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Quick Tip: Color-Coded Rags

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Last week I shared my favorite tips for sanitizing kitchen sponges, and several of you commented that you avoid sponges altogether and just use rags. While I happen to love my kitchen sponges and feel okay about using them since we change them out at least once a day — more often if we’re dealing with meat, etc. — I also use a lot of rags.

In fact, the only time we’ve bought paper towels in the last two years is when my mom came to stay with us after our youngest was born. We don’t mind using rags instead of paper towels, but I didn’t think it was very fair to force her to use them when she was already sacrificing time and sleep to help us with our other kids!

Storing Rags

As you can imagine, we go through a lot of rags, which leads me to today’s quick tip: color-coding and organizing rags.

To sort our rags, we use a plastic drawer organizer with three drawers. In it, we keep:

:: rags for cleaning hands and faces after meals
:: towels for drying dishes
:: sponges
:: old rags for cleaning
:: no-pill towels for food

On top of the drawers, we keep larger towels for spills and other needs.

To make the process of sorting towels simpler, we buy a new pack of hand/face rags every six months or so for $3 or $4. We go for bright-colored rags, and as they’re used and bleached over the months, they fade to a dull color. When we’re ready to replace them, we move them down to the bottom drawer to be used as cleaning rags and get a new pack of rags in different colors to use for wiping up the girls.

Do you use cloth rags in place of sponges or paper towels? How do you sort, store and organize them?

Mandi Ehman at Organizing Your Way

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About the Author

Mandi Ehman

Hi. My name is Mandi and I’m an organizing junkie. I’m also a wife, and Momma to four little girls (5.5, 4, 2.5 and a baby!). I've worked at home since our oldest was a baby, and like a lot of other moms, my life is a constant balancing act of caring for my family and my home, meeting my obligations and finding time for hobbies in there somewhere. Oh, yeah, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m somewhat of a kitchen dunce and I only like to pretend that I’m crafty. Read more here!

9 Responses to “ Quick Tip: Color-Coded Rags ”

  1. My dh wears an undershirt EVERY day, so when those get worn out, I dye them purple and they are just multipurpose, like windows and my smooth cooktop. I have rags that are scratchy on one side and I use those for cleaning the sinks, tub, etc. with cleanser. I have rags that are small bar mop type that I just use for general wipe ups and the floors. I have RED washcloths for anything involving blood. (Years ago, when the children were small, I read that when you are cleaning them up, if they don’t “see” the blood, they are less likely to freak out and lo and behold it works and it doesn’t stain something else.) We also have old towels and older versions of all of the above in the garage for yucky stuff. My mil just got me a new rag for cleaning windows that you just put water on and wring out and it doesn’t streak. You don’t wash it regularly, but if you do, no fabric softener. I have not gotten in the habit of using it yet, but seems cool. I go through a LOT of rags in a day.


  2. Brilliant idea on the bleach and fading- don’t know why I didn’t think of that! I keep a pile of rags under every sink along with a bottle of vinegar and water. This way I can spot clean bathrooms and other areas quickly, leaving less work when I get around to actually cleaning the bathrooms!
    Christy´s last blog ..365- June 22 My ComLuv Profile


  3. Aahh, yes…coloring coding…my favorite way to keep organized.
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  4. This makes so much sense! I’m so tired of buying paper towels and napkins. I just may be converted.
    Janna @ The Adventure of Motherhood´s last blog ..She Enjoys Being a Girl My ComLuv Profile


  5. We have a similar system. After we stopped cloth diapering, I sold all of our old dipes but kept the cloth wipes for wiping off DD when she gets into messes. All of her rags get stored in a separate drawer. Our cleaning/dish rags are all stored in a labeled drawer.

    My parents keep harping on me for not having paper towels but I HATE the expense. Sometimes they buy us paper towels for when they come over.
    Michelle´s last blog ..Activity – Bottle Pasta My ComLuv Profile


  6. I would love to totally get rid of paper towels, but my husband refuses. He even uses several paper towels to dry his hands when there are perfectly clean dish towels in a basket right next to the sink!

    Any suggestions for solving this problem?


    Mandi Ehman Reply:

    Patience? Keeping a roll just for him?

    I don’t know, really…we had the exact same issue, but somehow my husband has adapted over time, LOL!


  7. Wow.. extensive system. o.o I have a bin that all rags live in. I write “RAG” on them in marker so they won’t get folded and put away with the good stuff – and also because I use old socks and don’t want them to get mismatched.

    A friend of mine sewed a big batch of paper towel replacement cloths. I’d love the same, but getting my beloved on that bandwagon is lower on the priority list right now.
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  8. We also use rags instead of paper towels. It is funny you mention your exception. I have the same one. My mom loves to clean and goes through about one to two rolls of paper towels a day. She went through more during the five days that she was here than we go through in a year. :) I too felt that I needed to have them on hand for her since she was helping us out with my kids while I was having baby number three. I like the three drawer organizer and the cycle you through with your rags. Mine are about done and I think it is time to purchase more. I wonder if the drawers will fit in my pantry. Thanks for the great post.


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