How to Launder Kitchen + Cleaning Cloths

How to Launder Kitchen and Cleaning Cloths main via Clean Mama

It is not a secret that I am a big fan of using cloth when it comes to cleaning. I use microfiber for many cleaning tasks and prefer using cloth over paper whenever possible. I’m often asked how I care for microfiber cloths and how I launder kitchen towels and rags to keep them clean and performing their best. Today, I’m here to help!

Microfiber Cloth Care:

If you were to take a peek in to my laundry room, you would see a bucket with my microfiber cloths in it. After using them, I drape them over the side until they are completely dry to prevent mildew and/or or stinky odors. When they are dry, in the bucket they go. I wash them on a weekly basis or when the bucket is looking a bit full.

Keep a Bucket for Dirty Cleaning Cloths in the Laundry Room via Clean Mama

Microfiber is a real workhorse in the cleaning supply world. It’s durable, very efficient at cleaning all sorts of things and environmentally friendly. It also is very good at picking up the fibers of anything it is washed with. Here’s how I launder microfiber to keep it performing at its best:

  1. Wash microfiber all by itself. If you wash it with other rags or towels, the fibers from other cloths will transfer and stick to the microfiber.
  2. Wash on hot with detergent and no fabric softener. Fabric softener will coat the cloth and render it far less absorbent. Stick to detergent only.
  3. Dry on hot with no dryer sheets. Just like fabric softener, the chemicals in the dryer sheets will put a thin layer of on the fibers and make them less efficient.

Looking for the best microfiber?  Check out Clean Mama Home!

Bar Mop Towels, Rags and Kitchen Towels:

As a general rule, I prefer using white towels and rags as much as possible. I love their clean, bright look, that they match with anything, are easy to clean and non-fading. I also love using cute patterned dish towels to add a little fancy to the kitchen.

Tips for Washing Kitchen Towels via Clean Mama

If you have followed me awhile, you’ve probably seen the glass canister on my kitchen counter with rolled up white bar mop towels in it. I love bar mop towels (come see the Clean Mama Home bar mop towels here) over rags in the kitchen for several reasons. They are larger in size than the typical kitchen rag and are more absorbent. I use them for cleaning up drips and spills, wiping down counters and general kitchen cleanup. I prefer using sponges for washing dishes as it is easier for me to just put it in the dishwasher nightly rather than having to launder another item.  I have a hook hanging in the interior under my kitchen sink that I hang damp items on until they are dry.  This method keeps any stink away.

Hang Kitchen Cloths on the Back of Cupboard Door to Dry via Clean Mama

As for laundering kitchen towels and rags, it doesn’t look too much different than how I care for microfiber. Unless it is a brand new colorful kitchen towel, I wash all my kitchen towels and rags together.

  1. Wash using just hot water and detergent. Using fabric softener might help add some scent, but it also leaves behind a residue that causes towels to get dingier, be less absorbent and have a shorter life span.
  2. Dry on hot or high with no dryer sheets.

Have stains or need some general brightening? I like to add a scoop of oxygen safe bleach. You can use Oxi-Clean or a similar product. For a powdered version, I especially like The Laundress All-Purpose Bleach Alternative or if you prefer liquid, Seventh Generation’s Bleach Alternative.

What’s your method for laundering your kitchen towels and cleaning cloths?

How to Launder Kitchen and Cleaning Cloths via Clean Mama


  1. How often should microfiber oths be replaced? Do they lose their effectiveness?

  2. Thanks! I was really wondering how you use white towels for cleaning. All of my kitchen towels seem to get so stained and dirty/dingy quickly. So you have no issues with wiping up grease or berry/tomato/etc juices?

    • That was my question….plus, we are on well wster, rages dingy to a whole new level. And my bf always uses my light colored towels for bbq sauce, ketchup….all the nasty stuff he can find, it seems like. Lol

  3. Also wondering how you keep the white so nice! I have most bright colors (blue, green, red, orange) in hopes that it hides the stains, but they still end up stained! Thanks!

  4. I’ve always air dried my microfiber cloths because the package had those instructions.

  5. Would love to see a picture of your jar holding the bar rags. Thanks for all your inspiration

  6. I have been using the same white bar mops as you show. Mine are sooo stained its embarrassing. Coffee stains and smoothies stains. I use the Shaklee bright with my regular detergent and it just doesn’t help. Anyway great topic. Always good to cut out or down on paper towels

  7. I wash all my towels in hot water and detergent, sometimes with bleach. My towels are colorful. They are dried on hot no dryer sheets or softener. I do separate by use. Kitchen items separate from bath and cleaning. Cleaning rags by themselves.

  8. Thanks for the fun tips!

  9. We recently moved and inherited an LG washing machine (it’s about 3 years old). I just had a service tech out this morning because I couldn’t get hot water to fill the tub. He said most newer washers limit how hot the water will be because of some environmental thing. So now how do I wash my rags in hot water like you do?? What brand of washer do you have?

    • I have a Whirlpool HE machine and it has a sanitize cycle – I use that cycle to make sure that they get clean. You could also see if you can turn your hot water up on your water heater to get that to heat up a bit more too. If you have a sink in your laundry room, run the hot water before you start the wash cycle. Hope that helps!

  10. MonroeMom says:

    Regular chlorine bleach in hot water will get rid of stains and any icky kitchen germs. Use 100% cotton towels just so you can bleach them. Anything that touches my food, my face, or my bottom gets bleached in hot water, no exceptions! lol

  11. Thank you for such a helpful post. I use towels and rags almost exclusively in our kitchen, too. I am going to adopt some of your practices, though, for keeping away the stink and keeping them clean. I do use dryer sheets on my laundry, so that is one thing I might stop. I’m definitely going to be better about hanging things to dry before tossing them in the basket. Now I have an excuse to get some new white towels– a clean and fresh start! 🙂

  12. Jenny Lambert says:

    Where did you get the aqua buckets with the rope handles? Finding cute buckets is hard and cute things make cleaning so much more fun!!

  13. Where do you find white bar mops? Which microfiber cloth brand do you use?

  14. If you have already washed and dried your microfiber cloths with other cloths can you ever get the extra fuzzy fibers off?

  15. Susie Mossrose says:

    I will de-grease any kitchen towels used around the stove etc. by soaking them in hot water with some dish detergent before I launder them. I use cloth and try not to buy paper towels except in the case of sick pets.

  16. Thank you for this! I always just throw all mine in and put them on the sanitize cycle. Lots to learn!

  17. Id like to know where you found that white little tub that holds your cleaning supplies? I love it!

  18. I usually add pine sol or Lysol to disinfect my towels. A drop or two of Dawn gets rid of oil. If you have white towels that are stained, hanging them in the sun helps to get the stains out.

  19. I boil my Norwex cloths. (Microfibre).

    Also…. I noticed that you hang your towels on your kitchen doors. Not recommended as this can warp your door! Wet towels shouldn’t be on wood.

    • I let them dry over the faucet and then I put them on the back of the door 🙂

    • Frugalmomofmany says:

      I put contact paper on my wall where I hang my Norwex cloths. I’m sure you could do the same thing to protect the wood and be able to hang them up wet.

  20. Marianne says:

    I love the microfiber cleaning towels and pads, but the washing instructions state you should not use any softener, dryer sheets, bleach or oxi clean??? Your blog said you can use oxi clean, my micro fiber pad for my steam mop will not come clean with just detergent! Help

    • Follow the instructions given – never use bleach or fabric softener on microfiber – I haven’t had any issues with oxi clean and my steam mop pads 😉

  21. Hi, Clean mama! Can I use white vineager instead of fabric softner? I’m thinking about rinsing microfiber cloths with white vineager and then using your bucket system for keeping them together and out of the regular washing.The vineager would also stop any odors or mildew from forming. My boyfriend and I are thinking of moving in together in a couple of months and I’m looking around for ideas for a number of household systems (including the washing and daily cleaning). Any tips? Thnx

    • Hi Annick! Yes, you can use white vinegar instead of fabric softener. I don’t know that I’d recommend rinsing the microfiber in vinegar but maybe put a little bit in the bottom of the bucket? I find that they are fine as long as I let them air dry before putting them in the bucket 🙂

  22. I also separate cleaning cloths from basic laundry items. However, when there is a load if cleaning items, dish towels, etc., I do the first washing by adding baking soda and vinegar only. Let it run through the whole wash rinse cycles. This helps with cloth absorption. Then I repeat using detergent and bleach. I ALWAYS use bleach. This really cleans them perfectly. I always use the hottest water for both loads. Never never use fabric softener or dryer sheets.

  23. Susie Sweany says:

    I don’t use the microfiber towels. I use the regular towels for the kitchen and the bathrooms. My towels seem to stink, especially the kitchen towels, after a few uses. I have started using baking soda in the wash when I wash my towels. Is that a good thing to do? Or should I do something else to keep the stink out of the towels?

    • Make sure you are letting them dry in between uses – that might be contributing to the stink.

    • I was just going to post that all these people must never get a build-up of grease, even around the stove. And also very new washers. I’m not a good housekeeper. Days can pass when the stove isn’t wiped down. At that point, any material I use to clean is too saturated with grease to spend an hour or more devoted to cleaning that material. I would not ever put a greasy thing into the wash – I would wash by hand, but then, time is devoted to cleaning the cleaning material instead of keeping on with the cleaning. I rarely use paper towels. When I do wash cleaning materials, mine stink, too, even with care, so I’m with you on that. I don’t want to use bleach. I will not use any scented laundry, or other products, due to their toxicity. Cleaning cleaning rags will always remain a problem for me, I guess.

  24. Denise Gaffney (Botswana) says:

    I boil my dish cloths in a pot with slices of lemon and a table spoon of washing power. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 mins, drain the boiling water, place in the washing machine, rinse, spin and put in the sun to dry. They smell so nice and will last for years. My children love the smell and call it “dish cloth soup” It really works and your dish cloth are now sterile, very absorbent and smell great.

  25. How do you keep your towels so white? I would be scared to use white towels in the kitchen with the amount of coffee that gets spilled.

  26. I ordered your bar mop towels and microfiber cloths from your website. I’m confused because the washing instructions on the cloths say to wash in cold water. Here you are saying to wash them in hot water?

  27. Hi Becky,

    I’ve been having trouble finding a decent dish towel that actually DRIES! So many cute ones just push the water around. What do you recommend? It seems the thinner, flour-sack kind work well, but get wet so quickly.

  28. I found my bar mop towels at Walmart as well. Which I’m needing some new ones anyways, lol. I keep a small laundry basket, very small one in a corner of my kitchen for dish towels only. I’ve always washed mine separately from bath or other laundry. Don’t wantnhair & whatever else to getbon my dishes. I use the hottest setting, with vinegar, borax, baking soda to make them fluffy & sometimes bleach to get them sterilized. Do NOT mix all these together, it’s one or the other for cleaning power. I do use baking soda & vinegar together as well as Lemon EO or juice for whitening. You can use washing soda too & if you can’t find it, spread baking soda on a cookie sheet & bake. Same thing. Lots of ideas on Pinterest too. Love the page & WONDERFUL tips!!

  29. Jaime Benavides says:

    I was curious. Do you prewash brand new bar mop towels?

  30. If I get stinky cloths, I wash them on sanitize with some Biokleen Bac-Out (added directly to the load, then putting regular detergent in the dispenser). It’s my go-to for all stinky things.

  31. I had a lot of trouble with stinky, dirty cloths. I wash all my towels; microfiber, cotton, bath, kitchen, whatever – together in hot water with detergent and a cup of vinegar. Then dry on hot until completely dry. I haven’t had any problems since.

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