotless linens. Mmmmm. But here are my Good Intentions:

1) Accept that dishtowels go to glory and the grave. Wear and tear is normal, not tragic.

2) Use those red rubber makeup sponges for face-washing. They clash horribly with everything I own, but they’re cheap and it beats washing 14 washcloths every week.*


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17 comments to Death of a Dishcloth

  • Ming

    I have had very similar reflections. The situation has improved only slightly since I began color-coding different cloths for different tasks. Some people (no names mentioned of course) think if it’s terry, it’s a “rag” and equally suited for washing faces AND cleaning up cat puke.


    Rebekah Reply:

    Yes, yes. Mr. Jaunty and I once had a cozy chat about distinguishing cloth napkins from dishtowels, but Old Rags vs. Nice Dishcloths wasn’t so simple. And now they’re ALL old rags, so I hate to buy more towels and try again…

    Color-coding, though. That could work!


  • Jen

    I have developed a nice system: 1)Unstained dishcloths are for bodies. 2)Slightly stained dishcloths are for dishes. 3)Heavily stained dishcloths are for cleaning floors and bathrooms, after which use they are promptly tossed in the garbage. This system requires buying a big new pack of sparkling white dishcloths every couple of months, which costs five dollars and feels like a million bucks.


    Rebekah Reply:

    Have you succeeded in training your housemates to this system?

    I won’t pitch rags until they fall to threads in my hands, and then I use the threads to mend my clothes, and eventually the clothes become rags, and the rags become threads… hey, I could turn this into a song! Anyway, my point was that I’m a Hippie.


  • storm/glow/sierra/does it matter?

    i’ve been through the “cleaning rags vs facecloths” routine too, and i only have two tips/comments

    1) Wal-mart sells thin cheap ones something like 12 or 14 for $4 – therefore replacements are easier than stressing and they all last just about the same.

    2) contrary to popular belief, bleach will actually shorten the life of your cloths/towels/clothes because it eats at the fibers and eventually turns them yellow and dingy looking even if you never use them for dirty jobs, PLUS they’ll be weaker and more subject to holes and rips.

    best policy? buy cheap, buy often, toss when they get nasty. yes i am a product of the consumer society. good luck!


  • Leslie

    I can tell you what NOT to do…..don’t tell yourself things will be better if all the towels/dishcloths/facecloths are a dark stain-hiding color. Tried that. Dark stain-hiding colors are just depressing. I need happy colors. much better to replace more often than live with dull and drab for a long, long time.
    Many people keep a pair or so of virtually unused dish towels around for when company is expected so “people won’t think we live like this”, and use normal (ie; somewhat stained) dishtowels the rest of the time.
    Hippie Tip: Uglified dishcloths/towels make good insides for patchwork pot holders. The layers of terry protect you from heat and the calico outside hides the ugliness, at least until you spill something ghastly on your potholders, which also happens. Alas!


  • Winter

    I use washclothes for face/body, dishclothes for dishes/messes. these are distinguishable by the fact that washclothes are solid colors, and dishclothes are that lovely-kitchen-y plaid!
    As for getting a man to understand the difference, don’t waste your time, you’ll just become aggravated and hopeless.


    Ming Reply:

    I’ve been trying to think of things that we domestic types might be doing that are parallel to the washcloth destruction that our other halves wreak – maybe they’d like to chime in? I often don’t know what button to hit on the remote, but the remote is none the worse for wear. I have never mistaken his favorite t-shirt for a nasty old rag (at least not out loud – oh snap!)Nor have I gone to mow the lawn and used his razor instead of the lawnmower by mistake. That’s a bad example ‘cos I don’t mow the lawn and they’re not similar enough.


  • Sierra – I’m fightin’ hard to overcome my consumerist side, but you’re dead-on about the bleach. We had a family friend completely ruin ALL his underwear by washing them all at once with too much bleach; it completely killed the elastic waistbands. Ha! Poor dude!

    Personally, I hate bleach because I ALWAYS manage to dribble some on my good clothes.

    Leslie – You read my mind, I WAS considering dark towels. I like the phrase “Hippie Tip”, I may have to steal it from you.

    Winter – Damn! =)

    Ming – Sometimes hitting the wrong remote button screws things up, that’s something. I’m sure there’s SOME domestic issue with which I torture Ian, but I don’t know what it would be..


  • Pravit

    I don’t use dishcloths. I just rinse and leave to dry in the dishrack. And if you’re British, you don’t even rinse the soap off!


    Rebekah Reply:

    Wait, you don’t use a scrubby-sponge? I use dishtowels for drying, but I had old roommates who used a full-size washcloth-type-thing for dishwashing. I found it too big to be useful AND it got musty quickly.

    Are you serious about the British soap issue?


    Ming Reply:

    That’s a new one to me. I’ll have to add “do dishes with the British” to my list of lifetime goals.


    Pravit Reply:

    Oh, I totally use a scrubby sponge. I meant I just air-dry my dishes instead of towel-drying.

    And the British are notorious for not rinsing soap off of their dishes. It’s part of the national culture, just like eating beans on toast and setting off the fire alarm in an attempt to make said toast (the latter of which I had the pleasure of experiencing multiple times during my short stay in a UK student dorm).

    Just google “British rinse dishes” for lots of reading about the subject.


  • Pravit, you are a bubbling fount of information. Bubbling, I say!


  • Sophia

    Haha. I enjoyed the German stamp. LOL


    Rebekah Reply:

    Whew! No one else seemed to, I was thinking about switching to a more obvious illustration… but I’ve never felt like taking/drawing pictures of dirty rags, so…


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