Welcome to Recycle Less, where in this edition I’m turning into my mother.
Dish and cleaning sponges weren’t thing growing up aside from cleaning the car. My Mum used dishcloths of which I still have nightmares about. I think they were old t-shirts, or old clothes cut up. She boiled them every now and then but the same one was used for a long time. I hated the way they got slimy, the way the turned grey. I’m still shuddering. So much are my nightmares that if I smell even today them being sterilised by boiling which my Mum did once in a while I’m gagging. I remember in primary school I’m not sure if the school kitchen was cooking something or was boiling cloths however I remember whenever that smell was a round there was no way I was eating.
Because of childhood dishcloth trauma I’ve avoided them. I prefer sponges. Better at foaming, scrubbing, wiping down. However most are made of plastic or a type of manmade plastic. I’m trying to reduce the amount of plastics I use and it’s hard. Food and cosmetics are the number one plastic abusers. The last few years I’ve purchased vegetable sponges made with 100% recycled fibres with walnut fibre scrub bit by Spontex. While these come in cardboard packaging, others I’ve tired still come in plastic (some are packaged in biodegradable plastic) and a lot of energy and resources used in production. I’ve been fine with these replacing them monthly.
I was until YouTube kept bugging me to watch How to Hand Wash Your Dishes Like A Pro, With Rajiv Surendra | Life Skills With Rajiv on HGTV Handmade. I think because the algorithm knows I watch Hamimmony I like cleaning. FIY I don’t but I like a clean house. I ended up watching 14 minutes on how to hand wash dishes properly. I was okay, Rajiv tell me! One thing he said one thing that stuck out. You’re around someone else’s house and you go to wash up and what you find ‘is a nasty, smelly, rancid kitchen sponge ‘ you really don’t want to touch. I was surprise, washing up at the time and was hmm, yes looking at the sponge. He recommend not giving up sponges completely, they have their roles and preferred to use a dishcloth. I was horrified and carried watching.
Along with a weaver friend he came up with type of weave that was abrasive enough to remove food etc and did something what my Mum would never do (she might now. I don’t want to ask in fear of being teased I’m getting old). Use it for one day, then put in the laundry for washing on the basis this is more hygienic. My mind was huh, wow, okay, let’s try it out. See for yourself the video below.
Dishcloths as I found out aren’t thing in Spain. It’s sponges all the way baby. I thought El Corte Ingles, Spain’s only department store would have them. They only had thick small towels but they were too big to wash up with. I decided to try out some thicker weave 100% cotton tea towels with the idea to cut them into 4. 2 towels in a pack, that would give me 8 dishcloths for the week. I chose the pack below thinking the white and blue striped would be the better weave/texture.
To my surprise it’s the blue and white squares which work better although I prefer the feel of the white and blue stripes. I won’t lie it does feel more hygienic using them for one day. I use Marseille soap to wash the dishes and the cloths works fine. Admittedly I don’t have a lot to wash up and I haven’t noticed any difference in cleaning dishes, glasses, etc. The only difference is wiping surfaces there’s not always a drier wipe if you get me. In between uses, I let it dry over the tap in-between uses with the following morning let it dry in the sun on the balcony after a little shake over the balcony to dislodge anything built up, before placing in the laundry basket to avoid mould in the laundry basket the following day. They have shrunk but not by much. The only con is that as they don’t have a hem or edge they fray but this I expected as I cut them.
I also purchased some ‘official’ dishcloths from Casa, so I did find dish cloths in Spain! These are again 100% cotton with a different weave. I’m guessing this weave is to be more abrasive or aggressive cleaning. They are also a lot bigger and were more expensive. To be honest I don’t like these as much. They’re get heavy quickly with water, the weave stretches and sags and are cumbersome to use if you have small hands. I think the style of weave is similar to that of homemade dishcloths as I know you can crochet them.
With both if I’m cleaning a greasy pan or rather a glass oven bowl I don’t use them. I don’t want them to get greasy or have a faint old the smell of grease. Instead I use a wire ball thingy to clean.
As for cleaning the cloths themselves, I wait until I have enough and enough tea towels to hot machine wash.
Will I continue to be old school and use dishcloths? Shhh, don’t let my Mum know because I’ll never hear the end of it, but yes. Now I know you wash them everyday I’ve hardly touched the kitchen sponge. When I have ergh. I think cotton dishcloths a more sustainable way of cleaning if you can find ones that aren’t packed in plastic. Cotton is biodegradable and obviously there is less resources are used as opposed to making vegetable sponges. I’m still keeping sponges as I know I will use them, however for now dishcloths feel way more hygienic.
I’ll be sharing shortly the transition from bathroom cleaning sponges to using a microfibre cloth (I know plastic. If Hamimommy uses them, I can too!). Which is better?
Please share in the comments if you’re team sponge or team dish cloth!
Thank you for stopping by!