Thursday, February 13, 2014


Part of my homesteading adventure is to explore ways of being frugal. It's no longer a game since the homestead will soon be our means of livelihood. So I've been deciding where I'm willing to spend money and where I am not. One of the conclusions -- paper towels, napkins, wipes are out. I've gone back to using washable rags. 
In order to make the transition back to rags, I found out that I had to have them handy. So I keep a supply beside the kitchen sink in box. In the bathroom, the rag box is a small trash pail under the sink. We found that an old bucket works well out in the barn and tool sheds. 

Where do I get rags? Well surely I don't buy them. Yes, I've know people who do, but that's hardy frugal, isn't it? So discarded clothing is my main source. My own clothes go through a progression, starting out as good clothes, slipping down to going to town clothes, then work clothes, and eventually rags. And sometimes the local thrift store discards a bag of clothes rejects, and they become my rags too. 

Ever think about grades of rags? Some are better scrub rags, such as worn out bath towels. Old t-shirts make great general purpose rags. Some clothes don't make quality rags, so their rags go out in the barn and work sheds to be used as "disposable" rags for paint, oil, grease, and other messy stuff. They're also good for cleaning up dog barf, cat hairballs, that sort of thing. No need to wash those disposable rags. They go right to the trash. It's a shame that clothing isn't all made out of natural fiber anymore, because those discarded rags could be going into the garden. But alas, the synthetic components don't rot down. 

We've successfully made the transition to rags. Hubby no longer looks around for a roll of paper towels, though I do catch him grabbing the toilet paper to clean up a hairball. But the most difficult thing was to train him to throw a used rag into the laundry instead of the trash. Ah, he was trainable! Hurrah! So rags it is, and rags it shall be for my future. 


  1. I guess I'm way ahead on this part - I have always stashed a couple of bales of "rags" since my days of making serious money doing car detailing during high school. I still have a certain enjoyment in keeping the cars looking good, despite their march toward antique status. The crummiest rags get the terminal task of grease and oil clean-up, fire-starting of brush burns (how to get thorny branches and vines to break down for good), paint wipe-ups, and metal polishing on the cars and my prized garden tools and da kine. That black stuff might wash out, but I just toss them, job all pau.
    My only dilemma is those weird microfiber cloth things. I like how they seem to pick up dust when dry, and they take a hard scrubbing on floor areas and road grime along the rocker panels, wheel wells, and such. I soak them in a pail of sudsy water before running through a heavy duty wash cycle. NEVAH use any "softener", either - ruins their absorption qualities.

  2. We haven't used paper towels or napkins in a long time...(qualifier: I do keep a roll of paper towels to use - if needed - when I do a cooking demo, but even then, I carry & use, cloth kitchen towels and always carry a wet kitchen rag inside a ziplock to wipe and clean my surfaces and also carry a small spray bottle with a mix of water and a tablespoon of Clorox for disinfecting surfaces and cutting boards, etc) - I have a large collection of pretty cloth napkins, most of them made by me, which we use at meals...and like you, I do keep a large collection of rags for cleaning purposes. Old, stained or torn kitchen towels get relegated to the rags bag to continue using as needed until they give up the ghost...