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How To Keep Dishcloths From Smelling In 3 Easy Steps

How To Keep Dishcloths From Smelling In 3 Easy Steps

Have you ever wondered why your dishrags stink even though you always lay them to dry after use?

Well, that stinky-rotten smell you feel on your dishcloths is a sign of bacterial breeding, and you often use it in wiping the surfaces of your kitchen counters, sinks, and even wiping it on your hand; thus, that is the short-cut way to food contamination.

Hence, you really need to do something about it, and here is a simple tip on how to remove that nasty smell.

To keep dishcloths from smelling, you need to rinse them every after use with hot water to flush out dirt residue such as foods, which creates stinky smell quickly. Another helpful tip is to replace your rag in the morning and at night. Make sure not to use the same rug for more than 24 hours.

I know it is impossible to keep your dishcloths smelling fresh for an extended period of time; however, there are some ways you can actually do to avoid your dishcloths from smelling.

Hence, you can see below are some helpful tips, which you can try on your dishcloths to remove the lingering stinky smell.

Moreover, some materials you will need can also be found in your household; therefore, you do not need to spend much on buying new dishcloths every now and then.

Ways To Remove Lingering Smell On Your Dishcloths

To eliminate stinky dishrag odors, you must be resourceful and creative when it comes to cleaning them. It does not mean that when your dishcloth starts to smell awful, you need to replace it right away.

That is such a waste of money; hence, you can follow this #kitchenhacks101 to help you in getting rid off the smell on your dishcloths.

This process will usually take only 10 – 15 minutes, so say goodbye to stinky smells on your dishcloths.

Boiling Method

Materials you will need:

  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • Large pot
  • Water


  • Fill a large pot with water and then bring it to boil. Make sure not to full it since you will be placing your dishcloths to avoid overflowing of hot water.

Note: Be careful when the water is boiling as this can cause burns and scalding injuries

  • Once the water has boiled, add a cup of white vinegar. After a while, drench your dishrags on the water. Do not add any soap or detergent.
  • Set the stove in low heat for about 15 minutes to kill and eliminate molds, bacteria, and some mildew.
  • After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let the soaked dishcloths cool until it is bearable to touch.
  • Once the wet dishcloths are cooled, get the dishcloths on the pot and then wring them one at a time.
  • Hang your dishcloths outdoors to dry. Make sure they are completely dry since any dampness can promote the growth of bacteria.

Washing With Bleach And Detergent

Things you will need:

  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • ½ cup of bleach
  • 1 cup of laundry detergent


  1. Toss the stinky smelling dishcloths on your washing machine
  2. Place 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of laundry detergent. Fill the washer with hot water
  3. If white vinegar is not available in your household, you can use ½ cup of bleach. Make sure not to use both white vinegar and bleach, since when these two solutions combined, they produced toxic fumes, which can be strong when breathed in.
  4. Once you have done preparing the washer, you set the washer to the longest washing time. Other machines have a "Heavy Duty" settings indicated. Hence, you can check your washer's manual instruction
  5. Once the wash cycle ended, transfer the dishcloths immediately on the dryer. This is because if you let them sit in a warm machine while still wet, there is a possibility that odors can redevelop.
  6. Set the dryer on its highest setting for 45 to 60 minutes to knock off the smell.

No washing machine? No problem. Well, you can actually hand wash your dishcloths by following these steps below:

Hand Wash Dishrags

Things you will need:

  • Large tub
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup laundry detergent
  • Lemon essential oil


  • Place your stinky smelling dishcloths on a tub filled with hot water, a cup of white vinegar, a cup of laundry detergent, and a few drops of lemon essential at night.

Note: Lemon essential oil has a natural antibacterial property that can help in removing the smell on your dishcloths.

  • Soak the dishcloths overnight. In the morning, just wash the clothes just like the way you wash your clothes. Make sure to remove stains if you found any on the dishcloth.
  • Once you have washed the dishcloth, thoroughly rinse them to remove any soap residues. Make sure not to use fabric conditioner, as this can create a build-up that can keep the lingering smell longer.
  • Wring the dishcloths one at a time to remove excess water. Place them in a clean basin so that they are now ready to be hanged outdoors.
  • Hang the dishcloths in a clothesline directly under the sun since sunlight acts as a natural antibacterial that can kill off bacteria and other microorganisms. In addition to this, natural air-drying can help in giving a natural fresh smell without using a fabric conditioner.

Sterilize Your Dishcloths In The Microwave

Another technique to kill bacteria that causes musty smell on your dishcloths is by sterilizing it using your microwave oven. Some hygiene experts also recommend this technique as this can help in preventing food poisoning. Therefore, here are the steps on how to do it:

  1. Wash your dishcloths thoroughly and then wring it as hard as you can.
  2. Put the wet dishcloth in your microwave oven and then run it for 2 minutes
  3. After 2 minutes, remove the dishcloth using a tong or with an oven-gloves
  4. Wipe the steamy microwave oven with a clean towel to dry.

Note: Since this technique is somewhat risky, make sure when you try this technique, you will not exceed it to more than two minutes because there are some reported incidents of microwave warning after dishcloths start a fire.

On the other hand, here are some additional tips and advice you must remember when dealing with these stinky-smelling dishcloths.

  • If you find your dishcloths greasy, make sure you use the boiling method and do not forget to add white vinegar. Vinegar helps in removing oily stains on the cloth.
  • After each use, wash the dishcloths thoroughly and hang them to dry. This can help in prolonging their cleanliness.
  • Make sure not to leave dishcloths sitting or soaking in water for a longer period of time.
  • To keep them fresh, make sure you replace your dishcloth with a clean one each day. Make it to the point that you have enough supply of dishcloths stored in your kitchen cabinet so that they will come handy when you need to replace them right away.
  • Look for dishcloths that are made from thinner fabrics as these can be easily dried when washed and also can prevent the growth of molds.
  • Do not use fabric conditioner after washing your dishcloths as this can create a filmy coating that makes it less absorbable, and due to the strong fragrance vibe of fabric conditioner, it should never be used with foods. As an alternative, you can use vinegar instead, as this acts as a natural softener and does not give off a strong smell.

Reasons Why Dishcloth Stinks

You usually used dishcloths in wiping kitchen counters, cleaning dishes, and even drying your hands; therefore, it is obvious that it is exposed to different kinds of food substances such as grease that when trapped in dishcloth's fabric gives off an awful smell.

Hence, there are several reasons why your dishcloths have that deplorable odor and here are some of the reasons:

  • Forgetting to rinse the dishcloth after use

Since there are still food substances left on the dishcloths; therefore, leaving it just like that may create a build-up of bacteria and can cause stinky smell over time.

  • Leaving a dishcloth crumpled

Since the dishcloth is crumpled; therefore, the moisture trapped in the fabric will not get enough air making it dry with an awful smell. Hence, if you wish to dry your dishcloth, you can hang them outdoors so that the natural heat of the sun will also help in killing bacteria and other germs.

  • Washing dishcloth in a small-bodied washer

To thoroughly clean and wash your dishcloth, they must have enough space or room to move around as this can also contribute to the potential build-up of odor.

This is because when dishcloths are not washed entirely, the laundry detergent may also not rinse out completely; therefore, the dishcloth may not be cleaned at all.

  • Storing and folding wet dishcloths

As we all know that moisture promotes bacterial growth; therefore, storing damp dishcloths, especially in an airtight environment where there is a limited airflow, may also cause why your dishcloths stink.

If you can no longer take the smell of your nasty-stinky dishcloth even though you have done all the methods listed above, well, I think, NOW is the right time you should replace them with a new one.

As a rule of thumb, dishcloths should be replaced on a monthly basis. Dishcloths could be as bad as sponges since they do both share damp and warm environments in the kitchen that is ideal for the growth of several types of microorganisms.

Hence, here are some of the red flags that your dishcloths need to be replaced:

  1. You dishcloth has too many holes
  2. Their color turned into brownish that even though you launder it very well, it cannot be returned to its original color
  3. They lost their shape
  4. Your dishcloths are badly stained from food oils and grease

What To Look For In A Dishcloth

Dishcloths are not only used for drying dishes, but they are also used for handling foods. That is why when choosing dishcloths, you must keep these three things in mind, especially when you use them around with food.

  • Look for dishcloths that are made from natural fibers

Compared to dishcloths made with synthetic fibers, cotton and linen fibers are more breathable that can maintain a proper level of moisture and absorbs any excess and escaping moisture or steam.

  • Select dishcloth with a lint-free weave

Unlike Terry cloth that gives off much lint, cotton and linen cloths work best in the kitchen due to their strong flat fibers that can withstand multiple times of washing and drying; therefore, they are more expensive than other types of cloth fabrics.

  • Choose dishcloth that can match your décor

Some dishcloths come in a variety of styles, prints, and colors. Some dishcloths, when hanged somewhere visible, can add a vibrant vibe and style to your kitchen.

  • Consider the absorbent property of your dishcloth

You must know first where you will use your dishcloth, is it for wiping kitchen countertops or for drying dishes?

Hence, if you use them for drying dishes, it is recommended to look for a dishcloth with high absorbency capacity.

On the other hand, if you will use it for a quick swipe on your countertop, you could go for a dishcloth that is thinner and has a less absorbency capacity.

  • Choose the right size of dishcloth

Again, consider where you will use your dishcloth since they also vary in size where others are small that only works to clean small corners, while others can cover a large area; therefore, you should know what size you will need so that you will always have the right towel on your hand.

Remember: Do not use any scented laundry products when washing dishcloths.

Otherwise, your food will taste just like the smell of the scented fabric conditioner and laundry detergent you use in washing those dishcloths.

Hence, here are my picks of dishcloths for different categories that you can find on Amazon.

Recommended Dishcloths

Be mindful that the products listed below are based on my personal preference and based on the things to look for when choosing for a dishcloth.


These black and white dishcloths are made from 100 percent cotton of terry cloth that makes them durable, soft, and a good absorbent of moisture.

They are ideal for cleaning, wiping, scrubbing, and drying utensils, kitchen countertops, and even your hands. These cloths have this unique weaving pattern, which makes them more absorbable and can hold moisture while cleaning.

In addition to this, they are machine-washable that makes them easy to clean, and there is a minimal chance of shrinkage after washing and drying.


These Swedish dishcloths are made from 70 percent cellulose (from wood pulp, and this means that it is lint-free) and 30 percent cotton.

They are natural and eco-friendly that makes them a great alternative for paper towels and sponges. These dishcloths are soft, nonabrasive, and can absorb up to 15 times their natural weight.

What is so good about these dishcloths is their cute printed design made from water-based ink that can be displayed and make a good attraction to your kitchen.

Best for scrubbing dishes

For people who love to cook, this scrubbing dishcloth is the right one for you.

Scotch-Brite Dishcloth comes with a double-sided cloth that has a dual cleaning power: the one side consists of textured scrubbing dots that are used in nonstick pans, pots, and glasswares to remove grease and residues.

On the other side, is a soft and absorbable cloth used to dry utensils and even kitchen countertop. The good thing is that both sides of this dishcloth dry quickly.

Therefore, it helps prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause a stinky smell on your dishcloth. It is also machine-washable and is safe to dry on a household dryer.


Dishcloths made from microfiber are the best and recommended when it comes to cleaning since they are soft with small fibers that can absorb five to six times moisture compared to their weight.

They are commonly used in cleaning fragile items such as car exteriors and windows. When used in the kitchen, they work best, especially in cleaning glassware and countertop made from marble.

These dishcloths are machine-washable and are safe to dry in the dryer with a tumble low dry setting. Make sure not to use fabric conditioner as this can lose their super-absorbency intact capacity, which is a great feature of microfiber cloths.


These highly absorbable cloths made from 20 percent natural cotton and 80 percent biodegradable cellulose can hold up to 20 times moisture compared to their actual weight.

Swedish dishcloths are the best for your kitchen since they are soft, machine-washable, and durable that can last up to a maximum of 50 washes; therefore, the whole pack can be good for the whole year.

Some positive reviews for this product include that they are more practical to use for those who live in a small area since they can be easily stored, and they are a great alternative for paper towels.

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