Home Forums Welcome Hello! Dish sponges/cloths

This topic contains 34 replies, has 22 voices, and was last updated by  kou 3 weeks, 1 day ago.

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  • #159827

    snosie
    Member

    I’m sorry if this has been spoken about elsewhere, but I’m wondering what people ‘do’ when it comes to dish sponges or dish clothes.

    More specifically, I don’t like ‘wasting’ and throwing out the sponges I currently use when they start to smell musty, or disintegrate.

    My mother uses more of a fluffy fabric, which she can machine wash, but they never dry properly (even after days on the line in summer) and therefore also continue to smell musty/damp.

    I’m sure there is an older, wiser solution out there. This is partly on the path of a zero waste home, but I couldn’t get that forum to work for me, so I’ve returned to the tried and true unclutterer!

  • #209879

    toberead
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    I never liked sponges. They never seemed clean to me and they always seemed to fall apart too quickly. I use a dish brush for cleaning my dishes and my sink, and clean it in the dishwasher. (When I didn’t have a dishwasher, I dunked it in a little bleach periodically.) Even though the dish brush cost more initially, they last a long time and seem to stay very clean. Food particles just fall right off if you tap it on the side of the sink. (Eventually the bristles get broken and fall out, but that takes a while.) For wiping down my counters and other surfaces, I bought a large pack of inexpensive washcloths and I use those instead. I replace the cloth every day (or more often if needed) and wash them with my socks and other clothes that need heavy laundering. If you buy the inexpensive washcloths (the ones sold for hotels – you can usually find them at discount stores or Costco) they dry very quickly. The fancier washcloths are too thick and heavy and don’t work as well for cleaning. This may seem like a complicated solution but it’s actually very easy for me – the dish brush gets tossed in the dishwasher every day and a washcloth gets tossed into the laundry basket every day. I also like that I’m not using disposable items like paper towels as often.

  • #209880

    sleepykitten
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    @toberead – I have been trying to find a good paper towel replacement and having troubles. The inexpensive washcloths you speak of sound great – is there a brand you purchase? That probably sounds like a dumb question, but the washcloths I’ve purchased in the past don’t seem to dry very quickly, so I’m curious.

  • #209887

    toberead
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    The brand I’ve bought is 1888 Mills. They used to be available at Costco and Sams and some other discount stores, but recently I’ve had a harder time finding them. They still sell them at Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/1888-Mills-Cloths-Commercial-Quality/dp/B001J1Y9RO

    They don’t dry instantly but if I hang them up, they’re dry within an hour or two. If you have a restaurant supply store or hotel supply store, you might find them there – these are marked “for hotel use”. Think Motel 6, not the Hilton!

  • #209888

    pkilmain
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    I like sponges. They can be cleaned by running them through a dishwasher cycle (just be sure they can’t fall onto the element), or you can but them in the microwave wet and run it for 30 seconds or so to sanitize. Let it cool before handling. You can also soak it in a bleach solutiom for half an hour or so. Also wringing them out well after use will help keep them from getting nasty. I also use a brish for things stick on pans, to get the worst of it off.

  • #209890

    lemon
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    I use sponges but I cut each one in half. I realized you don’t really need the whole sponge and it makes them last twice as long. I tend to wash them in the dishwasher when I feel like they need to be clean and when they are beyond saving, they get used to wash the showers. 🙂

  • #209891

    sleepykitten
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    Thanks @toberead for the link – I’ll check around for those.

  • #209893

    snosie
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    Thanks for the comments so far. Lemon, I have started buying ones that are cut-in-halfable (some are too small to do that with), so I’m on my way with that.

    I don’t use the dishwasher often enough, so the microwave option might be better – will it clear the narky smell?

  • #209897

    Ella
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    I use 2 sponges with a scrubber side: a gentler one for dishes and glassware, and a heavier one for pans as well as cleaning the sink when I’m finished. I do the dishes and shine the sink twice a day. I also microwave the sponges twice a day for a full
    3 minutes afterward, then they’re stashed under the sink on a wire rack to air-dry in case there’s any moisture left. So my sponges are super clean, they never smell and they last a looong time. Once they retire from dish duty, they get a couple of corners snipped off, which makes it easy to keep them separate for the floor or other dirty jobs until they start looking grubby. By then, I have no problem throwing them out.

    My mother always used a dishcloth, and when she was done she draped the wet cloth over the faucet to dry. I always hated seeing that cold wet rag hanging there in an otherwise pretty kitchen. As soon as I moved out to my own place, I bought sponges. I like my sink to look pristine, lol.

  • #209899

    Zora
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    I gave up on sponges. I knit my own dishcloths from cotton yarn (it only takes an hour) and have a stack of six or so. I change them every couple of days. They go right into the wash. Minimalist, cheap, sanitary.

    They’re great for cleaning glass. Don’t scratch but do scrub. I like to give them as presents.

  • #209905

    Jude2004
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    I think sponges are fun, but impractical. As my old bath towels wear out, I’ve been processing them into dish rags.

  • #209910

    bandicoot
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    i use cheap face washers.
    they are the right size, nicely absorbent, last for years, and they just go in the laundry with the towels and tea towels.

  • #209916

    jmhva
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    Zora,
    I use the knitted and crocheted dish cloths also.I love them. I find them on Etsy and they are very reasonable. They get washed just about every other day and they hold up wonderfully.
    I give them as gifts also and everyone loves them. I prefer white but they come in some very beautiful colors as well.

  • #209921

    loripax
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    I hate sponges. Grimy little bad-bacteria factories.

    I have a couple dozen dishcloths and use a new one each day, or more often if necessary. As @toberead said, buy the cheap thin ones. I think mine were $10 for three or so dozen or so at Costco; they might have been labeled “bar towels” or some such. They’re much cheaper than sponges and last for years, and it’s easy to toss them in the wash with the other towels. Just wring out and hang up to dry. When they get worn, they get demoted to rags.

  • #209923

    lemon
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    @snosie washing the sponge in the dishwasher works. It definitely gets rid of the smell but only works once or twice.
    However the key to keeping sponges clean for a long time is to put soap directly on the sponge when you use it and squeeze it out when you are done. Before we married, my husband didn’t have a dishwasher and he would always comment that my sponges smelled (can you believe that we had this conversation?).
    He taught be those two tips: put soap directly on the sponge and make sure it is dry as possible when you are done.

  • #209926

    Astreja
    Participant

    Dish sponges/cloths

    I avoid using sponges altogether, simply because they’re magnets for germs and stinky smells.

    I currently have some terrycloth-type dishcloths, and only use them once or twice before pitching them into the laundry; I cycle my dishcloths and dishtowels quite frequently, no more than 1 or 2 uses before they go for a spin in the machine.

    For messier situations, such as cleaning up after leaky cats, I have a supply of rags made from worn-out bath towels. Sometimes I can wash them, but most of them just go into the trash afterwards. Old dishcloths also join the rag bag so that I can get a few more uses out of them before I fling them out.

  • #209935

    Xiro
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    All old towels and sponges move to the “use for cleaning” area. Of course they are bleached at the end.

  • #209939

    Ella
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    If you use sponges, read this:

    http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2007/070423.htm

  • #209940

    irishbell
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    If Uncle Buck can dry his socks in the microwave, it’s
    most certainly good enough for my sponges.
    (I’d put my sponges I the dishwasher for years,
    til I read a few years ago I could microwave the sponges and send their germs to their rightful death)

  • #209941

    OnARoll
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    There is a type of inexpensive dishcloth that is one side loosely woven fabric good for washing dishes, and the other side a netty sort of fabric that is good for scrubbing pans. I keep enough of those around that we can use a fresh one every day or whenever one gets grubby.

  • #209949

    Mimi
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    i use microfiber cloth (and a brush) instead of sponges. i change the cloths once a day or more often and wash them very hot. in the office, we have sponges and to avoid a stinky bacteria sponge i put it in a large mug and add boiling water as we don´t have a microwave there.

  • #209968

    ninakk
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    brush for washing dishes (head gets switched out once in a while), wettex-type of cloth for wiping water off surfaces and sponge for cleaning sink. latter are switched out during the week according to need and cleaned about once weekly with kitchen towels; 60deg C, kills bacteria.

  • #210001

    snosie
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    Thank you all, for your ideas.

    I’m scared of brushes (too many at my parents were ingrained with melted cheese, ewww~)

    I think the options of old towel/face washers, or knitted cotton cloths could work. Just more regular rotation from use to wash! (Thanks Zora, Jude & bandicoot)

    lemon – great tips, and very interesting conversation you had I can imagine, but it seems your learnt something…

    Mimi _ i was using a microfibre cloth, but I didn’t have enough to change out daily (I only wash weekly, as it’s just me, which I think means more tea towels and cloths than I might otherwise need…) But I do like the mutlitasking goodness of the microfibre cloths. Except, again, within a day, they struggle to dry between pre work and post work use.

    Oh! I think I only just ‘got it’. So the microwave is to DRY them. I don’t know why I thought it was just to heat them up?! Some loose wiring in this head of mine.

    And I think I’m going to have to start using a ‘hot’ wash. Which I loath, for the environmental impacts, and colours running, and… and…

  • #210010

    lottielot
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    I use mainly microfibre cloths for cleaning the kitchen, I’ll use the latest teatowel for drying the surfaces after so they don’t smear, a brush for washing up which goes in the dishwasher occasionally, and old small towels for cleaning the bathroom, spills on the floor, anything else. Everything goes in the wash at 60c, together with the microfibre mop, maybe once a week or whenever it’s a reasonable amount. I probably change the kitchen cloth about every 2 days or so. It’s about the only hot wash I do, but then again a hot wash stops the washing machine from getting stinky anyway. You could wash your normal towels in there too, the hotter temperature gets rid of that mouldy smell they get after a while.

  • #210014

    Jackthetiger
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    At the risk of sounding spammish, I love Enjo. They last so many years and are easy to clean. We use almost no cleaning products now and there is no bleach or disinfectant in the house. We wash all our enjos in the machine at 30C and hang them to dry in the sun. This is nature’s disinfectant.

    I think the key to cleanliness is in the drying. Bacteria won’t thrive on a dry surface.

  • #210019

    lottielot
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    JTT: I have some Enjo cloths and I love them too, however they’re stupidly expensive and I find microfibre often works as well for just general cleaning.
    Also: sunshine is not always readily available!! Certainly not here right now, we’ve had torrential rain for about 3 weeks.

  • #210022

    bandicoot
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    lottie, do you have an enjo mop?
    i have been eyeing one off for years.

  • #210028

    lottielot
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    Bandicoot: no, though I’m sure it’s probably good. I have a microfibre mop which attaches with Velcro, it works pretty well though it could do with a bit more use!!

  • #210034

    loripax
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    @snosie – The point of microwaving sponges is to get them hot enough to kill the bacteria, and they have to be wet for that to generate steam. You *don’t* want the sponge to dry in the microwave, or it will melt or burn (depending on what material they’re made from).

  • #210038

    Mimi
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    just an additional note on microfibre: i dry the microfibre cloth on a rack/ wire basket inside the kitchen cabinet and i think it is dry within… one hour? two hours at most…

  • #210040

    djk
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    We use a sponge and a brush. When I had a microwave I’d zap the sponges dry, now without access to sunlight (apartment, north facing, no dryer, no patio, no yard–we just bleach them then eventually toss them.
    For general cleaning I do like my microfiber cloths, but at this time of year they take a while to dry. In winter they dry very fast; in summer it’s so hot they also dry fast–but in spring and fall towels start smelling musty on the drying rack before they’re even dry after washing. I use the boil wash on my washer during these cool wet months.

  • #210052

    Scarlet
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    I always wonder if what is sold as “shop towels” in the automotive section of Target etc. would make good clean-up/drying cloths. I don’t like most things sold as dish towels because I prefer terry-like absorbent texture over the waffle cloth texture, it just doesn’t seem as absorbent to me. When shopping around for such things a couple of months ago, I was amazed to discover that basically all “kitchen towels” sold at BB&B were marked as machine wash COLD only. Why would you want something near food spills that can’t be at least washed on warm?

  • #210057

    Jackthetiger
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    Bandicoot, LOVE our Enjo mop. We have a dust head, and a general mop head that does timber and slate floors. We have been using them exclusively for 8 years at least. They are still good.

  • #210058

    bandicoot
    Member

    Dish sponges/cloths

    i hear great things about them, but i baulk at the price.
    still, eight years of use starts to sound like good value.
    thanks for the details.

  • #326055

    kou
    Participant

    I use silicone sponge for cleaning. It is antibacterial and has long service time than regular sponge which needs to be change at less once per week. PS: the silicone sponge can’t do heavy duty washing well, but I have some scourer pad to do that cleaning job.

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