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How to clean kitchen towels at home?


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#1 Big Joe the Pro

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 07:00 AM

Despite my best efforts, which admittedly are nothing fancy, my kitchen towels are getting a little stiff and smelly from accumulated oil. It doesn't bother me so much, I mean; I wash the things, but the better half is on my case about it.

Is there something better than Tide? The kitchens I worked at all sent their towels out to be washed so besides lye, my mind is drawing a blank as to how to deal with this problem.

I guess I could go to the hotel supply store here in Beijing and get a five gallon container of some really awesome detergent/paint thinner but I'd like to avoid yet another container that my fifteen month-old could guzzle.

What's your solution? Thanks!
Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

#2 blue_dolphin

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 07:11 AM

For kitchen towels I use normal detergent, bleach and the hottest possible water - the "sanitary" cycle on my current washer and they seem to do OK.

I try to minimize the use of paper towels but will use them to wipe up really greasy spills, so maybe my towels don't get as oily as some,

#3 helenjp

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 07:39 AM

If you wash in cold water and you REALLY want to have cleaner towels, you could try a gentle boil-up in a big pan.

How often do you change your kitchen towels?

#4 rotuts

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 08:16 AM

hottest water, bleach, OxyClean. double rinse. those that have stains still on them are used as mops

Ive discovered at Home Depo Clean-Rite Terry Towel 24 14" X 17" about 8 bucks. in the paint/cleaning section. they are meant i think to be disposable but i wash and reuse them

once they fray too much they are used on the floor on one of those "mops" that take the dispossable cloths ? Swiffer

#5 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 08:38 AM

I have a cold-water flat. So, subsequently, I boil my kitchen towels in a big pot along with lye soap, then rinse before I toss them in the washer with bleach and regular detergent. When they're really crusty (ie if Dad's been cooking), I'll pull them out of the boiling pot and scrub them on my washstand with a stiff brush and blue soap (which is a better grease-cutter than yellow or white) until they're no longer icky, then rinse gently and into the washer with detergent and cold water.

I change my towels about once a week, or more frequently if they're getting grotty.
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#6 robirdstx

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 09:01 AM

hottest water, bleach, OxyClean. double rinse. those that have stains still on them are used as mops


Ditto on the oxyclean and hot water. A friend recently turned me onto the oxyclean and a bunch of kitchen towels that were destined for the garage went back into the kitchen rotation.

#7 Lisa Shock

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 09:52 AM

I use OxyClean alone in a hot wash at first. I let the washer fill and begin to agitate, then turn it off for a half hour, add Tide Free and let the machine finish. I use cheap terry towels that I got in bulk a couple years back at Ace Hardware in the paint section. (ok, since my kitchen is decorated with a Halloween theme, there are cool spiderweb towels on display, but they are rarely used)

#8 Norm Matthews

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 11:20 AM

I also use hot water and plenty of bleach. I also have separate kitchen towels for drying hands, dish cloths for cleaning dishes and messes and dish towels for drying clean utensils, dinnerware and cookware. I try to relegate dish cloths to messy things and relegate the ones that don't come spotless to under the sink for future possible staining chores. When they get really bad, the go to the garage, then the trash. They aren't expensive so I have no problem replacing them when they are beyond help.

#9 Catew

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 02:13 PM

I put the towels in the machine for a hot water wash using liquid dish detergent as the cleaning agent. After the tub fills, I leave them to soak for about an hour. Sometimes I add some Oxyclean. Then I dump "some" white/distilled vinegar in with the rinse water. This seems to get them very clean and leaves them super absorbent. It's the soak that really seems to do the trick.

#10 Big Joe the Pro

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 03:37 PM

Ok, thanks for the replies.

I always have two different types of towels hanging next to the sink and I swap them for new ones on a daily basis per advice from Mark Bittman.

One is an Ikea tea towel for drying hands and pots, it doesn't get oily or really even dirty at all. The problem is the other. They're made of that 'super absorbent' fabric and are in several colors (blue mostly). They're not so expensive (but not really cheap either) and they last a long time (several years). They are retired to the rag pile when they develop holes or get frayed. I use paper towels sparingly for really oily messes.

I wash them in the washing machine in cold water with Tide when I get a full load.

I'd like to use hot water and bleach but I'm guessing that that would stain the color? Unfortunately I've not seen a pure white kitchen towel for sale here in the size and thickness that I like (similar to a shower wash cloth).

Ok, stupid question time but please understand I've been abroad a lonnnng time; OxyClean is a brand of detergent, correct? What are it's characteristics (perhaps I could find something similar here)? Now that I'm typing this I seem to recall 'color-safe' bleach, is there such a thing and is that what you use?

Edited by Big Joe the Pro, 26 June 2011 - 04:33 PM.

Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

#11 dcarch

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 04:06 PM

It's nice to always have plenty of dry clean towels in the kitchen.

I got from HD (Costco also has) 100 shop cotton towels. They are about 12" x 12" and very long lasting and absorbent. They come in two colors.

I have them folded in a nice pile in a cabinet. One color for clean use and one for dirty general use.

When the towels get a little soiled, I just rinse them with a little soap in the sink and microwave dry them for about two minutes. The heat basically sanitizes them.

When they get really soiled, they go into the clothes washer.

I seldom need paper towels.

dcarch

#12 Catew

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 07:12 PM

My understanding is that Oxyclean is an oxygen bleach. It gets things whiter and is supposed to be color-safe for most things. I don't think it is a sanitizer like chlorine bleach, however. I also retire towels to the wash after a day's use. During that day, they progress from hand-dryers to counter-wipers as they get damp. If anything gets food on it, I tend to put it into the wash right away so that I won't spread it about.

Those are the kitchen towels. My microfiber towels are for house cleaning only, so they don't get tossed in with the food towels. And if I need to use something that won't wash out of those, like polish, I use a rag instead (these are generally old people towels or clothing).

I've recently started to use a type of microfiber covered sponge that's machine washable, and those get changed out weekly and washed with the food towels.

#13 Kent Wang

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 04:37 AM

Oxyclean is pretty magical stuff. I'm not sure if there's any other brand that's similar (or one that's available in China).

I went on a quest to buy Oxyclean in Shanghai and only once found it at CityShop, which then stopped carrying it. I read that Metro has it. I ended up bringing some over from America in my luggage.

#14 Big Joe the Pro

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 06:15 AM

I read that Metro has it.


Metro, awesome, thanks Kent. I like that store a lot and go there a couple times a month (and would go a lot more often if it were closer).
Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

#15 Kouign Aman

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 02:52 PM

... The problem is the other. They're made of that 'super absorbent' fabric and are in several colors (blue mostly). They're not so expensive (but not really cheap either) and they last a long time (several years). They are retired to the rag pile when they develop holes or get frayed. I use paper towels sparingly for really oily messes.

I wash them in the washing machine in cold water with Tide when I get a full load....


Before going nuts looking for new cleaners etc, try hot water washing.
That might well solve the problem all on its own.
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#16 Big Joe the Pro

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 03:34 PM

Ok, I was able to get some Oxyclean in the US (five lbs. of my allotment though, ouch!) and it works wonders. I only use a quarter scoop in some hot water to soak the towels for a few hours before washing them and it's made a huge difference. I won't describe the condition of the soaking water afterwards.

I haven't been able to find Oxyclean here in Beijing but I was able to find two similar sounding products at Jenny Lou's (a small chain store that carries stuff for people who cook something besides Chinese-style foods). Please see attached photos.

Has anyone used either of these products? They're not cheap as it's what, about 6.3 RMB to the dollar these days?

Thanks for your help.

Attached Images

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  • 01202012422.jpg

Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

#17 SylviaLovegren

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 03:55 PM

They both seem to be oxygen powered cleaners, which is all oxyclean is. Try one!

#18 Hscsusiq

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 05:38 PM

For super greasy fabric try boiling with a little TSP in the water. Rinse really well.

#19 Margaret Pilgrim

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 07:26 PM

Super stupid question? How do you get your towels greasy? I use only paper to blot up or wipe up grease. Greasy pans/pots get soaked in (dishwasher) detergent and scrubbed, then rinsed, leaving no greasy residue. What am I missing?

FWIW, I do use hotest water with All and Oxyclean in every load -> super white kitchen towels. I probably use 4 terry towels a day which I use for hand and counter wipe. Dishes, silver and cookware get linen or floursack dishtowel wipe.

Edited by Margaret Pilgrim, 21 January 2012 - 07:27 PM.

eGullet member #80.

#20 Big Joe the Pro

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 10:56 PM

Super stupid question? How do you get your towels greasy? I use only paper to blot up or wipe up grease. Greasy pans/pots get soaked in (dishwasher) detergent and scrubbed, then rinsed, leaving no greasy residue. What am I missing?

FWIW, I do use hotest water with All and Oxyclean in every load -> super white kitchen towels. I probably use 4 terry towels a day which I use for hand and counter wipe. Dishes, silver and cookware get linen or floursack dishtowel wipe.


Well, I do have paper towels but I guess I don't use as many as others. If you're cooking Chinese food twice-a-day there's a lot of oil that builds up on stuff.
It's a different language and culture here as well. Difficult and time-consuming to explain fully.
Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

#21 dblnickels

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 11:50 AM

Hello,
At my restaurant I started using a 1/4 cup ammonia (the price is right) with normal laundry detergent.(no bleach allowed!) and the
sticky, waxy buildup is gone. Not sure about long term health of my front load washer, though no problems so far.
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#22 Gingersnap

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 04:05 PM

Posters on the laundry forum on ThatHomeSite regularly point out that the active ingredient in OxiClean is sodium percarbonate. They often recommend purchasing pure sodium percarbonate as it is more cost-effective than buying OxiClean. The Chemistry Store is often suggested as a place to buy sodium percarbonate. Ecover Non-Chlorine Bleach powder is also said to be pure sodium percarbonate.

From the OxiClean web site, the ingredients in the type of OxiClean that I have are:
Sodium Carbonate (Detergent Additive)
Sodium Percarbonate (Bleaching Agent)
C12-15 Alcohol Ethoxylate (Surfactant-Cleaning Agent)
Sodium Metasilicate (Detergent Additive, Corrosion Inhibitor)
Acrylic Acid Homopolymer (Dispersing Agent)
Fragrance
Colorant

Once I use up the OxiClean that I have, I am going to order some sodium percarbonate to see how it works.