Open weave cotton dish cloths

I used to be known as a bit of a dish cloth obsessive.  If the real truth is known, I still am. 🙂 How can you not love something you can make yourself in a few hours, that can be used over and over again, is easy to wash and dry and can help you with your daily household tasks.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about our friend, the knitted cotton dish cloth.


When I started knitting these many years ago, I used whatever needles where suitable for the cotton I was using. Now I use oversize needles because it produces an open weave instead of a tight weave. I believe open weave cloths are better because they often dry out between use, if I hang them on the tap, and that means it's harder for bacteria to build up in the cloth. Bacteria need moisture to multiply and if you've got a constantly moist dish cloth, the bacteria are probably multiplying.  This happens on all dish cloths, sponges and scrubbers. The combination of water and food is an open invitation to bacteria. 

Dishcloths need to be washed regularly. Sometimes I do mine daily, sometimes every second day and every so often, I soak all of them in oxy bleach. I hang them over the side of the laundry basket until I'm ready to wash them in cold water and homemade laundry liquid, then they hang in the sun to dry. The open weave allows the sun to hit more of the yarn as it dries. Line drying cloths in the sun helps disinfect, bleach and deodorise them. When they are placed back in the kitchen drawer, they're germ-free and ready to rock and roll. I don't use dish cloths to clean up any floor mess. When I have floor spills, grease or burnt food, I clean up with my recycled cotton rags.

Below: A closeup of the cloth above made using 15mm needles.

I don't use microfibre cloths anymore because it's been discovered they are the biggest pollutant in our oceans.  Read the report here.  Every time microfibre is washed, thousands of microscopic threads go down the drain and often end up in the ocean. It's killing marine life.

I like to knit in garter stitch - just plain knitting, repeated every row until I reach the size I want the cloth to be. It's the easiest stitch, it gives a good texture for cleaning and I can motor away, knitting these cloths while I'm talking to people or watching TV.  How to knit garter stitch.    If you'd prefer to knit a more complicated pattern look at these: Dish cloth knitting patterns. I hope you feel encouraged to try knitting these. It doesn't matter if you make a couple of mistakes, I know that with each dishcloth you knit, you'll improve.


The only difference in the knitting now is that I use larger needles and that creates the open weave.  For example, all the photos here today are cloths knitted on needles larger than those recommended for the yarn. The red cloth that I cast on in the car the other day is 8ply organic cotton from Eco Yarns on 5.5mm needles. You can't see it in the photo but when you hold it up, you can see through the cloth.  The brown and pink cloths are 8ply from Spotlight on size 10mm needles. The green and white cloth is a 5ply organic Japanese cotton from Eco Yarns which is not stocked now. I used size 15mm needles for that cloth and knit using one strand of green and one of white. 

Knitted dish cloths are the fibre equivalent of our homemade laundry liquid.  Both only take a short amount of time to make up, you do it every few months to top up your supplies, they save a lot of money, are environmentally friendly and a pleasure to use. If you haven't tried making your own dish cloths yet, take the plunge now and see how you go with it.  I think you'll like them.

ADDED LATER:  I just received an email from Salihan at EcoYarns.  When she read I was doing a post about dishcloths she organised a special sale for us.  

The discount code to use is DISHCLOTH and it will give D2E readers 10% off the following dishcloth (and facecloth) friendly yarns. The discount code will expire on Sunday night (16 July):

Eco-Organic Cotton Virtues:
https://ecoyarns.com.au/products/hemp-for-knitting-allhemp6-8-ply
(highly recommended as it very durable, naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal)



58 comments

  1. Oh, I've been waiting for this post. Your dishcloths look great Rhonda. I especially love the red one that's featured. I'm going to try your method. I like the crocheted ones for the same reason. The colors of your cotton yarn are so pretty!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I l.o.v.e hand knit dishies!! I could easily make them myself, but a local thrift store volunteer makes them out of donated cotton yarn so I buy them there instead and support a local business. Every morning I change my dishie and kitchen towel. It is a wonderful simple ritual!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love knitting and using washcloths. The first one I ever made was used the pattern from your book:) I prefer the open weave cloths as well because I do think they dry out more quickly. I change my kitchen washcloth every day. I begin with a fresh one each morning and hang it over the tap during the day. After the kitchen is "closed" in the evenings, I take the used cloth and hang it over the side of the soaking bucket in the laundry where it waits to be washed. Washcloths make a lovely gift too, I often give them to friends with a lovely bar of beautiful soap. Meg:)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Rhonda, Thankyou so much for this, it is exactly what I needed to get me started. Have a lovely day.
    Fi

    ReplyDelete
  5. That all makes perfect sense to me regarding the open weave and bacteria. I've made all of mine with 8ply wool using thinner needles. My next lot will be with larger needles and all in garter stitch.
    Can you use 8ply for most needle sizes when knitting dishcloths and how many stitches do you usually cast on with?
    I will also start soaking mine too. I have the DiSan Oxy from Aldi in the purple container which I'll use.
    Thanks for all of your tips Rhonda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kylie. Cotton is a more suitable yarn for dishcloths. It's easy to wash and will dry quickly. Yes, 8 ply or two strands of 4 or 5 ply is excellent for this. I use up the end bits of my organic cotton from EcoYarns. They're really absorbent.
      The larger the needles the fewer stitches you cast on. I cast on about 25 stitches when I use 15mm needles and between 30 - 40 for 6mm - 10mm. But it's best to work it out as you go. Do what you think is right, then if it needs modifying, adapt it on your next cloth. Whatever you produce will be useful, it just might not look exactly right.

      Delete
  6. Maybe I'll give them another go....I hate their being perpetually wet.

    ReplyDelete
  7. All i use in my kitchen are knitted dishcloths. As I have been going to a number of different doctors the last 2 years I keep my dishcloth knitting in a small tote bag that I can grab on the way out the door. People in waiting rooms will ask what I am making I am sure expecting to hear some wonderful thing and will look at me a bit let down when I respond a dishcloth. I will go on to tell them the virtues of knitted ones. I have 3 patterns in my head that are all garter stitch but are different riffs on it. I cycle through the 3 patterns. The thing about doing washcloths for a take-along handwork is you never have to figure out where you are in the pattern. Thank you for your post today.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I agree, homemade knitted dishcloths are the best. I love lacy cloths because they dry out quicker, but I hadn't thought to just use larger needles so I'll try that soon. Thank you for the tip!
    We're still loving the Bear Cam. We keep it playing on the desktop all the time now when we're resting. Love it. Thanks again for mentioning it in your posts.
    Toni, in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nice, Rhonda! I love your cloths. I too knit dishcloths and my daughter in law wants nothing more for birthdays than the knitted cloths. They certainly give you a feeling of doing something good for yourself and the environment.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I did not know that about microfiber. I know about the microbeads and other tiny bit of plastic being a problem, but never put that together with the microfiber somehow. Thank you for sharing that.

    I usually make washcloths with your waffle weave pattern--I give them as gifts, use them in our kitchen and bathroom (keeping them separate), use them as rags when they wear out, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Rhonda
    I have knitted 2 dishcloths, quite awhile ago now. I taught myself how to cast on and off watching a You Tube video that was linked in one of your posts and I was so proud of myself! My daughter then was inspired to try knitting and she was really good (she was only 8yrs old at the time). I really like the idea of a more open weave. Will have to get started on some new ones, it certainly is the weather for it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm really pleased you're still knitting, Belinda and it's wonderful that your daughter is knitting now too. It's such a lovely skill to pass on. Knitting becomes second nature if you keep at it. It's something to do with the repetition. When you keep going, it just clicks in.

      Delete
  12. This is timely Rhonda as I have just started knitting some more dishcloths which was originally inspired by you. I think I will knit a few quick ones in garter stitch so I have them and then progress to the waffle or other patterns which take me longer. It has cooled down here in the North again so I feel like knitting. Thank you for a relevant post. Warmest wishes, Pauline

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've also 'evolved' to using larger needles than necessary as it makes the cloth easier to wring out after use and a rinse, not so demanding on my hands. Friends absolutely love being given a few and they really do last for years. Happy knitting! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  14. How I would love to knit some dishcloths but I have been told that they will never be welcome in the house! Oh well I have much to finish.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Good point about drying more quickly. I like how they are more flexible, too. I don't want any more microfiber cloths! I never liked them anyway. They snag on my dry hands.
    Be blessed,
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Rhonda,

    I haven't gotten around to knitting dishcloths yet but will have a go not. Just a question about the yarn. I popped over to have a look and they recommend hand washing. Do you hand wash your dishcloths or machine wash?

    Sharyn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HI Sharyn, I machine wash the dishcloths. I make them from the small balls of leftover cotton I get from Ecoyarns. I've knitted a few shawls using the same cotton, which I always handwash.

      Delete
  17. Great to get an update on your dishcloths. I've been in a bit of a waffle weave rut for a few years now so I will try something new.

    A lovely neighbour came for tea a while ago and I was so pleasantly surprised that she'd brought me some homemade chutney and a home-knitted dish cloth. She'd knitted the dish cloth in plain knit on the diagonal in a variegated cotton - it looked great!


    Madeleine.x

    ReplyDelete
  18. I knit my own dishcloths too. I always buy an lovely cotton yarn and just recently decided to make a few a bit bigger and use them as face cloths which has been working wonderfully. I put a border on the face cloths plus they are bigger so I can easily tell the two apart. Once they start to fall apart or become too nasty looking I use them as rags to wash the floor or whatever. They last forever and I'm always sad that they last so long because I love knitting them. I already have a huge stash of them to give away.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Microfibre cloths.....I never knew that about them. Gosh.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh dear, now I have to learn how to knit :( We use the microfibre dishclothes but reading the article.. brrr..

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have been using knitted dishcloths my entire married life, 38.5 years now. My mother in law knitted the dishcloths for us using her mother's pattern. When my mother in law stopped knitting she handed me the pattern and I have been knitting them since for my family as well as extended family.
    Knitted dishcloths do get mild dewy smelly, ugh! I'm going to try your idea of soaking them prior to a wash. I do hang all my clothes outside to dry during the summer and fall. Too cold and snowy here during winter.
    Also will knit with larger needles;-}
    Thanks Rhonda great useful post , as always.
    Eileen

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Rhonda, I like reusing and recycling and wonder if it is more ecologically sound to knit dishcloths from new cotton yarn, or if it is better to cut up old towels and cotton fabrics and use them?

    When cutting up rags you aren't making anything new, but you are saving something old from becoming landfill.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Colleen. I'd guess that most people who read this blog like recycling and do it every day, myself included. I knit dishcloths using the cotton leftover from jumpers, shawls etc which would otherwise sit unused in a drawer. If you read back through my blog, you'd know that one of my ongoing tasks is cutting up old cotton and linen to use as rags. I don't think one way of doing things is better than an other. I'm grateful that most of us are aware and do something because of that awareness. It might not be what I'm doing but as long as we all do whatever we can, everyday, I think that is enough.

      Delete
  23. Rhonda, thanks for all you do for all of us. A nice addition to your knitted dishcloths is on Deb's blog "Homespun living," It uses an onion bag(net) to fold and make a scrubbing pad with a crocheted edge to match your dishcloth. Also , have you noticed a change in your electric bill since you started using the dishwasher again? Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll have to check the bill, Dollie. I know it's low but haven't checked what happened after we bought the dishwasher.

      Delete
  24. May try knitting them on larger needles, have always preferred a tighter knit.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Knitted dishcloths as a child for my nan and now I knit them for myself. My nan always boiled her dishcloths in an old saucepan for 10 minutes to sterilize( no washing machine ) and I do the same.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I am crocheting a dishcloth now. I may try the knitting one, and compare the two. I'm a beginner at both crafts. Such fun.
    Linda in Texas

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi Rhonda I too stopped using microfiber cleaning cloths about two years ago also for the same reason.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Love my dishcloths, I knitted seven and just rotate them on a daily basis. Going to knit alot more as part of my Christmas presents to people. Love your blog, have all your books and although still working I spend my weekends living the simple life and love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great work, Sharon. Keep on keeping on. xx

      Delete
  29. My towel drawer is full of hand knitted dish cloths -- not a store bought one in sight! We tried microfiber one year; my boys loved using it but I was still using my hand knit cloths. Then I read about micro plastics in the ocean and got rid of the microfiber cloths and the boys adjusted just fine. I usually switch between a waffle weave pattern and the classic "Grandma's Dish Cloth" pattern, but I think I will knit up some simple open weave garter squares to add into the mix.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thanks for the idea. I am learning to knit and will try these as soon as I get the cotton from ecoyarn (great to have that discount). I know what my sisters are getting for Xmas and it is an easy project to start practicing and build my confidence.

    ReplyDelete
  31. ooo i might try this version for my sister, then she might just use them! she thinks all the cloths i've sent down to her are much too pretty to be used for the dishes!
    great post Rhonda (as was the one before too) look forward to see how your driveway garden goes as well.
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

    ReplyDelete
  32. I've got a drawerful of knit cloths like Sunshine Alternative Mama and I love them. I used to make cloths on larger needles (and also larger cloths). I switched to about 5 to 6" square cloths on smaller needles and I like them because they don't stretch out as much when wet. Now I'll try the same size cloths on larger needles and give them a go. I've got friends who love that I'll knit cloths for them. Thanks, too, for the info on microfiber cloths. I used mine only for cleaning the bathrooms, but now I'll make sure they are retired from service. Thanks for keeping us informed.

    Mary (Maryland, USA)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Wish I could knit ,is it hard I did some back when I was a teenager, but alas I am now 50...and yeah , love you Ronda have been following you know for a few year have all your books can make the washing liquid use all you ideas, but the craft thing well I think I have left my run a bit late :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. I am now addicted to knitting dishcloths and love using bright cotton yarn to cheer up the kitchen . Thank you for your inspiring ideas .

    ReplyDelete
  35. I've just scored 3 balls of Debbie Bliss eco organic cotton in a lovely shade of pale sage for £1 at a local charity shop! 😀 Inspired by this blog I am five rows into a new knitted dishcloth! I'm using your idea of larger needles and its knitting up fast. We are having a stressful time right now, family illness, housemove and this is the perfect antidote. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy knitting, Catz. I hope your other stressors float away. xx

      Delete
  36. What a clever idea to use larger needles for an open weave! I'm not a knitter but a crocheter. I think I'll try a larger hook for my dishcloths. There is nothing like the feel of a cotton cloth while doing dishes.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I haven't knitted dishcloths in a few years. You've given me inspiration to knock one out. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Mary from Pittsburgh, paJuly 15, 2017 12:51 pm

    I am just starting to learn how to knit. So I am excited to also learn how to make a dishcloth that I can use and make for my sisters also for gifts. You have made knitting sound easy so I will be working to make my first one this weekend. Thank you Rhonda your writing makes me feel like I can accomplish all I have tried. I hope you and hanno and Gracie have a pleasant weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm pleased you're going to try to knit these, Mary. You'll make mistakes, expect them and learn from them. After you've done 4 or 5, you'll have more confidence and I hope will continue knitting them for yourself and your sisters for many years.

      Delete
  39. I love this post! I grew up with hand-knitted dishcloths, and have always used them. My mother eventually grew tired of making them for me - so I learned to knit and now make my own. I, too, think it's best to make them with larger needles so they can dry out between uses.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I love knitting and need to make more dishcloths, thank you for the tip on using larger needles. I'm going to try that when my cotton arrives from ecoyarns.
    I will make some for Christmas gifts too!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thank you Rhonda thank you for making me aware of this microfibre problem! My cupboard is full of microfibre cloths...I use them in different colors to clean the toilet, the shower, the kitchen. I will throw them away. Can I use these knitted dishcloths for general cleaning or do you use them only for the kitchen? I assume rags of old sheets won't absorb as much water to clean for instance the shower...
    Groetjes from Holland

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lia, the knitted cloths can be used all over the house. I use mine in the kitchen and as face cloths in the bathroom. I use terry cotton rags in the bathrooms and old flannel rags for general dusting and cleaning now.

      Before I started using the ends on my leftover balls of cotton, I had colour-coded sets just like your microfibre cloths.

      Delete
  42. When I look at your open weave knitting, I keep thinking about medieval chain-mail. Knitting like that in a metallic yarn would bear a striking illusion for a costume :)

    ReplyDelete
  43. These are exactly as I remember my Grandma knitting (I'm 61). Lately I've taken to crocheting double crochet rows (called treble in British terms) to make the weave more open. Not only do they dry faster but I think the rougher texture makes them clean better. I love being able to wash and re-use these really efficient things rather than buy (even really cheap) sponges that go to landfill relatively quickly. Very satisfying!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hello Rhonda, I am fairly new to your blog and really love it. When you write its as if I'm a friend chatting with you over a cuppa. You describe your wonderfully simple and happy life so well, and you are someone I'd like to emulate.
    I came to your blog looking for patterns for cotton dishcloths. I have knitted 4 now from some cotton I had in my stash and a ball from Spotlight. I haven't been able to source any more pure cotton from Spotty for knitting and saw that you have used some in yuour dishcloths. Was this a recent purchase Rhonda? I live near Taree store. Could you recommend anywhere else to source the knitting cotton that is not too expensive? I am going to make mine on a larger needle next time as you have suggested. Thankyou Rhonda for your fantastic blog and inspiring us newbies. All the best, Lorraine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome to the blog, Lorraine. I only recommend what I use which is https://ecoyarns.com.au/collections/cotton-yarn I've made garments using this cotton and I use the end bits for my dishcloths. It gives a very soft, absorbent and durable cloth. When you shop online you must add postage so maybe you're better off looking for a knitting shop in Taree. Good luck.

      Delete
  45. I was given one a few years back that a friend made inspired by your pattern/idea. Just ordered some Eco yarn knitting hemp to make a few to use again. I like the idea of the open weave and how it will dry quickly. I just finished making my fifth batch of homemade laundry liquid. I love it - it's now time to move onto making some other choices to simplify our lives. Homemade dish cloths seem like the next logical step. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hi Rhonda, thanks for the info about microfibres - I didn't realise how damaging it was. I'd only fairly recently changed my tea towels over to Microfibre ones as I found others didn't absorb well. What would you recommend that is absorbent?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Helen. I like my terry tea towels because they're very absorbent. Many of the cotton tea towels seem to repel water until you wash them 10 times or soak in bicarb. I've used new terry nappies in the past and it's economical to buy them in a pack of 12. They have them at Big W $25 for 12. https://www.bigw.com.au/product/dickies-12-pack-of-luxury-cotton-towelling-nappies/p/WCC100000000005228/

      Delete
  47. Thanks so much. I agree about the cotton ones. I got a heap of linen ones from my mother in law but was very disappointed that they weren't what I remembered from my childhood (as in their absorbency - maybe as a child I didn't care if things weren't dried properly!) I've decided to make a tablecloth from them 😊

    ReplyDelete

DEAR READERS, PLEASE NOTE:
Comments keep blogs going. Without them it feels like no one is reading. That is true of my blog and every other blog available for public viewing.

I know that children read my blog so I always check my links and information to make sure they're family-friendly. I don't publish comments containing any kind of link now because I don't have time to check the links before publishing comments.

All comments in English, please.

Back to Top