Cloth napkins and rags feel greasy after wash. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 02-01-2008, 03:49 AM - Thread Starter
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We switched to cloth napkins and rags instead of paper towels almost a year ago. All of my cloth napkins feel greasy, so much that I don't want to use them. The kids and DH don't seem to mind but I cannot get them to feel clean. And the rags are just nasty. Some are greasy, most are seriously stained. So much that I don't want them out to grab one because they look so bad. I have a basket on the counter to keep them on but it just looks bad. Not to mention a guest is over and needs one and its all black and orange and whatever color it has cleaned up. Yuck. Help, how do you keep your cloth stuff clean?

Allison wife and mom to four. 

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#2 of 6 Old 02-01-2008, 11:20 AM
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How are you washing them? What are you wiping up with them? How long are you using them between washes? I'm sorry this isn't going well for you yet! Are the orange and black napkins you're referring to used or are they spreading stuff after being freshly laundered?

We are very liberal with our cloth usage here. Our basement door is right off our dining area so when a napkin is dirty, it gets tossed down the stairs to dry and wait for washing. Same with kitchen cloth and bathroom cloth. I wash all the cloth together and use some detergent (liquid Trader Joe's) with a scoop of oxi-clean and vinegar in the rinse. Our washer is a front loader and it has an on-board water heater so I do use it to crank the water temperature up past whatever it comes out of the hot water heater as. I'm not sure how necessary it is but all the cloth is pretty grubby and with the poopy wipes in there too, I'd rather make it as hot as I can. Our wipes aren't pretty but they're definitely clean.

Fill us in on what you've tried!

dust.gif & superhero.gif :: 9/2004
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#3 of 6 Old 02-01-2008, 11:32 AM
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I use wash cloths for our kitchen wipes and made sure to buy a dark color to hide any stains, mostly chocolate and tomato. Our "fancy" napkins are printed bandanas - HobbyLobby type places have prints for every season and lots of themes, characters.

Mine look and feel clean and I've never had an issue with that.

I don't cook or wipe up much greasy stuff.

I agree with pp, try washing with hot water. I never do, but sometimes, especially in winter, it takes a while to heat up the water.

mom to 14yr dd and 4yr dd
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#4 of 6 Old 02-01-2008, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Here is what I do:
Napkins get used once or twice if not dirty then thrown in the rag bucket. Rags get used to clean up whatever. Table, baby's face, counters, if they clean up on the floor I throw them in the rag bucket. I try and hang them over the side but the side is only so big so eventually some get in the bucket wet. I try and use the same one all day until dirty but usually end up grabbing three or four through out the day.

Wash is about every two days or earlier if the bucket is full. I do a hot wash with Sun detergent and lately I have been using bleach (ugh I know) but it seems to help a little bit. I also throw in bath towels and bath rags into this load.

I think my biggest mistake was buying a huge pack of white rags. So they just look gross. By orange and black I just grabbed those colors out of thin air. The rags are just stained whatever color they have cleaned up. I have a large cleaning rag pile for really dirty nasty messes and then a pile that is for on the counter. I think I should just dye them a darker color and make some new napkins. The edges of some of the napkins are fraying anyway.

What is the average lifespan of a cloth napkin? thats an odd question.

Allison wife and mom to four. 

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#5 of 6 Old 02-01-2008, 03:32 PM
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I know my MIL has the same cloth napkins she had when dh and I started dating- which was in 1999; so I'd say cloth napkins have a pretty good lifespan. My dh eats a lot, and I mean A LOT of french fries. So my kitchen towels and napkins can get rather greasy.

I handwash in a sinkful of hot, hot dish soap, and then run through a regular hot wash cycle. This usually does the trick. If your napkins are white (like mine are) you can soak stains w/ lemon juice, and then scrub with baking soda. It bleaches out the yuck without having to actually use bleach. Good luck!

Be the change you want to see in the world. - Gandhi
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#6 of 6 Old 02-01-2008, 03:53 PM
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Are you using fabric softener? That could lead to a greasy feel.

We use cloth napkins. I separate my laundry into dark clothes, light clothes and linens. The linens include towels, sheets, napkins, rags and are sorted into appropriate loads as needed. So napkins get washed with sheets/towels/rugs of similar colours.

I use Kirkland Signature (i.e. Costco) no scent/dye detergent.

Mom to DD1 (11/1999),  DD2 (07/2003), and DS (11/2012), all born at home and cloth diapered. 

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