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What is a Dishcloth?

By Alicia Sparks
Updated May 16, 2024
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A dishcloth is a type of kitchen linen designed to help people who hand wash dishes. Most dishcloths are similar in size and shape to a regular washcloth. In addition to cleaning dishes, these kinds of cloths can be used to clean tabletops, counters, and other kitchen surfaces. While the most common function of a dishcloth is to wash dishes, many people display decorative dishcloths in their kitchens. A dishcloth’s care instructions depend on a variety of factors, such as the material it’s made of and it’s age, but most functional dishcloths can be laundered in the same way other kitchen linens are washed.

The basic purpose of a dishcloth is to clean dishes. These days, many people have dish-washing machines in their kitchens, but that doesn’t mean dishcloths are becoming obsolete. Many people still use dishcloths to clean kitchen surfaces such as counters and tabletops. Too, some dishes aren’t dishwasher safe, which means people must hand wash them using dishcloths. Functionality aside, some dishcloths are strictly for decoration.

Like other kinds of kitchen linens, dishcloths are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles. Even so, a basic dishcloth is similar in size and shape to a regular washcloth. People can purchase dishcloths from most stores that sell linens and other kitchen-related items, or they can make their own using dishcloth patterns. Handmade dishcloths are commonly used for decorative purposes. If a handmade cloth is made from a sturdy enough material, it can be functional.

Unless the care instructions state otherwise, a regular cotton dishcloth can be laundered the same way all other kitchen linens are laundered. Typically, care instructions advise washing the cloths in warm water with a regular laundry detergent. The washing machine should be set to the appropriate cycle and the cloths should be washed with similar items. Yet, opinions vary on how long a dishcloth can be used before it should be laundered. General rules to follow include using a fresh cloth each day or every other day, and always replacing any cloth that smells sour.

Extra care must be taken when it comes to handmade dishcloths or decorative cloths made of delicate materials like lace or silk. How a person launders these kinds of cloths depends on the material, how well the cloth is made, and even the age of the cloth. Typically, these clothes should be hand washed with a mild detergent and laid flat to dry, but a washing machine setting designed for delicate materials might be gentle enough.

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