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#1 of 13 Old 05-17-2010, 06:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have already made the switch to mama cloth & cloth diapers. Now, I am contemplating how to replace our tissues & paper towels with reusable items.

I have the requisite old flannel sheet, old tshirts, etc. What I am wondering is how much mileage can I get out of towels/rags cut with pinking shears and then not hemmed? How quickly will the fabric fray?

Alternately, are any tiny handheld sewing machines worthwhile?

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#2 of 13 Old 05-17-2010, 06:34 PM
 
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we initially did this as well but honestly they didnt last very long between fraying and not really soaking up a lot (we have little ones with lots of spills) I ended up buying a few dozen washcloths from a box store. Actual wah cloths not those "baby" cloths. They are sold in big dozen packs for like $5.99. The last time I bought some were about 3 yrs ago and they are still going strong. We use them for everything...dinner napkins, cleaning, messes and what not. Prior to that we were going thru so much paper towels ( i have to admit im somewhat of a paper towel freak) so it has definatley cut that down, we still purchase paper towels but 1 roll literally lasts months.
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#3 of 13 Old 05-17-2010, 06:42 PM
 
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i also collected old hand towels and bought a couple packages of plain white washcloths. we use them for just about everything. i keep a roll of paper towels just for cat messes or something super gross like that. it lasts months. i use the cloths for everything from wiping hands to drying dishes to wiping down walls and floors.

i also use the old cloth diapers (the old fashioned ones that are just a big square of white cotton) for my mama-cloth. they work great, no leaking or anything

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#4 of 13 Old 05-17-2010, 07:27 PM
 
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Fleece and jersey knits are comfy soft and don't fray enough to care with regular cutting/tearing. I have rags in my collection that I brought from my parents' house when I left for college almost 12 years ago--and they weren't new then. Yes, the edges aren't perfectly even, instead of being - they are ~

Terry cloth, especially cheaper, more loosely woven terry cloth, frays horribly. You'd be better off buying new washcloths. That said, old cotton athletic socks work for most things washcloths work for. I consider them my "disposable cloth". If I don't want it in the laundry, I grab one of those and throw it away after use.

Oh, and if you did have a pretty fabric you loved and wanted wipe sized, any friend with a sewing machine and 5 minutes could whip round the edges in a zig zag.
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#5 of 13 Old 05-17-2010, 09:00 PM
 
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I use hemp jersey, but any jersey would work. I cut it in to 6 inch squares for family cloth and about 12 inch squares for napkins, cleaning towels, hankies, whatever. They all get washed together. Occasionally one will fray but not often. I didn't use pinking shears either. They work great.

Kathi

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#6 of 13 Old 06-19-2010, 08:59 PM
 
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Sorry to jump in here, not meaning to hijack the thread. Just wondering if any of you have encountered the problem of washcloths getting stinky after getting wet... sometimes the kids and dh don't ring out the cloths and then they just sit in the tub or whatever until I notice them. Then they smell stinky, even after laundering. Got any suggestions for us?

Thanks. And again, sorry to jump in.

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#7 of 13 Old 06-19-2010, 09:23 PM
 
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A lot of times the stinkyness is because of a build up of laundry soap. You can wash your towels without any detergent in really hot water for a couple of washes. Rinse until no more soap is coming out of the fabric. Most people use way more soap than they need to use. We make our own laundry mix and then only use a tablespoon per load.

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#8 of 13 Old 06-24-2010, 10:26 PM
 
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What about using hem tape to iron the edges together?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surfacing View Post
Sorry to jump in here, not meaning to hijack the thread. Just wondering if any of you have encountered the problem of washcloths getting stinky after getting wet... sometimes the kids and dh don't ring out the cloths and then they just sit in the tub or whatever until I notice them. Then they smell stinky, even after laundering. Got any suggestions for us?

Thanks. And again, sorry to jump in.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota's Mom View Post
A lot of times the stinkyness is because of a build up of laundry soap. You can wash your towels without any detergent in really hot water for a couple of washes. Rinse until no more soap is coming out of the fabric. Most people use way more soap than they need to use. We make our own laundry mix and then only use a tablespoon per load.

Kathi
Do you want to get another thread going about this? We might get some more good advice I'm just starting to use cloths and I've been wondering about the best way to launder them.

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#9 of 13 Old 06-24-2010, 10:44 PM
 
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Please feel free to initiate....

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#10 of 13 Old 06-29-2010, 01:41 PM
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I've been using cloth napkins forever. What's nice is picking up mismatched linen napkins from garage or estate sales. Visitors are also impressed with the touch of elegance paired with something as mundane as a cheese sandwich at lunch. We use one per person per day unless the food has been really messy. A couple dozen is plenty for most families. I wash mine in cold water with light detergent and vinegar and air dry. Every once in a great while, I'll wash them in ammonia (boo hiss) to cut any grease build up but our diet is extremely low fat as it is (no frying, no meat etc).

Old fraying towels are good for most wipe jobs instead of paper towels. I do use paper towels but only rarely and then I recycle them. I have a little container I keep them in under the sink. They go through one light duty cycle and I toss them in the container to reuse for nastier stuff like cat puke later. Makes me feel almost guilt free.

If you want to finish off the edges of old cloths for re purposing, a serger is a great choice. It cut and trims the edge in one pass. Obviously you probably don't have one if this hasn't occurred to you but maybe a neighbor does? It is very easy and fast to learn how to operate these machines but be careful, you may find it addicting and have to get your own equipment and start making more ambitious projects...
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#11 of 13 Old 06-29-2010, 03:50 PM
 
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I use vinegar in the rinse cycle for towels & cloths. That seems to get rid of any stinkiness!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surfacing View Post
Sorry to jump in here, not meaning to hijack the thread. Just wondering if any of you have encountered the problem of washcloths getting stinky after getting wet... sometimes the kids and dh don't ring out the cloths and then they just sit in the tub or whatever until I notice them. Then they smell stinky, even after laundering. Got any suggestions for us?

Thanks. And again, sorry to jump in.

Crunchy mama in all the waystreehugger.gif - DS E born 12/28/2010 bftoddler.gif- expecting #2 late January 2015 -hbac.gif 
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#12 of 13 Old 06-29-2010, 09:02 PM
 
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I use cloth after using the bathroom. I just cut up old t shirts. It is working fine for me. I hardly ever use paper towels. I am too cheap I guess. toilet paper last a long time around here. and if we run out I just get the kids to use the cloths too! I wash them with the regular towels on warm. I would like to use mama cloth after baby is born. we'll have too see how that goes.

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#13 of 13 Old 12-01-2010, 04:23 AM
 
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The small sewing machines and totally NOT worth it - you can find a good reburbished sewing machine on ebay for about the same price.

 

For rags and towels instead of paper towels - I get packs of bar mop towels from Wal-Mart in the kitchen section for like $4 - 6pk of larger ones, 9pk of smaller ones (I think) - they work great.

 

Tissues - I haven't ventured there yet - hemp jersey would work good, I think I might try flannel - but I would serge the edges. Don't know how long pinking them would work to prevent frays.

 

Good luck,

 

Erin


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