How to clean cleaning cloths (including dish cloths, microfiber cloths, and tea towels!)

Dish cloths, microfiber cloths, and tea towels are staples in the home, but do you know how to wash them and how often to wash them? This guide explains how to was cleaning cloths and tea towels.

Updated 12 August 2022


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time7 minutes

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Dishcloths and tea towels are incredibly useful for everything from cleaning up spills to drying clean cutlery and crockery. But do you know how to clean kitchen cloths and tea towels, how to disinfect kitchen towels, (and, more importantly, how often to wash them)? Read on to find out. 

General tips on how to wash cleaning cloths

  • If you’re waiting to wash a load of cleaning cloths, store them in a plastic container with a lid so that they don’t cause the kitchen to smell.

  • Dishwashing brushes are generally considered the most hygienic option for cleaning dishes, as they are easier to rinse as you go and dry off quite quickly. These should still be sanitised frequently by soaking in a weak bleach solution.

  • If you’re using a microfibre cloth, consider cleaning it after every use to get the best results.

  • The main thing to remember is to squeeze as much water as you can from all your cleaning tools and allow them space to dry properly – warmth and damp make a haven for bacteria.

Germ-fighting laundry tip! You can also use Persil antibacterial laundry sanitiser when washing clothes to kill germs. Add it to the wash along with your favourite Persil detergent to give extra protection. It kills 99.9% viruses* and bacteria even at 20°C making it a great way to help disinfect your laundry and your machine! 

How to clean dishcloths and tea towels

Hands up if you rarely wash your dishcloths or tea towel! That’s most of us, because, after all, dishcloths are typically only used to dry dishes that have already been cleaned, so they don’t get dirty, right? Wrong.

Washing tea towels is important for two reasons. First, when you’re wiping clean dishes, you’re not only removing excess water but also any soapy remnants that can eventually cause bacteria to grow within the fibres. Second, a standard tea towel can absorb roughly 20 times its weight without feeling wet, which means that even if we think a kitchen towel is dry, it could actually be harbouring damp, which leads to mildew, mould, and so on. Want to know how to wash tea towels and how to clean dishcloths? Then read on.

How to clean tea towels: Detergents, settings, and cycles

Thankfully, washing tea towels is as simple as putting them in the washing machine. You can boil tea towels on a normal cycle in the washing machine without worry – linen is remarkably strong and it’s not necessary to hand wash (unless you really, really want to).

Wondering ‘what temperature should you wash tea towels?’ The answer depends partially on what kind of a wash you want to do. For a regular wash, you can put your tea towels on a regular wash – particularly if you’re using an effective detergent designed to tackle stains even at cold temperatures like Persil. If your dishcloths are particularly dirty, or you’re looking to disinfect them, then higher temperatures are recommended.

Want to know how to wash kitchen cloths and towels that have been used to wipe up spillages on work surfaces? Opt for a detergent that is focused on removing stains and will remove any small marks or discolouration, leaving your tea towels looking like new. For heavier stains, don’t be afraid to pre-treat with a stain remover first.

How to disinfect tea towels

A standard wash using regular detergent is effective at killing bacteria on tea towels, but if you want to know how to disinfect cleaning cloths and give them a deep clean, wash at a minimum of 60°C, adding a bleach-based product for added disinfecting power. Alternatively, using your usual detergent, add ¾ cup of liquid chlorine bleach into your washer’s bleach dispenser and then wash as usual. To find out how to clean dishcloths with bleach safely, and more general tips on using bleach in the washing machine.

Drying dish towels

Line drying is the preferred method of drying dish towels, as there is the risk that a dryer could break down the fibres, or melt any stitching or glues holding patterns together. Quite often drying towels naturally isn’t recommended because it takes so long, and leaving a towel damp for a period of time will encourage mildew, but tea towels are so small and lightweight that they dry in no time, so there’s really no reason not to hang them on the line.

How to wash microfiber cloths

When cleaning, a microfiber cloth is like a magnet to dirt and dust, clinging onto the unwanted debris and bacteria. But these special cleaning tools also need to be cleaned! The best way to wash microfiber cloths isn’t always the most obvious, and yet knowing how to wash a microfiber cloth is simple and straightforward, and it’s sure to transform your cleaning regime.

So, can you wash microfiber cloths? Yes. Can you preserve the quality of your microfiber cloth? Yes. The only ‘Nos’ you need to remember are:

  • NO heat

  • NO fabric softener

  • NO laundry detergent

How to wash microfiber towels in the washing machine

It’s always best to wash microfiber cloths on their own, but if you need to run a mixed load make sure it’s only with other non-linting synthetic materials – cotton is one material, in particular, that’s best kept separate from microfiber. Wash on a cool or warm setting with no detergent. Once the cycle is complete, leave to air-dry or dry on a low heat setting in a tumble dryer.

How to wash microfiber cloths by hand

Hand washing is often the most straightforward cleaning method, and with microfiber cloths all you need is water! Let the dirty microfiber cloths soak in cool or warm (not hot) water, and use your hands to help agitate the towel and release the dirt and grime. Rinse well and let air-dry.

Should you dry your microfiber towel in a tumble dryer or iron It?

No – but if you choose a tumble dryer, then be sure to use it on a low setting. Air-drying your microfiber will not only make it last longer but prevent it from picking up loose particles that often get caught up in tumble dryers and high heat conditions. If you’d prefer to use your dryer, only use on a low or no heat setting and do not mix with non-microfiber materials in the drying process. Never iron your microfiber cloths – the extreme heat of the iron will make the towel much less effective as a cleaning tool.

Cleaning a kitchen sponge

For the best results, clean your sponges a few times a week; otherwise, you’ll have an increased risk of bacteria growth, not to mention a bad odour around the sink. There are three effective ways to do this:

  • Place your sponge in with a normal cycle on your dishwasher if you have one, as the hot temperatures will kill any germs.

  • Wash the sponge in the sink with some very hot water and anti-bacterial detergent, working it into the sponge with your hands and then rinsing. Follow with a soak in a very weak solution of bleach and water (a gallon of water and a tablespoon of bleach) and leave to soak for an hour. Then rinse.

  • Place a wet sponge in the microwave and zap it on a high setting for two minutes. Make sure there are not any fragments of metal embedded in the sponge, and use caution with this method as the sponge could burn if it’s not properly dampened. Take care when removing the sponge, as it will be very hot.

How often should I wash dishcloths and tea towels?

Now that you know how to clean kitchen cloths, and how to dry them, you’re probably wondering how often they should be washed.

To ensure good hygiene throughout your kitchen, you should really wash tea towels after every use or, at the very least, at the end of each day. Of course, if you use your kitchen towels to wipe up stains and spillages, particularly if raw meat or fish is involved, then you should wash immediately to prevent the spread of potentially harmful bacteria.

And there you have it – the ultimate guide on how to clean cleaning cloths and kitchen towels!

*Laboratory tested on Influenza H1N1, Vacciniavirus, murine coronavirus (EN14476, 10 mins).

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