How to Properly Wash Your Cleaning Rags 

Finally, someone who cares about properly washing cleaning rags! Welcome!


I'm excited to share everything I know.

how to care for microfiber towels

Let's just say, my husband isn't as enthusiastic about properly cleaning our cleaning cloths, that's why your interest brings me so much joy! 

In this post, I'll show you how to clean your dirty cleaning cloths, discuss specific methods for different types of cloths, and highlight some common mistakes to avoid.

Let's get into it!

Cotton and Microfibre Cleaning Cloths

Before we get into cleaning, It's important to mention that cleaning rags are made from different materials and the most popular are microfibre or a mix of cotton and polyester.

The washing method you choose will depend a lot on the material of your cloth.

How To Wash Cleaning Cloths

Microfibre and cotton cloths are washed very differently.

You can apply a microfibre washing guide to cotton cloths but never the other way round. 

Let me explain how microfibre cloths are made so that you understand why it has to be cleaned in a specific way. 

how to clean cleaning rags

Microfibre is made of polyester and polyamide (nylon). 

The fibres of the cloth act like hooks so when you run them across a dirty surface they hook onto not just the dirt you see but also 99% of the bacteria and germs you can't see.

This is why it's important to treat them properly because if you clog or destroy those fibres, the 'hooks' grow weak and will not do the job they are designed to do as effectively. 

If you want to care for your microfibre cleaning cloths, follow these simple rules:

  • Wash them separately from other laundry to avoid lint transfer.
  • Never ever boil your microfibre cloths no matter how popular it is online.
  • Avoid using fabric softeners which can clog the fibres.
  • Don't use bleach as it can damage the fibres as well.

Pre-wash 

Before I wash my cloths, I like to pre-soak them in a plastic bucket. Here's what I do.

soaking microfiber towels
  • Fill a bucket or bowl with warm water and a scoop of oxygen bleach and soda crystals
  • Dump your dirty cloths in the solution for a few hours or overnight
  • When the water changes and the dirt has lifted a little, move on to hand wash or throw in the washing machine

{READ: How To Wash A Spin Mop Head In The Washing Machine)

Wash

Washing machine:

If you choose to use your washing machine, here are some golden rules to follow:

washing machine setting for microfiber towels
  • Wash them at 30-40°C with a small amount of detergent. You can wash cotton cleaning cloths at up to 60°C 
  • If your machine has a soak function, you can use that too.
  • Choose the extra rinse function if you can.
  • Air dry on a drying rack.


Hand wash:

hand washing microfiber towels

Here's how to wash your cleaning rags by hand: 

  • Pre-soak your cloths in warm water and some oxygen bleach and soda crystals.
  • Do a first wash in the liquid you soaked it in.
  • Wash again in some warm water and gentle detergent.
  • Rinse thoroughly and hang to dry.

Dry

hanging microfiber towels
  • Heat is one of the biggest enemies of microfibre cloths so I highly recommend air drying the rags completely, preferably in direct sunlight for added sanitisation.
  • You can tumble dry cotton cloths at up to 60°C
  • Avoid tumble drying your microfibre rags, as they can damage the fibres.

How To Sanitise Cleaning Rags

Are cleaning cloths truly clean even after a washing machine cycle?

No, not always! This experiment on cloth sterilisation proves it and suggests that boiling and bleach might be more effective at removing germs.

Hold on! Before you grab the pot or bleach, remember that microfibre cloths can't withstand high heat.

Boiling hot water reaches over 100°C, and temperatures above 40°C can damage microfibres.

While boiling or bleaching might be okay for cotton rags, microfibre cleaning cloths need a much gentler approach.

Thankfully, there are two safe and effective options:

vinegar and hydrogen peroxide
  • Vinegar: This natural disinfectant helps remove bacteria and odours.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: This study shows that is effectively sanitises polyamide fibres (a material in microfibre cloths) with minimal strength loss.

So if you need extra sanitisation, consider adding either vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to your rinse cycle (machine wash) or rinse water (hand wash).

Remember, boiling might kill germs, but it will also ruin your microfibre cloths.

Things To Note

Here are some additional things that I would like you to know. 

  1. Don't put microfibre cleaning cloths in microwave: I see this online and it's the fastest way to ruin your towels. Don't believe me? This study shows how microwaves break down polyamides (the material microfibre cloths are made from)
  2. Don't wash with other clothes: Only wash microfibre with microfibre. Washing microfibre and cotton together will lead to lint transfer and make your cloths less effective
  3. Separate your cleaning cloths: Don't just separate your cloths by type but by function as well. I always wash my kitchen towels in a separate load from the toilet cloth for hygiene reasons

Conclusion: Keeping Your Cleaning Rags Clean

I've covered a lot on how to properly wash and care for your cleaning rags.

Remember, the key is to understand the material and follow specific cleaning methods for each type.

Here's a quick recap:

  • Microfibre: Wash separately, avoid high heat, use gentle detergents, and air dry.
  • Cotton: Wash with regular laundry, use higher temperatures, and air or tumble dry.
  • Sanitisation: Use vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to kill germs, but avoid boiling or bleaching microfibre cloths.

Bonus tips:

  • Pre-soak dirty rags for deeper cleaning.
  • Don't use fabric softeners on any cleaning rags.

I hope these tips truly help you keep your cleaning rags in good condition.

If you have any questions at all, hop over to my Instagram DMs to ask. 

I am always happy to answer! 

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Hey you, I’m Torera

Hey there! I am Torera, a home care and cleaning enthusiast with a mission to make cleaning as fun and easy as possible for women like you. As someone who had to learn everything from scratch, I have the mindset of a beginner and know exactly how to take you from A to Z. Let us ditch the overwhelm and create a space that is clean, cozy, and totally you!