Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Stinky Dishcloths?

For this week's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays, let's post a kitchen-related question or problem, and solicit help from others! Sound fun? :)

My problem is stinky dishcloths. If I use a dish cloth for more than about 24 hours, it starts to smell... and I'm not leaving it balled up in icky water or anything... though it does stay wet from frequent use.

I try to remember to wring mine out before bed and hang it up to dry overnight, and get a fresh one each morning. But some nights I forget, and in the morning... yuck!

How often do you have to put your dishrags in the wash? Do you use them once and then hang them up to dry and be laundered? And what's the best solution for smelly dishrags -- bleach?

To participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Post a kitchen tip question in your blog, with a link to this post. Then come here and add your name, tip subject, and URL to this post! Links must be family friendly, as always. If you don't have a blog but would still like to ask a question, just leave a comment here with your question! Everyone's ideas are appreciated. :) Note: Please link to your individual post, not your blog's main/front page! Thanks for participating! :)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays Participants
1. Mrs. Mordecai (herbs)
2. Willa (rice cooker recipes)
3. Erika(what is a good price to you?)
4. Nichole ( Help w/ Potatoes)
5. AmyG (Heallthful Economics)
6. Lindsay (cleaning black appliances)
7. Where the Lilies Bloom :: Braided Breads
8. Amanda (Cleaning the oven)
9. Tanya (flat top stove)
10. Sharon (celery issues)
11. Amy @ Hope is the Word (kitchen organization?)
12. Sonshine (electric knife vs. electric slicer)
13. Vicki (bread making tip)
14. Elizabeth (kitchen cleaning tips?)
15. Tricia (used frying oil?)


I just invested in one of those cheap packs of 10 or so washcloths. This means I have about 20 dishcloths now, so I can change them whenever I want to. I change them after working with raw meat, after accidentally leaving it balled up, after getting it really dirty . . . just get a lot, they don't take up much room in the wash. Definitely worth it!

I wash them in hot water on the extra-heavy cycle with plenty of detergent and bleach. The colored ones have discolored, but I'd rather have them clean than pretty. I'm buying only white from now on.

Don't do it! White ones will be brown after just a couple of washes, and bleach does not make them white again. I thought the same thing.

I had smelly cloths for a long time. Bleach, vinegar didn't work. Read posts here and thank you so much. Boiling really works!

Totally agree, one bout with a tomato-based sauce and they are dingy for life! No amount of bleach can save them!


I usually just let my dish cloths and towels dry hanging over the side of the sink or the oven door. I have a basket above my washing machine where I put them once dry. I usually was them 1 or 2 times a week, and I always use bleach. Although I have even been known to put a wet cloth or towel in the basket, I really haven't noticed a terrible odor since I've been doing it this way.

I posted a question about organization on my blog. I really need some help!


I use a dishcloth for only one day. I put the used one in the laundry every evening and get a fresh one the next morning while preparing breakfast. Just seems too germy to let it sit around. And I use bleach on them every now and then, maybe a couple times a year.

Everyday I get a new towel and dish cloth. I use paper towels after washing my hands tho.

I throw the dish rags and towels in the washer on the agitator. I do a load or two of laundry everyday so they get washed everyday.

I only buy white dish rags, so they can bleached, and not disclored. I'm concerned about germs, and spreading bacteria, hence bleaching the rags.

I always wash in hot water, and use bleach and detergent. Altho I want to start using the homemade detergent, since our grocery store has all the ingredients!

My sister's washing machine broke down after using homemade detergent and the repair man told her it was because of the build up or something from the detergent that clogged her machine - I know these aren't the right terms - just know that it can damage your washing machine and void any warranty you may have.

I go through a few dishrags a day. I use them to wipe up spills and messes all day long, so I'm constantly tossing one in the hamper and grabbing another.

I use some bleach every time I wash my kitchen towels. Every other time I soak the load for a couple hours before washing.

I've used vinegar too, and it works almost as well as bleach.

My solution has been to use a clean dishrag each day. After reading about how much bacteria is in the kitchen sink/dishrag (more than the toilet!), I figured this was a good sanitary practice in addition to solving the yucky smell.

We also use scrubbie sponges to wash some of the dishes, and we get a freshly laundered one out each day for that, too. When I instituted this new routine I told my husband we needed to use a "new scrubbie every day" and assured him that I'd buy more so that we would always have one available (since laundry gets backed up sometimes!). He was shocked and concerned and it took me a few minutes to figure out that he thought I meant we should throw a sponge away every day and use a brand-new one! I should have phrased it better...

Do you just throw your scrubbie sponges in the laundry? Does that work with regular sponges too? I hadn't ever thought of that. I never used sponges because I thought they were such a throw-away item...

Yes, I wash/bleach the scrubbie sponges with my towels & whites.

However, they're not like regular sponges--I like this brand: Dobie cleaning pads

So I don't know about regular sponges...

Well, for my bridal shower, I was given a few packages of sponges -- the brightly colored ~3x5" "normal" ones, whatever those are made of -- and I laundered them with my whites (and with bleach) just like I would launder a dish rag. They didn't get nasty at all.

After a while, though (maybe a few weeks for each sponge?) they did start to fall apart from use. So, not as durable as a dishrag, and I never bought more... :) I did enjoy using them though! :)

I put everything in the dishwasher every night. Kitchen drain basket (metal), scrub brush, sponges, etc.
If I forget to put the sponge in and it smells funky, I thoroughly soak it in water, put it on a plate and in the microwave for 1 minute. Don't touch it until it cools.
I also keep hydrogen pyroxide in the kitchin in a spray bottle. Put the sponge in a bowl not much bigger than the sponge; soak the sponge in the H202 for a whle. Wear gloves as the hydrogen pyroxide can sting. Wring it out. Wrince with water.
Hydrogen pyroxide can be used on kitchen counters in lieu of bleach and in stained coffee cups. Just noodle around online to find other great uses for it.
I'm a fan of natural products in the home as I've read that the greatest pollutents for people living in climates where we need to keep the windows and doors closed a lot, are household chemicals.
Buy a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Empty it and wash the bottle. Don't tell your family, but put regular drinking (super cheap) alcohol in the bottle and switch the cap to a spray top. It smells the same but without the dangerous chemicals that are added to rubbing and other drug store alcohols.

I only use scrubby sponges and they dry completely overnight. Then I run them through the dishwasher in the basket with every load! Perfect.

I put my scrubbies in the dishwasher and they come out perfect!

ETA: We do all our laundry in cold water, which is why I bleach our whites every load.

We use a long-handled dish brush for scrubbing. It lives bristles-up in a mason jar when not in use, so it gets to dry out in-between uses.

For lighter cleaning (mainly wiping up messes), we use cheap white cotton dishcloths. When we are done with one (b/c it is so gray or red with whatever we've wiped up that it won't rinse clean), I hang it on the edge of the hamper to dry, and I wash it with the next white load. We bleach our whites--that's why I bought white dishcloths. We sometimes go through more than one a day, but I have a HUGE stack of them, so that's okay.

And I may, possibly, have been so grossed out by one that was forgotten in the sink and turned slimy that I trashed it. But that wouldn't be very frugal of me to admit, would it? :)

It's best to use hot water. It kills germs and any bacteria in the water. As well as dust mites in sheets/bedding.

Bleach works just fine in cold water. I don't like using bleach, period. But if I do use it I use cold so we're not inhaling any bleach chemicals in the steam from hot water, bleck!

For others who like to avoid bleach you can use hydrogen peroxide followed by vinegar (or vice versa) for a very effective germ killer that doesn't have the harmful/irritating effects that bleach can have.

(Here is one link about hp and vinegar but there is a lot out there:

Yes -- bleach will work in hot or cold water. Hot water and bleach serve different purposes and don't necessarily have to both be used. :)

That's good to hear because we don't actually have our washer hooked up to the hot water, only to cold. :p

We also have the same problem. In addition to using a new rag every day we wash them in hot water with vinegar instead of fabric softener (if you were to use it). It works great!! Our bath towels and everything else would end up with "the funk" and that was never an enjoyable smell first thing in the morning. :P

Blessings in the new year to you and yours!

Well, when I was using old socks (your idea, which I loved...) they would not dry out as easily. But, since using what my husband wants me to use (he did NOT like me using old socks...) I don't have that problem. I am using homemade crochet dishrags made from thick crochet thread instead of yarn and they have a very open stitch to them. I don't know why my husband has such a hard time with my sock rags, but he wanted me to crochet them. He LOVES my crochet dishrags! LOL! I had made a bunch, just for him, on those rare occasions when he actually used one, but he wanted me to use them, too. Regular crochet dishrags are too thick for me, so I tried the thread and they are wonderful. By the way, it is NEVER a good idea to use fabric softener on anything that you want to be absorbent, like towels and dishrags. Anyway, that is my long disertation. :-D

In Christ,


One thing you could do is make fabric strips out of the socks and crochet those! LOL I would just cut into the open end of the sock and cut in one continuous circle all the way to the toe. I don't know if it would work but it could be fun to try. Then you both get what you like. I use crochet dishcloths too and I believe I will try it.

Rean Day

I never had any trouble with my crocheted dishcloths till this week. All of a sudden I took them out of the washer and they smelled. It is a musty smell. I have soaked them in OxyClean the also just boiled them in Cider vinegar water. Still stinky. Any more ideas?
I hate to bleach them because they are colorful. thanx, Renie

I use 20 Mule Team Borax to get the mildew smell out of my laundry that's been left too long in the wash. That mildew smell seems like it will never come out but a 1/2 of borax in the wash load returns them back to normal. Borax also gets out urine odors.

I have this same problem with my dishrags. Guess I need to be more vigilant with using vinegar in my washer with the towels.

I usually will soak mine in Oxyclean rather than bleach, so that my colored ones don't get so discolored. It also helps the rags last longer since bleach will "eat" the cloth fibers so you end up with holes in your dishrags before too long. Then after soaking I wash as normal.


Tammy--I love your site and have learned so much from it, so I am so excited to finally have something to contribute!

My husband and I use rags exclusively to clean up everything from spilled milk to our cat's hairballs, so we have an extremely vested interest in keeping them clean. For a long time after moving out of my parents' house, I used only paper towels because the memory of the smell of "sour dish rags" (even after they'd been washed) just haunted me. However, we didn't like using paper towels because it was so wasteful and we eventually figured out that what works like a charm is boiling the rags in a large pot of water (we have a huge wok we got from Goodwill, but anything works) on the stove for 10-15 minutes (bring them to a boil and let them simmer, maybe stirring a little with a wooden spoon) before draining them in a colander, letting them cool a little and then running them through the wash. It's totally nontoxic but kills any germs/mildew that might survive a regular wash cycle. And, it doesn't just keep the odors away but actually results in rags that smell, well, fresh. Actively good-smelling kitchen rags! It's a miracle!

Thank you, thank you for the tip on boiling the stinky dish cloths. Mine were coming out of the wash smelling like I had left them in a musty basement for a year and I just could figure out how to get rid of that smell. I boiled them in water for 15 minutes and took them out and even before I washed them in the regular laundry I was ready to hang them around the house as air fresheners. :-) What an amazing difference!


Try adding ammonia to your wash. I discovered this tip at the dollar stretcher website. I had stopped washing towels etc in hot (have lots of coloured stuff) and with two young kids covered in food and worse, my stuff was smelling no matter what I did. extra borax etc. I started adding ammonia to my wash for a couple of weeks (about 1/3cup) until all my reg stuff had a chance to go though the laundry. I wash on hot again and never had the problem again. my towels are looking ratty faster but no smells.

Someone had posted a tip on this - via your blog, and now I use it. I keep a small bucket under my sink filled with a bit of vinegar and water - and put used rags in there. I usually wash them (in bleach) after a day or two, as I go through them quickly).

I put my dishcloth on our heated towel rack (best Christmas present ever)!! Always put it there after doing the dinner dishes and it's nice and dry in the morning. Of course I also wash it w/ my whites and bleach. I also put my dish towels on rack to dry between uses and washes. I have about a dozen towels and cloths that I rotate w/use.

I don't use dishrags currently, but am planning to start using them more soon. Right now I use sponges, and the sponges tend to get stinky after a couple of weeks. The smell is caused by microorganisms that grow in the cloth or the sponge. I've found that once the smell develops, there is no way to get rid of it, but you can prevent it by popping the wet sponge in the microwave for one minute after washing up. Now I feel silly whenever I have to throw out a sponge, because that means I have not been sterilizing it. You might also need to use more than one rag a day.

If you throw your sponge in the microwave for a minute it will help to kill most or all of those nasty little critters that cause the stench. The sponge needs to be very damp or it will probably just burn. That's my guess anyway. Also, right after you steam you microwave up with the sponge grab a paper towel and wipe it out. The stuff on the walls should come right off. Blessings!
Tracy S.

Try hemp washcloths! I switched to these for our bathroom which gets musty very easily. They never smell moldy like my old wash cloths did after onw day. Hemp is naturally mold/mildew resistant.

Thanks for all the great suggestions and ideas, ladies! :)

It sounds like I need to use thinner dishcloths, change them more often (like twice a day)... and maybe boil my current rags so they have a fresh start. :) 

I always rinse out my dishrag in hot, soapy water at the end of doing dishes. (Even with a dishwasher, I do dishes at least 3 times a day--pots and pans and knives and such...) This "hand wash" really gets a dish cloth at least as clean as a run through the clothes washer. There is nothing magic about a clothes washer. I always hang up my dishrag in a single layer to dry out between uses. Occasionally I run some warm water in the kitchen sink and add a splash of bleach and let the dishcloth soak for 10-15 minutes (if it smells bad--because honestly the regular washer doesn't do much good if there is a bad smell from bad bacteria). This does tend to cause them to get holes, but it disinfects both the cloth and the sink. I change the cloth about 2 times per week.

I change my dishcloth about once a week or so, and rarely have a problem with stinky dishcloths. I am constantly squirting dishsoap on my rag, though, to wipe counters, tables, the sink, so it's constantly being handwashed with dishsoap and hot water, and not just wiping up something and leaving it, maybe that's why they don't smell. I wash them with my towels, which I wash in warm water, with Tide, and a small amount (about 1/4 cup), baking soda, and dry one load with 3 dryers sheets, and never over fill the washer, (about 5 or 6 bath towels, plus washcloths, rags), so there is plenty of movement in the washer, and I rarely have trouble with a stinky towel or dishcloth. Hope this is useful to you!

Since I don't have a blog to link to I'm leaving my question here. I know it's rather late for Tuesday but maybe someone will still read this and have an answer.

What does 'x' oz. of pasta mean? Up in Canada here, my packages do not have the measurement in ounces on it. I have packages that say '454g' etc. But when recipes call for 8oz of pasta (for example), how do I know how much it is? Do I have to weigh it out or is there an easy way to calculate it otherwise?

I apprecaite your help on this.

I just found a great site to help you with the conversions:

Check it out! I thought it looked pretty useful.

Do you use Google? You can type in the search box any math problem and it will solve it for you. I like to use it for the type of conversions you’re asking about. I typed in:
8 ounces = ? grams. Then hit enter and it came up with the answer of 226.8 grams. I hope this is helpful to you. DeDe

Thank you to both of you for answering those questions. How easy... and now I will know what I'm to measure out. So easy, yet I needed you both to enlighten me!
Thanks again!!

1 ounce = 28grams

Looks like you've already been helped, Jennifer! :) I am NOT very good with converting measurements from English to Metric, but that is the difference in the recipes, and using an online conversion calculator means I don't even have to know the formulas :P :)

I was having that problem for a little while and was confused as to why the problem started all of the sudden. Well, I got to the bottom of the detergent bottle and opened a new one and haven't had the problem since. The brand that was doing it was JOY and the new brand I opened was Palmolive. These can be bought pretty inexpensively at Walgreens on sale with coupons. I'll have to try that boiling the rags idea.


You know... I thought of that... because a long time ago I used the anti-bacterial dish soaps, and now I don't. I wonder if the anti-bacterial dish soap helped keep the rag fresher?? But I have read that the anti-bacterial soaps aren't very good for you... :| :)

I think that there is something wrong with the water in our area and that is why my dishrags smell sour so quickly. I never ever had this problem where we lived before. I wonder how many of us have issues strictly because of various minerals, etc., that we have in the local water supply.

I think you might be right about the water because I have the same smell on my face cloths, which I change every other day. It's a very distinctive, awful smell that almost makes me gag. I do wash my dishcloths and facecloths in bleach as well and it doesn't seem to help. Sometimes they can be right out of the dryer and as soon as they get wet the smell is there again.

If the smell is something like that of rotten eggs, then you probably have high sulfur levels in your water. I grew up at the beach and this was always a bear there. After we got a water softening system, things were much more tolerable. But even now, when I visit my parents, I am surprised by the smell. Maybe someone on this site has tips for reducing sulfur smells?

if youve let your rags and towels sit in the washer for a few hours, then of course they sour. If you just rewash them, it doesnt always work. You have to add a cup of vinegar to the wash to get the sour smell out. Bath towels, tshirts, rags and dishcloths, ect. My husband hates when his tshirts get left in too long. And i dont realize it by smelling the dry laundry cause the smell is only there after the cotton gets damp. :( Vinegar has worked every time for me.

I didn't notice anyone mentioning using Baking Soda in your wash cycle. I get out a fresh dish cloth each day. I throw the old one in a bucket. At then end of the week, I wash all of them on hot with All Free and Clear and a cup of Arm & Hammer baking soda. The sour smell disappears!

Since you have several stored away, this idea might be for you Tammy. I have one dishcloth at the sink for dishes, and a clean towel beside the sink for wiping off the counter, table, etc. I keep a spray bottle of half water, half vinegar with a pinch of baking soda and a pinch of dish soap. (You can also just do vinegar & water. I like the soap added since it is not enough to be quite bubbley but does have a little fizz to it like Windex). I'd put more than a pinch of baking soda, but that makes it erupt. :) Children love this. :) I keep a seperate hand towel on the fridge. It is 3 cloths, but I don't want to spread stuff around more than I have to, and it is easy to toss them into the nightly laundry. I add vinegar to every load and haven't had any smells.

microwaveing them in a bowl of water works really well, i've tried that too.

sometimes i just throw them in my dishwasher with a load of dishes on the top rack. this works well too if you have one.

Pop the damp dishcloth in the microwave every evening for 2 minutes. It kills all the bacteria and no more stinky dishcloth.

I sometimes mircowave a damp dishcloth or a washcloth for my kids for 30 seconds to a minute. Works great to warm it up & I think helps kill bacteria to keep the smellies away!

I just boil them in a pot on the stove for about 5 minutes. Works great, smell is gone!

What you are smelling is BACTERIA! I tried some Norwex dishcloths that have silver imbedded in them (which is antibacterial), and they have YET to get stinky! I only have to wash them about once a week. And the microfiber is so tightly woven, the bacteria that is trapped in there, can't get out! So when you hang it up to dry at night, it sanitizes itself and is ready to go by the morning.
I was so amazed by the products, I am now an independent consultant. Check out the website for more information!

My mother had this problem for years. I finally convinced her to throw them in the dryer and dry them thoroughly. It didn't help the dishrags that did smell but none of the new ones dried totally have been smelly since!

I use my dish clothes not more that 18 hrs and they stink, really stink,!!. My kitchen is clean, but the dish rags stink it up. I want to know an environmentally friendly solution! Bleach is horrible for our health and for the environment. Doing a wash EVERYDAY...Not happening. Buying disposables is a waste and a huge dent on our environment. I do buy the natural fibers, but still throw them away after a couple of days (and they are expensive). HELP! This stinks! Any answers? D.

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