Our Kitchen Linens

posted by Andrea | 05/31/2016
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kitchen linens

When we were first married and moved all our things (and our ideas) into one home together, it didn’t take long for us to realize that we each had certain ideas of the “right way” to do things!

Oddly enough, one of our first “we do things differently” moments was regarding kitchen towels!

Dave was adamant that we have 2 separate towels — one for drying hands and one for drying dishes. I was adamant that we changed out the kitchen towels and washcloths every day because I just can NOT handle even the slightest hint of mustiness on washcloths or towels (especially not in the kitchen).

It took a little while for me to remember to use the “right” towel to dry my hands, and it took Dave a bit to remember to change out the towels every morning, but after 10 years of marriage, we have our system for kitchen towels, sponges, and washcloths completely under control 🙂

Whew! 

In all seriousness though, I feel we have a really great system for using, changing, and washing our various kitchen linens; and you might not believe it, but this is something I’m asked about very regularly.

Just last week, I got 2 more emails asking what types of kitchen towels and washcloths we use, how often we change them, what we do with the dirty ones, etc. etc.

So today… I’m sharing just about everything anyone could ever want to know about our kitchen linens! 

What Kitchen Linens We Use:

We use 6 different kitchen “linens” on a daily basis…

1. Hand Towel:

We use red striped hand towels from Grove.co. They are nice and thick, dry quickly, and I love the red stripes!

2. Dish Towel:

We use white cotton flour sack towels to dry our dishes because they don’t leave any lint (you can buy these at almost any home-goods store). We also use these towels to dry off fruit after washing it (mainly apples and grapes).

These towels are some of my favorites (they even made my favorite things list earlier this year) because they really are “lint-free” and they dry SO quickly!

3. Kid’s Cloth:

We use the Perfect Clean Wipers for pretty much all cleaning purposes around our house. We use different colors for different things, and the gray (or light blue) cloth is for kids’ hands and faces. Nora usually washes her own hands in the sink now, but we almost always use the same cloth for both Simon and James. Sometimes we’ll use different cloths if they are sick.

We keep this cloth draped over the kitchen faucet so it’s away from any dirtiness on the counters.

4. Counter Cloth:

We use the green Perfect Clean Wipers for wiping up the counters, the table, the highchairs, etc. We lay this one over the edge of the counter.

rags hanging on sink

towels

5. Dish Sponge:

We have used the Unger Microfiber Washable sponges for many years now — and we love them! Unfortunately, Unger no longer sells these sponges, so I’m down to my last 3 (others have been tossed after being washed too many times!)

I’ve been on the lookout for other thin washable sponges, but so far, I haven’t found anything I like nearly as much as the Unger sponges. I love using washable sponges because I can bleach them after every use!

We store our kitchen sponges and dishwashing gloves inside the cabinet under the sink (with all our other dishwashing supplies). I have the clear plastic container and the clothes pins stuck to the inside of the cabinet with 2-sided tape.

6. Cloth Napkins:

We’ve been using cloth napkins for 6 years now, and although they are quite stained, they are holding up fabulously. We all have our own napkin and we use it for 3 or 4 meals (or until they are pretty dirty). We put them on our chairs after each meal and then back onto the table when it’s time to eat.

Ironically, we usually pull paper napkins out when we have company over, just because we usually get comments like “Whoa, pulling out all the stops for company!” or “You don’t need to be fancy for us.” I’ve found it’s just easier to use paper and avoid those conversations.  🙂

What We Do with Dirty Linens:

Every morning, either Dave or I take the towels, sponge, and washcloths from the previous day and toss them into a small bin that we keep on top of our dryer.

We do it in the morning because the washcloths are always dry by then, so it cuts down on any musty smells coming from the laundry room.

Since we have 5 of each towel and 5 of each washcloth, I usually do a load of linens halfway through the week, and then again over the weekend — usually every 3-4 days. I include all the kitchen towels, sponges, and washcloths, and the bathroom hand towels, bath towels, washcloths etc.

I use HOT water and bleach to get them very clean and to make sure they don’t smell musty!

NOTE: If you have musty smelling towels, here are a few tips to get that smell out (and keep it out).

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Where I got my metal chicken towel holder:

Ever since I shared pictures of our kitchen renovation (almost 4 years ago now) I am regularly asked where I got the black metal chicken towel holder in our kitchen 🙂

I got it about 10 years ago (when we first got married) at either Hobby Lobby or a local garage sale… so chances are slim that you’ll find the exact same one anywhere.

I do remember feeling very excited when I found a towel hook with TWO hooks to accommodate Dave’s request for two kitchen towels! It has served us well over the years!

In fact, I even got a chicken towel hook for the kid’s play kitchen — which Nora thought was so fun!

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I realize it might seem crazy to have such an exact system for our various kitchen linens, but after 10 years of doing it the same way every day, it’s completely mindless. It literally takes seconds to switch out the towels — and even Simon will shout “blue” or “green” or “red” if you ask him what washcloth or towel to use for different things!

Although kitchen linens are a very tiny part of our home and our daily routine, having a system in place helps to simplify, organize, and streamline our kitchen more than you might think (or maybe we’re just crazy!)

How do you handle your kitchen linens?

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42 comments

  1. Tanya

    09/12/2017

    Hi Andrea,
    Just stumbled upon your site because I was looking for kitchen cloth systems, great post! Not sure if you’ve found a sponge replacement yet or not, but Norwex has just come out with one and it’s great in that you can also wash it (launder or hand wash) over and over, less waste, less sketchy sponge smells. It has microfibre embedded with micro-silver on one side (silver, natural antibacterial. Bacteria can not reproduce in a silver environment, no cross-contamination) and a scrubby side on the other. I’ve linked it below for your own review. I know this post is older, so also not sure if you’ve had a chance to try out your sister’s Norwex products, but if you haven’t, you really should! Changed my life and has reduced waste, saved money and completely rid my house of harsh chemicals. You might feel like a kid in the candy store if you haven’t used them yet! Thanks and take care, Tanya
    http://tanyasunshine.norwex.biz/en_CA/customer/shop/product-detail/147804?categoryName=New_Products

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  2. Anne

    01/11/2017

    Hi Andrea!
    I do as my mother and aunty have always done:
    – A small hand towel for hands
    – A plain white or striped or checkered dish towel for dishes
    – A dish towel with drawings for fruits/veggies (typically the ones that peopel have brought from holidays or with calendars on it from years ago – I have a few from my grandma actually!
    – A brush to wash the dishes (and a yellow and green typical Scotch sponge to scrape hard stuff that the brush does not get off the dishes, rarely used)
    – A microfiber cloth for counter, table etc
    I also toss everything but the brush and sponge every evening (I have a small but tall-ish laundry basket and I throw them on its rim, so they dry there overnight, then the next morning I push them inside it 🙂
    Not so different from your system, and it is known by everyone who comes around too!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, this does sound very similar to our system! Love it!

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  3. Megan

    11/14/2016

    We use cloth napkins as well. When people come over I still use them. If there is a comment like that I just say that we use these every day. They usually just say “oh”. And that is all that is needed. I hope more people decide to use cloth every day just because not only does it save money by not having to buy yet another “provision” for the household on a regular basis, but it also is not as wasteful.

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  4. Lauri Everlove

    10/24/2016

    I LOVE the chicken towel holder and can’t find one anything like it at all. It’s perfect!! I need something to hang so it’s not on the counter and and hanging so it dries… Thanks for sharing your system

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks — I get compliments on it ALLLL the time! I got it year and years ago — maybe look on Etsy or Ebay??

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  5. Debbie

    07/19/2016

    I discovered Swedish dish cloths several years ago and have been most pleased with them. They wash up beautifully. Many different sites to find them. Here’s one of them.

    http://threebluebirds.com/pages/whats-a-swedish-dishcloth

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for this link — these cloths look really interesting. I might have to buy a couple!

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  6. Sun

    07/04/2016

    I love this! We do something similar. I have the same requirements you both came up with. Multiple towels and Clean towels! I love your washable sponges. I do not use sponges regularly because I find them so gross. I do keep them for cleaning and for kitchen scrubbing as needed, but I sanitize them or toss them quickly. I don’t like them sitting around wet. I am not a germophobe, I just find them unsanitary. Your washable ones are my cup of tea! I have to find some! Your method of letting towels dry overnight and then storing them in the washroom is a great idea! I wash them every night because I want them out of the kitchen, but maybe letting them dry and swithching them out in the morning will work for us too!

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  7. Zwipes Microfiber Cleaning Cloths 24-Pack for $9 + Free Shipping

    06/15/2016

    […] [Photo credit: AndreaDekker.com] […]

  8. Chris

    06/02/2016

    It’s interresting how we all have our sytems. I do not like using the same towel for everything so I have one for dishes and one for hands. If I need to wipe down the counter I use a third towel and it goes in the wash immediately. I love to use towels that I find at flea markets and antique stores. They’re made in the USA and have stood the test of time, but for new towels I live the Grove Co. towels, they’re thick and wash up well!

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  9. Chris

    06/02/2016

    Well, I went to Wal-Mart yesterday after reading this, and I bought some flour sack towels. Wow! I really like them. Thanks!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yay, glad you like the towels so far! We’ve been using them for 10 years (I replaced them after 8) and they are still my favorite dish/fruit drying towels!

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  10. Amy

    06/01/2016

    This e-cloth cleaning pad might be just the replacement you are looking for in washable sponges. http://www.ecloth.com/All-Products/Cleaning-Pad.html

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for that link Amy! Those look EXACTLY like what we are currently using — just a little larger. I might just have to order a few! Thanks again 🙂

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  11. Janice

    06/01/2016

    SOP is the acronym used by the military for Standard Operating Procedure to make everything go smoothly and that is what you and Dave have implemented in your home. No wonder you seem to accomplish so much. Helter skelter practices in a business or home decrease productivity and happiness. That is not to say that a family should not allow for some serendipity which from everything I read about you, you know how to go with the flow and create a fun lifestyle as well as get things done. You and your husband are great examples, especially to your children. Love the part about how Simon knows the correct colors for different things. Hey, that’s trainin’ em right!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for sharing that Janice! I love the SOP — we have lots of SOP’s in our home and our life, and they really do make everything run more smoothly!

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  12. janet

    05/31/2016

    I’ve used “colored towels for hands and white flour sack towels for dishes” since our kids were very little… 30+years ago. Even the nieces and nephews knew which towel to use at our house. This kept the just-washed-but-not-necessarily-clean hands from staining the white dish towels. 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha “just washed by not necessarily clean hands” — we have LOTS of those hands in our house!!

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  13. Karen

    05/31/2016

    We do things pretty much the same as you do! We remove the kitchen linens every morning. I usually wash them with my other bleached items each day. I have two different towels but it is more for convenience than function. One can be used for drying dishes while the other is used to dry the table after washing. We use them for drying hands, fruits and vegetables, and surfaces. I also use a regular dish cloth and for cleaning. I purchased a box of industrial Scotch Brite scrubbing pads. There was 20 in the box and I bought them a couple of years ago. They are 6″ x 9″. I cut them into 8 small pads and they last over a month. I use them for food that won’t come off. I only use them on something that needs a little more “pursuasion” coming off. I also use plastic scrapers for scraping food off of things, or scrapping grease out of a pan into the garbage. The only other thing I use is a steel wool pad on my pots and pans when needed. Every couple of days after I have finished washing my dishes, I take the ceramic sponge holder, the scrappers and the sink trap and give them all a good washing while I give a more thorough cleaning all around the sink and behind the faucet. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for sharing your system Karen!
    It always makes me laugh how complicated it all sounds when it’s typed out — but it’s so simple and easy when you’re just doing it!

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  14. Debbie

    05/31/2016

    I changed our system a couple of times in the past 6 years of marriage. One thing that never changed is that we’ve always used a dish drying gloves instead of dish rag. I love this drying gloves so much because it’s super absorbent and it will never get mistaken for a hand towel by us or any guest. A friend saw it and wanted to know where I bought it but I also couldn’t find it at the store anymore. I hunted around the internet and found it on Amazon, ordered a couple and gifted my friend one pair. The gloves has loops and we hang them on our cabinet pull to the left of the sink. I throw it in the wash once I see dirt on them. For hand towels, we use a bunch similar to yours and we change it once a week, usually Saturday morning. We hang the hand towel over the cabinet pull in front of the sink. For our counter rag, we use a microfiber cloth and hang it on the divider between the two sinks and we change it once a week as well. I also bought a Norwex cloth rag that I can use for the counter but have only been using it for windows, mirrors and dusting. I would love to buy another Norwex cloth for the counter but we have so many microfiber rags that I’m sticking to it for now. Finally, in the past I used disposal sponge with a soft scrub on one side for dish washing. I would put in the dishwasher every week but eventually would throw it out. I’m so glad to have discovered the Norwex dishcloth! It’s a loosely woven, netted dish cloth that is fabulous at scrubbing, making soap suds, and it doesn’t ever stink up because it dries quickly due to the netting effect. It doesn’t absorb odor, grease, or debris. I love it!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, my sister has the Norwex dish cloth but I haven’t tried it yet. I’m intrigued by your dish drying glove though — I might have to check that out!

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    Debbie Reply:

    I highly recommend it Andrea.

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  15. Rhianna

    05/31/2016

    We have a similar system that has developed over the years. Gray for little faces/hands (the kids), smaller teal for high chairs/table, blue for counters, larger teal towel for dishes, and a rotating color for big (adult) hands. I have decorative wire basket in part of our kitchen area where things get tossed after use (and after they’ve dried so they aren’t sitting wet in the basket!) and I wash the contents when it is full. Our dish sponges get put into the dishwasher daily.

    We use old gray washcloths for our every day napkins. If we have company over we pull out the nicer linen napkins.

    I honestly thought everyone was like this (with some sort of system) until some friends were over and asked about the different cloths we have. It sounds more complicated when you explain it but, like you said, if you’ve been doing it for years it’s just second-nature.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — NO, not everyone has a system for this. In fact, I’m guessing many people do NOT have a system for this and that’s why I’m asked about our system so frequently. We have so many friends and relatives who think we are crazy for having a system for our kitchen towels and washcloths — but in my opinion, “systems simplify everything!”

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    Rhianna Reply:

    I definitely agree. Having a system in place simplifies the process. Probably why I assume people have some sort of system – why wouldn’t you?! lol! When my friends asked about it years ago they looked at me like I was crazy because to explain it makes it sound complicated, but it really is quite simple and makes kitchen clean-up a breeze. (added bonus is we don’t go through paper towels like crazy!!)

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I guess we don’t go through that many paper towels either!

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  16. Liz

    05/31/2016

    I had to laugh at your cloth napkin comments…..it’s the same over here. LOL.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I got sick of guests thinking we were pulling out all the stops for a simple meal — so we just use paper when we have company 🙂

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    Sun Reply:

    That’s funny! Let them use the stained ones and they’ll stop. I’d just use the cloth ones and look at them funny when they are that rude. And keep eating.

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  17. Dee

    05/31/2016

    Hi there,
    I was wondering if anybody knew of a solution for hair that is constantly attached to kitchen towels and washcloths. Both my daughter and I have very long hair and even when I get the towels out of the washer and dryer there are clumps or strands of our hair woven through the towels. Any help would be appreciated. Thx!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good question — my sister also has this problem!

    I honestly don’t know of anything, but I just posted your question as a Reader Question on my facebook page. Maybe someone else will have an ingenious idea?? You can follow along with any suggestions via this link.

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    Chris Reply:

    That’s why I don’t like microfiber towels. That same thing happens to me. It doesn’t seem to happen so much to regular towels.

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  18. Jennifer

    05/31/2016

    I used to have a big problem with musty washcloths in the kitchen because ours never dried out completely overnight and were always being tossed damp into a laundry basket. Alternatively they were draped everywhere trying to get them dry, and it always looked like a big mess.

    My favourite solution is having a lingerie hanger in the laundry room: it’s like a wheel shape which hangs from the ceiling and has clips for hanging up delicates to dry. It spins for access to all sides. Instead of tossing wet rags in a laundry basket, I clip them onto the clips and they stay there till they go in the washer. Same for cleaning cloths. That way they get thoroughly dry but stay out of the way.

    I got mine at The Container Store. It’s stainless steel and a thing of beauty!

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  19. Lydia Senn

    05/31/2016

    I love the Grove towels. I ordered a few with my credits and I was totally impressed with the quality, plus they’re huge.

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  20. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    05/31/2016

    That’s quite a system! I can’t handle nasty smelling washcloths either. So gross. We have a big pile of towels that get used for anything in the kitchen. I got a huge pack of microfiber washcloths at Sam’s Club that we use to wash dishes or scrub down counters. When they wear out, they turn into bathroom cleaning rags. I do a load of towels about once a week with linen bleach.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, it sounds WAAAAAAY more complicated when it’s all typed out. In reality, it takes a few seconds every morning to throw the rags and towels in the dirty bin and then put out new ones!

    Also, what is “linen bleach”??

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  21. Lee Cockrum

    05/31/2016

    Don’t think you are crazy at all! I don’t have kids, and husband rarely does anything in kitchen, so I just use cloth till it is dirty and toss into wash and get a new one!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — now that’s a simple system!

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  22. Ann

    05/31/2016

    I recently purchased (at a garage sale) a black metal stand with 3 curly-cue hooks at different heights and on different sides. It came with 3 cute jars containing candles but I put the jars away and use the stand next to the sink. We hang the counter/table cloth on one hook and the kids’ face cloths (different one for each kid) on the other two. I love no longer having a cloth lying on the side of the sink or on the faucet (which always seems to be in the way) and the stand hardly takes up any room.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    That’s a great idea Ann — Thanks for sharing!

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