A dishcloth, technically classified as a type of kitchen linen, is a basic item that is needed in every food preparation area. The main purpose of a dishcloth is to help clean dishes, glasses, and cutlery as well as to wipe down kitchen surfaces such as counters and small appliances. Well-worn dishcloths are sometimes used to wipe up spills on floors, but such dishcloths should afterwards be reserved for floor use only; they should not be cycled back into the normal supply used to wash dishes.
Dishcloths are usually square and made of cotton or a blend of cotton and other materials. At times, these materials may include advanced microfibre technology; this can help a dishcloth to be more effective at scrubbing tough materials from dishes without scratching or otherwise damaging them. When dishcloths are made of 100 per cent cotton, the weave is usually looped or bumpy in order to provide some scrubbing power. A perfectly flat and smooth weave is far more characteristic of a tea towel than a dishcloth.
Most dishcloths are square and are relatively small, measuring between 11 and 13 inches on each side. This means that they are largely similar to the regular washcloths that people use in the bath or shower. Some dishcloths, however, are rectangular and are about twice as large as a typical square dishcloth. This allows them to be folded and hung like hand towels, which means they may be within easy reach when it is time to wash dishes. A larger size of dishcloth can also be helpful during the dishwashing process itself, particularly when very grimy dishes must be cleaned. Portions of the dishcloth may become gummed up with food particles, but a rectangular dishcloth provides more surface area, some of which will still be free from gumminess. When using a small, square dishcloth for a very dirty load of dishes, users may find it helpful to make use of more than one, discarding a gummed-up one in favour of a fresh one when needed.
The typical household in the UK may have both standard and decorative dishcloths on hand. Standard dishcloths tend to be of a single solid colour only relieved by small motifs such as pinstriping. These dishcloths are available at low prices, and because households tend to need so many of them, they are frequently found for sale in bundles of several dishcloths that match one another identically. For shoppers looking for a little variety, some bundles contain a number of different block colour dishcloths. Decorative dishcloths, on the other hand, generally come singly or in pairs, but not in larger sets. While it is certainly possible to wash dishes or wipe down counters using decorative dishcloths, most people tend to reserve decorated dishcloths for display use, only using them for cleaning tasks when their standard dishcloths are unavailable for some reason. Essentially, decorative dishcloths serve an aesthetic purpose and may even sport images associated with cultural events, icons, or even literary quotes. Popular examples include commemorative dishcloths as well as items that display prints from vintage advertising campaigns or now defunct, but iconic, brands.
Dishcloths Are Not Obsolete
Some people tend to think of dishcloths as an obsolete item. This is understandable since the average modern kitchen features an automatic dishwasher. Dishcloths, however, are still indispensable for cleaning counters and surfaces as well as for washing delicate dishes that require hand-washing. This latter category includes everything from bone china to fine Irish crystal to some kinds of cutlery. Dishcloths can also be used for clearing up spillage at the table in the event of a particularly messy mealtime, as the absorbency offered can sometimes reduce the possibility of seat coverings and tablecloths becoming permanently stained.
Caring for Dishcloths
Most dishcloths are made from 100 per cent cotton or a cotton blend, both of which can be laundered much like other household linens, using a standard detergent in a washing machine. Such dishcloths are also suitable to be machine dried. One of the most important concerns to keep in mind when using dishcloths is the fact that they tend to collect germs and other microorganisms. Experts generally advise that households should use a fresh dishcloth each day, relegating it to the laundry pile at the end of the day. Reusing a dishcloth without laundering it first can transmit germs, even when the dishcloth has been thoroughly wrung out in hot water. That said, a dishcloth that smells sour or mouldy should not be used for the rest of the day. It should be put into the laundry pile immediately or binned. The fact that dishcloths should not be used for days on end explains why they are sold in bundles and why households tend to need a dozen or more. Specialty dishcloths made of silk or lace are not common, but they do exist and are usually considered appropriate for decorative use only. This means that they will rarely need much care. Should they become soiled, it is best to hand wash them using a mild detergent and dry them by laying them out on a flat, clean surface. It is also possible to wash them using the washing machine set to the delicate cycle, but this procedure can be risky depending on the strength of the agitation the machine uses.
Some people recommend putting dishcloths in the microwave to disinfect them. While this can indeed kill bacteria and viruses, the procedure is controversial because it can present a fire danger, particularly when not done correctly. A dry dishcloth should never be microwaved as it is quite likely to catch fire. Experts who favour microwave disinfection suggest plunging the dishcloth into a microwave-safe bowl filled with at least ½ a cup of water. This should be microwaved on full power for a minimum of one minute. Removing the bowl from the microwave can present a scalding danger, so this must be done carefully, using a pot holder if necessary. Bleach is a common disinfectant, but studies have shown that soaking dishcloths for three full minutes in a solution of 10 per cent bleach was very ineffective at killing germs. An alternative to the microwave, however, is actually the dishwasher, which uses water that is much hotter than that which typically emerges from a tap. Putting a dishcloth in the dishwasher for a full cycle will help to disinfect it, but it will not kill all the germs. Care must be taken to make sure that the dishcloth cannot fall onto the dishwasher's heating elements, however, as this can present a fire danger.
Find Dishcloths On eBay
On eBay, dishcloths are grouped with tea towels into a single category. To reach the Tea Towels/Dishcloths category, choose Home & Garden from the main Categories listing, which can be accessed by clicking the drop down arrow just below the main eBay icon on the home page or most other pages on the site. From the options presented in turn, choose Furniture & Living; Cookware, Dining & Bar; Kitchen Textiles; and finally, Tea Towels/Dishcloths. An alternative way to find dishcloths on eBay is to use the search function built into the site. The search box is accessible from nearly every page on the eBay site and allows users to immediately see a range of listings that meet the criteria they have specified.
Even though most households have a dishwasher, dishcloths are still indispensable kitchen items, used for tasks that vary from wiping up spills to dusting off counters. They are also still useful for hand washing small loads or items that could be damaged in a dishwasher. Both decorative and standard dishcloths are widely available and can be found on the online shopping site eBay, which allows buyers to bid on the items in the hope of getting them for a very reasonable price.