The care and keeping of dishcloths
It seems to me that there are two sorts of housekeepers in this world: those who use dishcloths, and those who use sponges.
I was raised the dishcloth way. I like them because they're almost infinitely reusable; because you can feel grime through them when you scrub; because you can wash them in the washing machine; because they dry out quickly.
I have read/heard of lots of people complaining that their dishcloths smell bad. I've been there too, and it still happens to me when I'm not vigilant. It is important to keep dishcloths odor-free, because smell is a sign of bacteria. Here are several things I do to ward off the smell.
1. If you do anything particularly dirty or nasty with your dishcloth, change it to prevent spread of bacteria. I change mine every time it has any sort of contact with raw meat.
2. Keep your dishcloth well wrung so it can dry between uses. Bacteria like wetness.
3. Change your dishcloth every day. I let mine dry overnight. In the morning, I get a new one out and put the old one in the laundry basket under the kitchen sink. Theoretically.
4. Don't let wet dishcloths languish in your laundry basket. They will smell and mildew and I don't want to think about what else. Hang them up to dry first.
5. Wash in hot water with bleach. I know cold water is popular for saving money, and I know bleach is unpopular with the new green cleaning movement, but really, how else are you going to kill germs and keep odors at bay? I do my kitchen laundry on the heaviest cycle with the hottest water with plenty of soap and bleach. A cup of vinegar in your washing water is not going to kill those germs.
6. Choose dishcloths carefully, and have plenty on hand. I like them to be 100% cotton and very absorbent. They need to be able to stand up to heavy laundering (nothing makes me laugh more than a dishcloth with a tag that instructs you to wash it in cold water only). They should be substantial enough to stand up to a good scrubbing, but thin enough to dry quickly. My favorite dishcloths are those cheap, big packs of washcloths that you can pick up at Target, and probably elsewhere too. The material is thin enough to dry quickly, but the terry cloth gives great scrubbing power.
Are you a sponge person or a dishcloth person? What do you do to keep them clean?