Kitchen Cloths 

This summer I have been slacking on my writing! I apologize. I have a quick tidbit for you today to (hopefully) get us back on a steady posting schedule.

In the kitchen, paper towels and other disposable products are banned from the zero waste lifestyle. This includes napkins and sanitizing products (like Clorox wipes). In my experience, I have learned that different sets of rags must have different uses.

Napkins and Hand Towels

The cloths we use when we eat and cook must stay separate from those we use to clean. I have a set of white washcloths and hand towels to use specifically for the purpose of napkins and, well, hand towels. Let’s call these my “food-grade cloths.” I put them in their own laundry basket, which I keep in the laundry room off my kitchen, when they are dirty. (Sorry, I just washed them, hence the inspiration for this post, so I have no picture of the dirty basket.)

When they’re clean, I fold them neatly and put them in their clean basket for dispensing.


I have separate dispensing and dirty laundry storage for rags, which I use for dirty kitchen jobs like cleaning surfaces which could have gross bacteria. I use these rags in other areas of the house, as well (but not the bathroom). I don’t want these rags to come into contact with my food-grade cloths. All dirty rags go into their special bucket, and when washed, go into the “rag drawer.”

It ain’t pretty, and it ain’t meant to be. I don’t spend time caring for my rags. They’re as low-maintenance as possible. The key to sustaining a zero or less-waste lifestyle is making it easy on yourself. Rip up some tee shirts or grab some old towels (or buy some at the thrift store) and you’ve got yourself a rag supply. Toss em in a drawer or basket, and you’re all set.

*There is one more dirty rag bucket in my laundry room, which is for the rags I use in the bathroom. I will do a separate post on my recommendations for those, since this one is devoted to kitchen cloths.

The Wash

I already mentioned that I store the clean and dirty food-grade cloths and dirty rags separately and wash them separately. However, when I wash them, I put them all through the same wash routine diaper wash routine). I run a cold rinse cycle, then wash on hot heavy duty. I add bleach if necessary. Tumble dry. I just wash when I run out, usually every week and a half or two.

No more wasted money on paper towels and napkins!


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