I don’t know about you, but it in our house if it can go into the dishwasher it usually does. There are no processions of helpers drying dishes (except for those who are coerced on special occasions) or damp tea towels hanging about.
I usually only have one tea towel, one hand towel and a couple of dishcloths and potholders in circulation in an ordinary week and it wouldn’t be unusual if the tea towel remained completely unused during that time. And so the question beckons, do I really need that collection of 20+ tea towels consuming space in my linen cupboard?
For me, I have determined the following number of each item work for my household and our lifestyle, including consideration for “peak” periods like Christmas:
- 8 tea towels
- 6 hand towels
- 8 dishcloths
- 4-6 pot cloths
- 2 aprons (I can get messy when I bake!)
Tea towels are easy to decide on – if it is threadbare, tattered or worn through, or one of those ones that never dries things well, it is time to go.
Pop the nice absorbent ones into your cleaning kit or use them in the garage for rags being mindful that you still need a limit on quantity so maybe some of the old greasy rags can be replaced now.
What do I do with the keepers?
Rotate through them so they are all used. Consider how you store them to facilitate this as if they are flat stacked, like clothes, we tend to only use the top 1/3. Consider rolling them, or when putting the clean ones away, put them at the bottom of the pile rather than back on the top.
If you have capacity, assign a drawer in the kitchen or some space under the kitchen sink to your kitchen linen. That means that they have a home where they are used and are conveniently at hand when you need them.
I have mine folded and stored in a basket. I have the tea towels stacked on their sides so I can grab one without disturbing the whole stack (see pic below).
Fabric softeners are not a good options when washing these items as the softener essentially coats the fabric in chemicals which reduces the fabrics capacity to absorb water. Instead, you could consider a homemade softener which is vinegar based (such as the recipes here); lower the spin speed of your washing machine; or pop them in the clothes dryer on warm or cool for about 10 minutes.
What do I do with the ones that no longer have a purpose for me?
New or unused tea towels can be “recycled” as a practical alternative to wrapping paper.
Assuming the pre-loved tea towels, pot cloths and aprons are in decent condition, donation is a good option.
Some Charity shops recycling clothing and textiles for industrial rags and textile by-products. Please contact your nearest charity to find out if they accept these items for recycling. Please ensure that they have been washed in advance of donating them for this purpose and label the bag appropriately.
Be mindful of pot cloths though, if they are getting a bit thin they may have lost their insulation and may no longer be fit for purpose so please consider others before you donate them.
If any of your items are well worn, have holes or stains etc. they probably just need to go in the bin if they can’t be donated.
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