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The photo is my son and myself. Now days you can get a photo made to look old like this one. This photo was taken when this was the new look.

Harry S Truman was president when I was born and world war II had ended. I grew up in a time when lunch was put in a brown paper bag and a sandwich was wrapped with wax paper. There was no such thing as pantyhose, we wore stockings that attached to the rubbery clippy things that attached to the girdle. Convenience stores were not common and when we took a trip we packed a picnic basket because many places did not have fast food. Highways had places to pull over and stop, some with picnic tables. Read more ....

Answers for Julia

September 20, 2019

No, that is not a glass of wine on top of that stove. 

This post is to answer the cloth question from Julia.  We are trying to find a better way to stop having so many wash cloths, dish cloths and drying towels that we accumulate each day. As I said in the previous post I had to ask myself the same question as it seemed I had done better in the past because I cannot remember using a lot of cloths in a days time. 

We have some very good responses.


Hi Donna,

This is for Julia's email question. 

My kitchen is not as vintage as gDonna's, but what I normally use is one dish cloth a day. At the end of the day I will hang the dish cloth over the end of a large Rubbermaid tote that I use for dirty clothes so it will dry and I will use a fresh one the next day, I normally use 2 kitchen towels a day, these are terry and if they are wet, but not dirty after I wash the dishes I will hang them on the oven door handle. I have a cookie jar on my counter and I put kitchen rags there. I use the rags to clean messes up or drain berries or vegetables after washing. The rags are old stained dish towels or thin hand towels. I usually wash clothes 2 or 3 times a week and these go into most loads.

Take care — Cynthia


In answer to Julia.

I raised 5 children. We used cloth napkins every day. It was to last the entire day so we told them that they needed to keep them neat because they would not get a clean one until tomorrow. They were to use it to clean hands and faces before leaving the table. I believe this helped them learn to be neater in their habits at the table because they did not like a grimy napkin and tried to keep them clean by not making a mess of their face and hands. I made these napkins from 100% cotton fabrics so that they were soft and absorbent. 

Each family member had a napkin ring to keep the napkin between meals. These were washed with the towels twice a week. Just recently I looked on Amazon and found that the drying rack that my grandmothers had mounted to the cabinet over the sink is still available. We purchased one and have found it to be so useful for drying everything from wet towels to ziploc bags. 

We use a clean dish cloth and towel everyday to try to keep down food borne illness. My husband grew up in a family that reused washcloths and shared them and they all have horrible skin issues that they passed around and cannot get clear of so we use a clean washcloth every time. We have a small plastic basket on the laundry room floor that cleaning cloths go into and they get washed once a week. Wet ones are put over the side to dry. If we clean up food or spilled milk we rinse well before putting in the basket to avoid odors. 

We did use cloth diapers and they went into a plastic diaper pail with a well fitting lid, I kept water in the bucket that had Borax added to help soak them and keep the odors down. I poured the whole thing in the washer and ran a rinse before starting the wash process. We do not have a single wash day. I found early in our 41 years of marriage that it did not work for me. So M is clothes, T is towels, W is bedding TR is clothes and F is towels and rags. If I need to wash things like rugs or curtains they are on ST. This may be more laundry that some want to deal with but it works for us.



Dear Grandma Donna,

In the kitchen, I have crocheted around white cotton terrycloth dishcloths. The manufacturer serged all the edges, so they are not bulky and dry easily between dishwashing. In between dish washing, I drape the dishcloth over the faucet and let it hang dry. Each Monday (Laundry Blessing Day) I change out my dishcloth and dishtowel.

I only use these white dishcloths to wash dishes. If it gets stained, I do as my Filipino house girls taught me and soak my dish cloth in my dishpan with a capful of bleach overnight. They also taught me how to use very little water for dishwashing. Put some water in one of the dishes you'll be washing; soak your dishcloth. Then apply the dish detergent or soap to the cloth and suds it up. A little goes a long way like this. Wash several items, then rinse them all at once. Thrifty water usage, and water is a premium in the Philippines.

Our dishwasher does a horrible job, so it serves as a dish drainer for our hand washed dishes. I use a Rubbermaid-type dollar store clear plastic shoebox as a dishpan. This fits well in my sink and I don't need to use gallons upon gallons of water just to wash all our dishes.

I have two towels hanging on cabinet Command hooks at either side of my kitchen window. The hook to the left holds a white cotton dish-drying towel. Some of these towels are of the bar mop variety. Some I have made myself from thrifted white cotton bedsheets. (Once I made as many as eight kitchen towels from one very nice weight $4 cotton sheet!) A white towel is never used for hand drying, only dish drying. I had read that air drying our dishes is more sanitary than towel drying. Works for me! The towel can be spot treated if it gets stained and it always dries well on the hook. Like the dishcloth, it is changed each Monday.

To the right hangs a colorful cotton dishtowel. Probably every one of these was either a gift or bought new, never used, at thrift stores (still had department store tags or packaging on them). Colorful towels are for drying clean hands in the kitchen. I have crocheted coordinating colors on the hems of these towels for fun. If the towel has no towel loop with which to hang it from the hook, the crochet serves well for that purpose. I can turn the towel and hang it from the other end for a little change as well. If a guest comes into our kitchen, I simply state, “This white towel is for dish drying. This colorful towel is for drying clean hands.”

In the bath, our philosophy has always been very simple. Everyone dries on their own towel: hands and body. I get those skirt/pants hangers free from Macy's, who will give you as many of them as you like, and clip a towels to a hanger. After drying with the towel, it goes back on the hanger to dry. It is used all week and each Monday, Laundry Blessing Day, all the towels in the house are changed. My husband has (and our children too when they still lived here) his own cream bath towel like I do. On the towel label I wrote our first initial with a black marker. He never uses my towel and I never use his. We each own two—count them— two bath towels. The one that goes into the laundry is replaced by a fresh towel. Even the white cotton bath floor “mat” towel is also hung from a clip hanger to dry and washed weekly. We don't even take it off the hanger to use it. We just lay it still clipped to the hanger on the floor, then hang it back up again to dry out.

Our daughters are married and they and their husbands do all of this as well. In fact, we've been handling our bath towels like this for more than 25 years. The wear and tear on the towels is certainly reduced, too, and like you say, they sure don't make anything today as well as they used to!

*hugs* Kelley


At day's end, when dishes are done, use the dishpan with some warm water and a little bleach in it. Add in the day's used cloths and let soak a could use another pan for the day's diapers also....rinse and wring out tight and hang on shower rod or anywhere handy. They will be clean and fresh for morning! 



Hi Donna,

The lady mentions having ‘one wash day and I think that is part of the problem. Our lives really are not geared to one wash day anymore, especially if we work outside the home. My motto is little and often, so each morning I am either putting on a load of washing, or folding and ironing the load from the day before. In itself, this prevents wet things hanging around too long.

So, what I did with my kids was simply wash the cloth used for wiping hands and faces at the table each day and hang to dry. You can add a drop of lavender or eucalyptus to the water to freshen it. Bath wash cloths were done once a week with the towels, and homemade ‘wet wipes for changing nappies went into the nappy soak bucket, again with eucalyptus. Nappies were done daily.

I hang tea towels and dish cloths over the side of a bucket until a wash comes up that they can go into. As we don't eat meat I use the dish cloth for up to a week before washing, but sometimes give it a quick wash in the kitchen sink with soap.
Hope that helps,



Hi Grandma Donna, 

Here is my response to Julia's question. I do laundry every day. Every night I put the dishcloth, tea towel and hand towel out to be washed that are used in the kitchen. If the dish cloth got particularly dirty or stained by wiping up spills, then I put that in a small bucket or bowl with a little 'natural laundry soaker stain remover' (like Eco store brand in New Zealand)..Greyish white clothing will get the same treatment too. I am trying not to use 'traditional chlorine bleach' even though it was fantastic at killing germs on smelly summertime dish cloths. 

I think the trick with preventing the dish cloth from getting smelly is to get it soaked/washed/dry quickly. Just have a wee bucket of soaker/stain remover made up. In the summer months - half way through the day throw the dish cloth in it, get a fresh dishcloth out to use and place that one too in the soaker at the end of the day. In the morning wash the cloths. hang in the sun to dry. I buy cotton reusable dishcloths at the supermarket. They last and last a long time, or else I cut up an old towel and hem the edges with zig zag and use that. Hope these tips help ~ 

Linda (New Zealand)


Dear Donna,

In response to your friends email question, my grandma used to "scald" her dish cloths then hang to dry when she finished the dishes and reused the cloth for several days. She always had a kettle of hot water, because she had heated water for dishes. The boiling water made the cloths germ free. She did not have plastic dish pans or sponges that would melt. Just an enamel dish pan and flour sack fabric. It was literally a dish rag. I think the answer to so many face cloths is the same. Wash them out, pour boiling water over them, and reuse them for the day. You could keep hot water handy, once heated, by the sink in a metal thermos. 

Love, June


This is my second answer to your question.

Last night I was talking to my 80 year old Mom on the phone and she started taking about her grandmother. That grandmother had 8 children so a lot of dishes were washed after every meal. Mom said her grandmother washed the dish and tea towels in clean water right at the kitchen sink after every meal and then they were taken out to the clothesline. Mom said she never remembered ever going to her grandmother's house and seeing a dirty towel in her kitchen or not seeing towels on the clothesline.

I enjoyed this glimpse of the life of my great-grandmother and thought your readers would too.



This is Donna, we all can take away many helpful tips how to deal with our daily cloths and towels. If anyone has a household challenge and needs an answer this is a good way we can get some ideas to give us a different perspective on things. So if you have questions just send them to my email and we can all take part.   

Thank you Julia, Cynthia, Lana, Kelley, Katherine, Madeleine , Linda and June. 

Grandma Donna

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