Friday, May 14, 2010

The Humble Rag

There's a roll of paper towel lurking somewhere in this house, but I hardly ever use it. Instead, I use rags. The best ones are old cloth diapers, but since my children are grown, those disappeared a long time ago. Worn out t-shirts, soft cotton sheets and shirts, holey towels - that's where my rags come from now.

I use them, toss them in the wash, and either fold them neatly or throw them into the recycled (from Christmas oranges a couple of years ago) plastic box in the laundry room cupboard. Rags are so much more absorbent than paper towel, especially when painting. Here are some of the uses for rags:

* cleaning bathrooms
* washing windows
* wiping floors
* painting rags
* dusting furniture
* wiping baseboards
* absorbing water overflows from plants (don't tell me this doesn't happen to you)

Lemon oil, a soft rag, and a bit of elbow grease - there's nothing like it to make furniture gleam.

Rags are different from cloths. I use a dish cloth for washing dishes and counters. It gets laundered, and regularly bleached to remove odors. Dish cloths are a higher form of rags - they don't wipe up floor spills. But when I married my husband, he brought the term "dish rag" along and it persists. I cling to the "cloth" usage, how about you?


  1. I'm all for it!

    My husband read a New Scientist article years ago about how dishcloths hold germs, so we switched to paper towels for a short while, but were disgusted at the amount of paper we got through. So we devised a system where where we have a large stock of decent cloths in the kitchen for child-wiping and other 'hygenic' things, and a bin they are thrown into after use - I just pop a load into the washing machine regularly and dry them on the line. A second container in the utility room holds our rags, for similar purposes as yours. I find that towelling socks which have lost their elastic make the best rags! Great post - thanks.

  2. I've actually considered getting some more cloth baby diapers for this very reason. You're so right, they are the best! I gave up on my regular rags long ago preferring microfiber cloths, but I do love a soft t-shirt for polishing.

  3. Every once in a while I make a foray into The Great Dane's dresser and liberate one or two old T-shirts to add to the rag pile. That way I beautify TGD, who gets a new T-shirt, and the house, that gets fresh cleaning rags!
    We call it a dish cloth, and the drying cloth is a Tea Towel.

  4. I love cloth rags too over paper towels.

    When a towel, face cloth, tea towel or dish cloth gets too ratty looking or discolored, I turn them into rags.

    And the way I know what's a rag and what's not is to snip off two corners of the square. That way when I've laundered and am folding them, any dishcloths that have snipped corners goes into the rag bucket and doesn't end back up in my tea towel drawer (or visa versa).

    Lorrie, what a fun posting! Who'd a thought you'd could get such mileage on a few rags!!

    Happy Weekend! Brenda

  5. A box of rags does no good unless the rags are used. Thanks for the reminder ... I'll go get them from the mudroom now! Cheryl

  6. I recycle old T's and cottons for be used mostly at the farm. I have my favorite microfibre cloths in the home...and have even switched to microfibre dishcloths (though I still call them dish rags on occasion!).

  7. I could not agree more. I had a huge bag of cloths but then we moved and i had to throw them out. I used them for just about everything. They work well with oxyclean which by the way i had to use this morning...due to a pet getting sick on my carpet.
    Great post Lorrie!

  8. We certainly have a 'rag bag'. Old towels and anything at all in cotton. Would not be without it.


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