Monday, September 26, 2011

Dish Rags

I do a lot of dishes around here.  A lot.  Yes, I know, use the dishwasher.  But sometimes the dishwasher won’t get full for several days and in the meantime I’m pulling out dirty utensils from the dishwasher to wash them because the only clean fork is the little cocktail shrimp fork.  I’ve eaten an entire breakfast using it, by the way.

And the fact that the dishes never seem to get really clean in the dishwasher doesn’t help either.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ruined a happy morning by having to re-wash dishes that went through that stupid thing.  It probably doesn’t help that we have hard water, but is it expecting that much to want clean dishes after they’ve gone through both the “High Temp” and “Heavy Wash” cycles? 
Having said that, I will confess that I broke down after a particulary busy morning today and started another load.  After I pre-washed them, of course.  Once again bringing up the question as to why I even bother with the damned thing.
So now that I’ve finished with this part of my Dishwasher “Rag” (or rant), let’s move on, shall we?
As mentioned earlier, I spend an inordinate amount of time standing in front of the kitchen sink, scrubbing dishes.  And for years, there have been three types of dish-cleaning items I keep; the long-handled brush, the copper scrubby thing, and a sponge.  I like the sponges that have the plastic scrubby on one side.  And I would have to buy them in bulk as I was constantly going through them.  I bought the cheap ones.  I bought the expensive ones.  I bought the ones they sell at restaurant supply stores marked “commercial strength”.  And it didn’t matter one bit.  I would totally destroy a sponge in less than two weeks.  Is it because we have a lot of dried up food items left on the plates, because I scrub knives a lot, or am I just an overzealous washer of dinnerware?
I finally gave up on the sponges in order to go back to the “old fashioned” dish rag.  You know.  That small cloth used for washing plates.  Does anyone even use these things anymore?  I couldn’t tell you the last time I used one.  In fact, I thought that the scrubby-sponge had all but eliminated the need for the dish cloth and they had gone the way of the dish pan.
There was a blog (which I cannot now recall of course) where she made her own dishcloths. Like started spinning the wool (or was it cotton?) and knitting it into a dishcloth.  A-frekking-mazing.  Although I have no sheep nor cotton fields, nor easy access to either, I can buy some cotton yarn and crochet!  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before seeing the blog post, because I had recently been on a washcloth crocheting kick, and I just didn’t put two and two together to get a dishcloth out of it.  Duh.

I have been happily (or at least as happy as one can possible be scrubbing dried egg yolk off a plate) washing our dishes using my homemade dishcloths for about a month now.  The first few I made are a bit too large, so I’ve been making them different sizes to see which I like best. I’m thinking the ones “sponge” sized are my favorites so far.  The cloths don’t suds up the soap as much, but I can scrub to my heart’s content and they haven’t fallen apart.  No little pieces of yellow sponge clogging up the sink, no more smelly sponges and no more buying them in bulk at the store.   I’m also able to keep them cleaner than the sponges as I toss them in the laundry every few days.  I know you can microwave sponges to get them “clean” again, but I always forgot to do that.
So go ahead, pull those old dishcloths out of your cedar chest.  Dig out the ones you got for housewarming gifts fifteen years ago.  Give ‘em another try!


  1. Hey Caroline! I just wanted to make sure that you got your questions answered about the nutrition stuff. Wasnt sure if you needed more info or just being chatty. I know a gal who teaches 'nourishing traditions' stuff so if you need more info let me know.

  2. Yep, there's nothing like old-fashioned crocheted dish cloths! I have 8 or 9 now and get out a clean one every morning. I like to use two strands of #10 cotton crochet thread together, it makes it just the right thickness for me. :)

  3. OFG, forgive me if I'm missing something (namely, my brain), but I honestly have NO idea what you're talking about. I looked through a bunch of your old posts, wondering if in a dizzy stupor I had commented on something to do with nutrition (chicken fat gravy is nutrition, right?), but I couldn't find anything. Although your comment DOES make me curioius about the "nourishing traditions".

    Candy C, will have to try the double thread thing. I usually double up the larger sized cloths when washing so this would probably eliminate my having to fold them. Thanks for the idea.

  4. My hubby calls my dishwasher "the most expensive dish drainer in the county." Unless I have a large crowd to wash up after, it just gets used for holding the clean dishes til I get around to putting them away! Great info!

  5. A service person told me that the newer dishwashers use less water...which mean less cleaning ability. He also told me to use Cascade Complete (has the rinse in it); rinse alone won't do it. So far, we can see quite an improvement in the dishes.

    The double thread idea is a good one. If I ever pick up a crochet needle again, I will give it a try.

  6. I am an ardent fan of dish cloths! I knit them up by the gross - they are my favorite "waiting in line" project and I always have one going. I like the double thread/yarn idea, though. I think I will try it. I have a dishwasher and almost never use it. A week ago, I couldn't find my four half-gal mason jars and tore the house apart - finally deciding that someone had broken in past the slavering dogs to steal them. They were in the dishwasher. Heheheh.

  7. I contemplated putting a dishwasher in my kitchen remodel, but decided against it when I found out none of the newer models have less than a 2-hour cycle! Give me a break!! And this is touted as "energy saving." Hrumpf. I've always used good, ol' cotton dish cloths. Never like sponges 'cause I feel they are not clean. We all have our own prejudices, I guess!

  8. Hi Corolyn, thanks for checking out my blog . Thought it only polite I check out yours. Glad I did ! I am slowly weaning myslef from our diswasher that works about as well as yours. When we make our BIG move off this farm onto our totally sustainable farm there will be NO dishwasher and only a ringer washer. Your post encouraged me to start cutting the ties now. THANKS (I think)

  9. That's a great idea! How hard is it to learn crochet? I've been kicking around the idea of either trying crochet or knitting, but was wondering which was easier without a teacher....any insight?

  10. Hoosier Girl, ours usually gets the same treatment; dishdrain!

    gld, I'll have to try the Cascade Complete. I usually get the almost-cheapie stuff, but maybe it's worth it since I really don't do that many dishes in the dishwasher.

    Mama Pea, when we bought this house there was a dishwasher with it & when it crapped out, we thought about not even putting another one in, but did anyhow. Now I wonder if it was worth it. Could have used that space for storage (other than dishes, that is).

    Donna, oh how I dream of getting a wringer washer! One day!

    Little Farm, if "I" can learn, anybody can! I tried learning crochet & knitting at the same time & I found it easier to crochet. But I also tend to like the crochet patterns better anyhow, so I guess it's a win-win. I would, however, like to learn to knit so I can on day knit socks. Insane, yep.

  11. I am a dishcloth addict, I even have people asking me to make them some. They're my leave in the handbag craft item for when I am stuck waiting somewhere like school pick up or the doctors.
    I use knitted for cleaning and crochet for the kitchen (dont want to mix up the bath/toilet cloth with the kitchen cloth lol)
    I use the lily sugar and cream cotton (which I get sent over from the USA) with a 5mm/us 8 needle.
    My favorite pattern for wear and tear and absorbability is 30 sts across 1 row of SC 1 row of DC repeat till square then edge.
    I love your blog by the way and is one of the first things I read when the internet comes back on fast mode every month, keep up the good work.