Lynne wants to know how to keep dish rags from smelling so… funky. Although she’s diligent about rinsing them after use, and hanging them over the divider in the middle of her sink, they still reek by the end of the day. As far as laundering them, well, she’s got a bit of an added problem there.
Since finding your blog, I have become a better housekeeper in the sense that I have gone from doing nothing to at least doing something each day. Laundry isn’t one of those things, though. We don’t own our own washer and dryer, so things pile up all week (sometimes up to two weeks) before one of us has time to get to the laundromat.
That’s the basis of my problem: how do you keep your dish rags from smelling NASTY by laundry day? Sometimes no amount of washing gets rid of that horrible smell and I never feel like they’re actually getting anything clean. How do I fix this?
Love your tips!
I think we’ve all been there with smelly cleaning rags, dish cloths, and even towels we’ve left sitting in a wet pile. Unfortunately, as you’ve discovered, once that stink gets in there it’s hard to get out. Here are some simple steps you can take to keep your dish rags from smelling (and your cleaning cloths, too), along with two methods to freshen them again.
How To Keep Dish Rags From Smelling
- Change dish rags at least once a day.
- Opt for thinner, lightweight dish rags like these microfiber cloths with a waffle weave ones which air-dry faster than standard cloth rags.
- Rinse them in hot, soapy water immediately after use. Wring dry, and hang them where they can dry out. The edge of the sink isn’t good for this, but the door of the oven might be. Neither are options in my house, so I stuck a Command hook on the backsplash next to my sink and just hang my washcloth there after wringing it.
Boiling Dish Rags Gets Stubborn Smells Out
Homeowners are typically advised to set their water heaters at 120°F, the same temperature laundromats use, too. While this conserves energy and prevents scalding injuries, it’s not hot enough to kill mildew or many forms of bacteria that cause odors.
So the first step is boiling your cloths to get the built-up stuff out of there, then boiling them every week or so to keep build-up from returning.
- Launder dish cloths as usual and let fully dry.
- Fill a large pot halfway with water and set it over HIGH heat on the stove. Bring to a boil.
- Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the water.
- Add your dish rags to the water.
- Boil for 15 minutes to kill odors and bacteria, mold and mildew.
- Allow to cool completely, then wring each rag well and hang on a clothes drying rack or coat hanger to dry.
How To Launder Dish Rags
For those with washing machines that do true high-temperature cycles, careful laundering will keep odors from building up.
- Do a load with just dish cloths and dish towels to avoid cross-contamination.
- Set both the wash and rinse cycle for the hottest possible water temperature.
- Set the cycle for the longest possible washing time. On my machine, that’s “Heavy Duty” but check your washer’s instructions.
- Use your regular laundry detergent, and add 1 cup of white vinegar.
- IMMEDIATELY transfer them to the dryer when the wash cycle ends.
- Skip using the moisture sensor, and dry them on HIGH heat for 45 minutes to knock out the smell.
Try this trick between laundry days!
In between laundry days there’s one more trick that can help keep your rags from getting smelly: stash them in a plastic bag in the freezer where the cold temps will prevent bacteria, mold, and mildew from growing. Pop them straight out of the freezer into the wash, no defrosting required. Just be sure to label the bag clearly so no one goes poking around hoping to find something good to eat!
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