Open weave cotton dish cloths

13 July 2017
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:
(highly recommended as it very durable, naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal)