This is Day 214 of the Green in 365 series!
Guest Post by Anjanette of Raising the Barrs:
I have unpleasant memories of the wet dishrags from my childhood. I remember them being threadbare and an unidentifiable dingy color.
And the smell…
I wouldn’t have dared wash my face or hands with it after a meal any sooner than I would have stuck my face into a sink of dirty dishwater because that’s what it always smelled like.
I assumed that when I had a home and children to care for, I would use paper towels (the thick kind that we could never afford) for absolutely everything in the kitchen. I did decide to add a set of kitchen cloths and hand towels to my wedding registry just in case, but I honestly never intended to use them – and didn’t much for the first couple of years!
Then I had a baby. How many blog posts could we write that begin that way? They change everything, don’t they?
My Conversion to Cloth
While pregnant I researched EVERYTHING. I really had no pre-conceived ideas about childrearing… I was utterly clueless. So I read. And asked questions.
We also went down to one primary income so that I could spend more time with my little one. That meant MORE research on the best ways to save money. In addition to becoming a one-car-family and learning how to cook more at home, we decided to cloth diaper our baby. That was the beginning of this cloth journey.
As examined our budget, we realized that there were other disposables that we could cut back on. We ditched the ziplocks for reusable containers, started using grocery store bags in lieu of buying new trashbags, and eventually we even decided to stop using toilet paper!
As you can imagine, it became difficult to justify purchasing paper towels no matter how much I dreaded the smell and the extra work. I knew I needed to find a better system than what I grew up with though!
How I Got Over My Stinky Rag Trauma
My mom had maybe 5 rags that she used over and over. She’d rinse them, ring them out, and let them dry hanging over the faucet. They got washed when there was enough similar laundry to do a load, or whenever she got to it.
After reading through the experiences of others and experimenting a bit myself, I realized that the key to making cloth in the kitchen a pleasant experience was having enough cloth to use each one only once or twice and then wash them when there were enough dirty for a full load of laundry.
It has worked out so well for us that the only time we’ve purchased paper towels in the last 5 years has been after the birth of a baby when housekeeping is on the back burner, and recently when I fell ill with pneumonia and my hubby had to take everything on himself.
The Logistics of Cloth in the Kitchen
Cloth in the kitchen can really be very simple. We have three types of cloth:
* Wash rags for cleaning faces/hands, surfaces, and dishes.
* Larger kitchen towels for drying hands and clean dishes.
* Nicer cloth napkins for dinners with guests.
When a rag is soiled, we toss it into a mesh hanging laundry bag that offers plenty of air circulation to keep the wet rags from molding.
When the bag is full, we toss everything in the washer together and wash on hot, with an extra rinse cycle. Since we use only mild and natural cleaning solutions (like vinegar and essential oils), it’s not a problem to wash towels used on the counter tops with the towels used to wipe toddler faces.
You can use oxygen bleach to get rid of stains if you’d like, but we just leave them be. We purchased a huge package of cloths from Costco so that we can toss any that have outlived their usefulness.
After these photos were taken, we purchased a mesh bag that can be washed right with the kitchen laundry, so everything gets even cleaner now! I don’t miss paper towels at all, and even forget to use them when we have them!
What about you? Have you replaced any paper items with cloth?
More Green-Cleaning Kitchen Ideas:
Anjanette Barr is a wife and mom of three living in Juneau, Alaska and loving the life God has blessed her with. Her days are filled with lots of silly antics and laughter, mountains of laundry, and more love than she could ever hope for or deserve. She blogs at Raising the Barrs. Find her also on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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