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Speaking of Hand-Knit Dishcloths…

I realize that not everyone has the wherewithal or fortitude to accrue a huge stack of dishcloths. Enough that you can use a fresh one every day. This is clearly the ideal, but hey, life happens.

As does Dishcloth Funk, alas. Dishcloth Funk is when your dishcloth smells nasty as soon as it gets damp, even if it’s fresh from the laundry.

But I have a new solution for Dishcloth Funk: Pine-Sol. THE ORIGINAL, NOT ONE OF THE SCENTED FLAVORS. That’s an important distinction, because only the original has pine oil (which is what kills the germs). And the other scents aren’t cleared for laundry use.

Add half a cup of original Pine-Sol to your wash. Presto, shiny clean dishcloths, free of funk. And once they go through the dryer, the Pine-Sol smell doesn’t linger.

knit dishcloths

They come out the other end all fresh and new and ready for some super-Photoshoppy wedding photography-style gauzy romantic close-up action. As it should be.

I have mixed feelings about using Pine-Sol. It isn’t the greenest cleaner out there. The MSDS [PDF] lists sodium petroleum sulfonates as one of the ingredients, and the less petroleum in our lives, the better. But pine oil is what does the heavy lifting, which is pretty awesome.

The kicker is that it works so darn well. I can’t use bleach on dishcloths for obvious reason. (And I can’t use bleach anyway, because I have never once NOT ONCE used bleach without splashing it on my clothes.) I have tried adding vinegar to the wash, but it didn’t knock out the Dishcloth Funk.

13 comments to Speaking of Hand-Knit Dishcloths…

  • moiraeknittoo

    I wonder if you can soak the washcloths in straight vinegar and then wash? *ponders* Yours are so cheerful. I love them. :)

  • Have you added boron or washing soda to your wash? I can wash with just washing soda and boron sometimes if it doesn’t need to sparkle white.

  • Erika

    I always add half a cup of borax to the wash, because we have really hard water. And it does seem to get the clothes fresher! I use Biokleen laundry detergent (it’s the only one that doesn’t make my skin peel off).

    A straight vinegar pre-soak might well do the trick!

  • For a while there was no-splash bleach. But apparently there are not enough people like you and me — bleach-spillers from the word go — to sustain the market. Sad, really.

  • anargol

    I have had luck with wetting the dishcloth, wringing it out, and then microwaving it for about a minute. Essentially you are boiling the germs away. Be sure to let it cool down before you touch it!

  • Xeres

    I laughed so much about the bleach splashing. We all of us have our weaknesses. Mine is not so much the bleach, but the oil-frying. Burn myself EVERY SINGLE TIME. What is with that?

    I applaud your dishcloth-knitting mojo! I knitted one. Tried a second one. Began to lose the will to live. I really WANT hand-knit cotton dish-cloths but it apparently isn’t going to happen. Too many other projects, too little time.

  • Half a cup of Pine Sol seems like a lot to me; I put a cap-full in a load of linens with smell-killing results. There are other brands of pine-oil-containing cleaners available (and more cheaply) that may have ingredients more to your liking.

    Thanks for the kitten link; spent some quality time in that blog reading about bees, chickens, and baby goats at the laundromat!

  • There you go, filling me with dishcloth envy again…

  • Erika

    Half a cup IS a lot! Boy it kills that Dishcloth Funk dead! I haven’t experimented with using less – I’ve just been dumping in the half cup the instructions recommend.

    I didn’t realize there were other pine oil cleaners – I’ll keep an eye out for those, thanks!

  • Lisa Eaton

    I’m a bleach-splasher, too! I’ve had the same gallon of bleach for 5 years because I can only use it under special circumstances (i.e., when I am wearing my Bleach Clothes).

    If you find other pine oil cleaners, could you name them? My husband thinks Pine Sol smells like cat pee and objects to it!

  • Torch

    I am a bleach-splasher too!! I have ruined more clothes than cleaned. I’m currently working on my own set of knitted dishcloths and I happy to know the solution before I have the funk problem. I’m ahead of the game for a change. Thank you!

  • noel

    Thanks for the tip. Have you tried either of these before?
    http://www.lehmans.com/store/Home_Goods___Cleaning___Cleaners_and_Polish___Old_Fashioned_Pine_Cleaner___pineClean?Args=
    It contains 90% pine oil, most store ones contain about 3%.

    And,
    http://www.drbronner.com/DBMS/SSLI16/SalSudsLiquidCleaner.htm

    I’ve used Dr. Bronner’s as a laundry detergent alone and was really pleased with how well it works. (I have sensitive skin and can’t handle the regular store stuff)

  • chris

    I find it interesting that I can take a normal face cloth use it for 3 days … Leave it wadded up at the bottom of my sink and it doesn’t smell. Then I pull out clean knit dishcloth, use it only one time and it smells disgusting.

    I don’t have to do any special cleaning to my non-yarn cloths to keep them from smelling other than washing them in the laundry.

    Perhaps the solution for smelly knitted dishcloths is to stop making them. Has anyone thought that this cute dishcloth material isn’t meant for being a dishcloth? For example, hospitals don’t use toilet paper in place if gauze for wound care just because its absorption qualities are similar.

    The point is these cloths smell after one use and perhaps the solution to this is to look not at the symptoms, but to the root cause. Yarn isn’t meant to be a dishcloth. And to think people have to devise a system for cleaning their yarn based cloths seems silly when traditional facecloth material needs no such thing.

    And yes, I know they’re cute and people spend time making them as gifts, but think about it, why give someone these gifts of they are going to smell after one use.