A while back, while browsing a dollar store (I love dollar stores!!!), I came across pretty little washcloths. They had four different colours, and each colour came in two different patterns. Having never bought washcloths before and therefore not knowing what the going-rate is for them, I bought a whole bunch at 2/$1. I still don’t know if that a good deal or not but I certainly don’t regret buying them.
Why not? (Or let’s just say “Why” actually because for some reason the question “why not” causes an old Hillary Duff song to start ringing through my ears . . . not pleasant.)
Because buying a bundle of these cheapie dollar store washcloths led me to a point I’m at now:
Using cloth instead of paper towel.
Let’s go back just a smidge though: I have hated paper towel ever since I got a job and had to start buying it myself. It’s really not that cheap (especially if you want something a level above mediocre). And you use it once (twice if you’re lucky or thrifty) and then throw it away. What a waste!
So there I am, buying a not-cheap product that is a seeming “necessity,” living with someone who doesn’t understand that they should only be used for what they NEED to be (rather than, you know, everything), and every time we ran out, not having the money to buy more. Usually because I decided it was more important to put gas in the car (and pay insurance) and buy groceries.
And I really can’t stress enough how frustrating it was to see Hubby using copious amounts of paper towel for a job that only needed one or two pieces.
Everytime we had clothes that were ripped beyond repair, or were “decomissioned” for some other reason, I would cut them up into squares to use for cleaning up after animals. Because animals are disgusting and were often the number one reason why too much paper towel was used for cleaning (nobody wants her pet’s yuck to soak through the paper towel onto her hand, after all). Then the rags could just be thrown away, after having been useful one last time.
When the rags were abundant, I would also use them for cleaning the bathroom. And the floors. And cupboards.
The list of things I used the rags to clean got longer all the time. And they were a life-saver for those times when we ran out of paper towel and couldn’t buy more. But they were just t-shirt rags, mostly. Not all that absorbent. Cut into messy squares. Edges rolling up and fraying.
Enter dollar store washcloths.
They are pretty! They have finished edges! They are absorbent (they aren’t really, but I didn’t know that at the time)! They are all the same size! They won’t be an embarassment!
So I bought a nice little stack of them and kept a neat little folded pile in our dishcloth drawer. I informed Hubby that we weren’t buying paper towel ever again and made it very clear that the rags were for messes that are gross (so we don’t have to feel bad if we end up throwing the rag away rather than washing it) whereas the new “paper towel” is for wiping hands, spills, counters, etc.
Hubby was not too happy. But he adapted well and is (usually) pretty good at using the correct cloth for the job. He has stained some of the washcloths using them on things that a rag should have been used for. But I can’t really get mad at him for being a man and not thinking about aesthetic appearance, rather than functionality. Sometimes terry cloth is going to work better than old-t-shirt-rag, even if it will stain.
As I mentioned though, the dollar store washcloths turned out to be not-so absorbent. In fact, they suck. They are completely unwilling to absorb, unless you worked darn hard at it! But if you get them damp first, they still make fine napkins for greasy fingers. Being as that is pretty much all they get used for, they are living far beyond their usefulness. Not that I’m complaining. But I now have a stack of washcloths that barely get used. And they’re stained and faded. Not pretty.
As I said though, I don’t regret buying them. They were just a temporary stopping point. A stepping stone. To something better! Something truly functional! Something I can brag about!
But I’m not bragging. I don’t think. Am I?
I still cut up old clothes for rags. But Hubby and I certainly don’t produce the amount of rags necessary to keep from using the dollar store washcloths.
It happened rather by accident that I got a ripped men’s flannel shirt from the reuse centre and I cut it up for rags. When I ended up using it for cleaning, I found it to be surprisingly absorbent. I also got some ripped and holey towels. I know what you’re thinking “Eww, someone’s old towels?? Gross!” but I never say no to old towels because I would prefer to use crappy old ones when I wash the dog and rabbit, rather than the ones that Hubby, Doll, and I actually use.
So I came up with a brilliant idea!
I sewed squares of flannel and terry cloth together so that the terry was sandwiched between two squares of flannel. The flannel absorbs quite well and transfers the moisture to the terry within, so it can hold quite a bit!
I also made a couple with just two layers; terry on one side and flannel on the other. But they simply don’t absorb very well on the terry side. I’ve come to the conclusion that terry does not absorb willingly enough (at least for kitchen use) to warrant putting it on the outside of the “paper towel.”
Here are a couple samples of my cloth paper towel!
The red ones are the first I made (they came out rather sloppy) and the blue ones are my second batch, which I love!
Imagine my surprise when after making my cloth paper towel I found out that unpaper towel, or paperless towel, is already a thing!
Great minds think alike!
The Tale of Mummyhood