So...why dishcloths?


I also use one for a little mat I front of my coffee pot. I put my spoon on it. That one is fairly small and rectangular. Once a week I toss it in the wash.


Hmm. My family of origin, various friends along the way, and DH and I do use washcloths for showering and bathing the human body.

It’s just the [B]dish[/B] part of [B]dish[/B]cloth/rag that seems odd to me. Oh, yes, my mom had us dry the dishes with dishtowels, but they were completely different from the sponges we washed the dishes with. ([B]Note:[/B] sponges can go through the wash by themselves or in a net bag as a group. Hot-water wash and/or bleach load, either does just fine.)

I racked my brains the other day after starting this thread. I found therein One Whole Memory involving textile items intended for cleaning dishes. When I was in the 3rd grade and going on my first Girl Scout cook-out, the leader told us that we’d need a “bag” to air-dry our dishes after washing them. We were to make this “bag” out of 2 dish-washing Items (I can’t remember what she called them). Because it was a required item for an activity my parents approved of, they went to the store and bought 2 of these dish-washing, textile items. I hand-stitched them together on three sides and wove two shoe laces along the top for drawstrings. On the cook-out, this “bag” was big enough for my dishes, and the shoe laces were handy for hanging the bag up on the clothesline the leaders strung up for us.

For people who used dishcloths as a normal part of the dish-washing routine, though, I [I]am[/I] noticing a geographical pattern, albeit a wide-ranging one. With only one or two exceptions, the responders on this thread lived in or were raised in the [B]northern [/B]half of the U.S. The most “northerly” place my family was ever stationed was Cheyenne, Wyoming, whose identity is much more Western than it is Northern. My GF, raised in Idaho, has also said that dishcloths were “perfectly normal” in her neck of the woods.

I have a goodly collection of rags [I]qua[/I] rags. These are dishtowels with major holes or rips, old T-shirts which can’t be worn anymore, and the like. They’re used to clean the floors, mop up yucky stuff (e.g., animal messes), clean the car windows, and such. They live under the kitchen sink.

I guess you’d have to be a much faster knitter than I am to look with equanimity upon knitting items whose [B]purpose [/B]in life is to be destroyed… But, then, I’m still awaiting word that one of my quilts (esp. the ones given to my nephews and nieces) has been “worn to death” and needs to be replaced. However, the life span of my quilts seems–so far!–to be measured in decades, or at least multiple years. Fortunately, wearing out is a side effect of a quilt being used rather than its sole purpose in life. :slight_smile:

Making something whose [B]purpose [/B]is to be destroyed…I dunno… It just sounds like a discouraging activity. I must be missing yet another important aspect of dishcloth-making. Help?


You wanted geographical data. My family is from Oklahoma/Texas and other nearby states. All use dishrags. Here in Washington, I know only one person who really uses sponges for washing dishes. Maybe it’s more of a socio-economic phenomenon than a geographical one.


To me, there’s really no difference between knitting a sweater for a child and knitting a dishcloth save the size. Both have a similar life expectancy these days. At least the dishcloth is smaller. :wink:


True. It’s also a great way to try out a new stitch pattern. I end up using them for pads under hot pans and dishes too. I have an afghan pattern that I should make up in a dishcloth/hotpad/place mat/whatever first.

The person I know who uses sponges is originally from Alaska BTW and you don’t get much more north than that in these United States. :mrgreen: I forget whether it was supposed to be a northern, southern, eastern, or western thing.


DCM- Omigosh! I made one of those bags for day camp when I was a Camp Fire Girl! :teehee:

I don’t know about anyone else, but my dishcloths last for a long, long time! They are small so, like a hat, they are easy to test stitch patterns out on although at this point I generally stick to the simple diagonal garter pattern with a stripe here or there. I use actual rags for the yucky stuff.

Socks seem like a worse knit item IMO because they take longer and absolutely wear out. But, I don’t like hand knit socks so there you go.


An OT OMG here- you just reminded me that I have to mend a worsted sleep sock that my dog chewed up! This is the patching [COLOR=“Red”]method[/COLOR] I’m going to try out.

But to stay on topic…like Jan, my knitted cloths last a very long time. I don’t use them as rags, well, until they’re rags. :wink:


I knit them for the reasons listed above, nice for trying new stitch patterns, a quick knit, but I’ve also discovered that people [B]like[/B] them! The kids will choose a homemade one to wash dishes with over a store bought one every time. My hubby will only use a hand knitted wash cloth when he showers. The kids give them to their friends. I made them for my sister for Christmas in her kitchen colors.


Just remember who got them spoiled. :mrgreen: I gave my sister a dishcloth and she said it was too nice for a dishrag :angelgrin: so she would use it to wash her face. Made my day.


I knit dishcloths b/c they are a good mindless project between projects like afghans, socks etc. My experience is that they hold up much longer and better than any I ever purchased. Once they do get a hole they are moved to the pile under the sink for washing up deck furniture and my boys deck toys when our trees drop stuff on them all summer.


I like this thread - read every post! (not sure why…)

I live in Ontario, Canada. Similar weather to Wisconsin methinks.

I love making AND using the dishrags (or cloths) to wash dishes, and counters and stove and tables afterwards. Sponges just don’t soak up the entire mess (too small and fiddly).

Also, didn’t Oprah some years back have on an expert who claimed that sponges are the WORST for bacteria storage on them?

and true: it’s a great way to test out a new pattern. They also make cute gifts with a bar of homemade soap (my other hobby).


I have no idea what Oprah may or may not have said on her show; I only ever watched one episode. But it would be worth knowing whether the sponges in question had been regularly laundered (as mine are) and/or soaked in a solution of Dawn + bleach + hot water in the kitchen sink, whenever they don’t look “clean enough” after being through the washing machine.

Some “experts” suggest sanitizing sponges in the microwave, but I can’t deal with the thought of putting sponges (unless they’ve just come fresh from the washing machine) into the microwave for any reason other than wiping the surfaces off. Turning on the heat in the microwave? when a sponge is sitting inside??? sounds

  1. nuts
  2. completely unsanitary

My DH (bless his heart…) uses the microwave every workday to eat a frozen, processed meal (yes, I used to get up and cook for him, but he would still eat this frozen, processed junk, so I stopped getting up to cook). The food splots here and there in the microwave, making quite a mess. I can just imagine the gunk in a non-laundered sponge splotting here and there in the microwave, too… :ick:

So, again, were these “eternal sponges” on Oprah’s show? meaning that they had [B]never [/B]been laundered/bleached/cleaned since being put into service? Or were they like mine, washed regularly and additionally soaked overnight in a bleach solution when they looked like they needed it?

That would be worth knowing.


Good questions. I long ago realized that per experts, anybody who ever ate anything from my kitchen must be dead. Fortunately they’ve not come back to tell me about it. Come to think of it, they’ve come back alive and eaten again. :shrug: I remember the “life demands Lysol” slogan. My response was: don’t give in to unreasonable demands. I was in a store one day and recall talking to the person who checked me out about a news report on dust mites and how it had caused people to rush out and buy new pillows and their stock was just about exhausted. Funny how the things we live with don’t cause us harm unless the experts tell us they will. I do think a reasonable standard of cleanliness is a very good idea. How we each achieve it is an individual matter. Too much disinfecting of every surface in our homes IMO contributes to resistant bacteria. Bleach has been used for a long, long time and seems to do just fine as in your case with sponges. I use a lot of vinegar because it cleans lots of things well and is an antifungal. I don’t use bleach much. At some point I read or heard that vinegar actually gets rid of most of the bacteria we need to be concerned about too. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. All I can say for sure is that if everything that is so dangerous to us were all that horrible, who could possibly be around to care? :??


Me personally, I knit dishcloths for a variety of reasons, some mentioned already in this thread. But while I was growing up here in Idaho, my family never really used a handmade dishcloth, or wash rag, but we did use washrags from old towels and so on. Ever since I started knitting though, I usually like to make them up, and use them in my own household since it actually is a bit cheaper here to make them rather than buy them.


Quick. Useful FO.
I use “kitchen” cotton, love Peaches n Cream.
I crochet them, too.


Well, I do use sponges now, but not the traditional squeezing sponges, instead, I use silicone sponges. They are different: silicon sponges are easily to clean after washing and they can dry out more quickly.


I read a story about the dirtiest thing in your kitchen - the sponge. So I have lots of them and use one a day, then it gets washed.

Same with the dishcloths (my sister made most of them) - use one day, wash --or at least into the washing machne–the next.

Dishcloths of cotton are a) good and b) not my favorite thing to do. So I won’t make any more.


I too have noticed the prevalence of dishcloths on this site and wondered vaguely about it. Not something I’ve come across here in the UK but no doubt someone will put me right on that. Of course, the correct thing to use is a twig - read Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons for enlightenment - or just a good laugh… :joy:


@gramercy I just put a hold on Cold Comfort Farm. I have to find out how to correctly use a twig. Obviously my domestic education is lacking. :weary::upside_down_face:


Loved Cold Comfort Farm, gramercy. It must be one of the funniest books ever and very insightful on the correct use of dish scrubbers.