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Wednesday, August 2, 2023

From Rags to Riches?

That old saying could possibly have an alternate meaning for us frugal folks. Perhaps by using too-far-gone clothing as cleaning rags, instead of purchasing cleaning cloths or using paper products for cleaning, our bank accounts may increase by a few dollars per month.

This may seem an odd post, but I think some of you can relate. Today's pre-lunch quick task was to sort out the rag shelf. Our cleaning rags occupy a narrow shelf in our laundry/cleaning supply cabinet. As you may have guessed, the majority of our rags are well-used clothing and household items that are way past their prime. As family members retire their old clothing items to the rag shelf, the shelf becomes more stuffed and jumbled. A good sorting is needed from time to time. 

What I found today.

Some of our rags were once t-shirts.

Some rags were once cotton leggings or pajama pants.

Some were cotton socks.

And some were dish or hand towels/cloths.

Part of today's job was to turn the clothing items into more user-friendly rags.

I cut the t-shirts in half.

I cut the waistband off the leggings and pj pants (to use in a future project), then cut the remainder into two pieces.

And I slit the bottom of socks to make a larger, single layer rag.

Perhaps this seems like busy work. For our family, I find we're all more likely to grab a rag for cleaning if the rag is less wieldy or awkward to use. It also makes much more sense to use half a t-shirt as a rag or half a pair of leggings, if that is all the cleaning surface required for the job. I wind up doing less rag-laundry in the long run this way.

We have another category of rags in our house -- single-use ones. These are old clothing items made of synthetic material that don't absorb liquid very well. They are perfect for really greasy or oily cleanup, like the time I spilled about a cup of cooking oil on the kitchen floor, or when I was cleaning up the paintbrushes after using wood stain on our bistro table. Sometimes getting the grease or oil out of a a used rag is more work than the rag is worth. Mostly these rags are on the small side, like a single, hole-riddled sock (or other unmentionable). I found enough of these single-use rags to fill a small bucket today. Once used, we'll feel comfortable throwing them away. 

My rag shelf is now orderly and ready for the next big cleaning day, which is later this week. Oh goody :-(


  1. I organize my rags much like you do including cutting them up into usable sizes. They also occupy a space on a shelf in my laundry room. Yes, I can definitely relate to this post. :)

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      As the saying goes, "great minds think alike".
      Have a great day, Live and Learn!

  2. Yup, LOVE the old clothing/old sheet rags. My husband has a big barrel down in the workshop with ones I make for him, as you and I have discussed. Great for car repairs and cleaning greasy hands, as well as the uses you mentioned. My recent linen closet clean-out has yielded some more misfit, worn-out sheets. Since I like flannel year-round, and our sons used flannel and knit, all of the worn ones make great rags. The flannel are the best (from my point of view), because I can snip and tear them into rag sizes. It takes longer to actually cut the knit ones. For the kind of things we use them for, I like something 8-10 inches. It takes a few minutes to cut them, as you said; but I usually do it in the evening when DH is watching TV. It's a companionable chore that way. :) Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      Worn sheets are especially good, not only for the cleaning rags I can get, but also I find so many uses for the larger stretches of good fabric in a sheet. I've made summer pj pants, towels for wrapping wet hair after shampooing, and pillow cases from the good sections of both percale and flannel sheets.
      It sounds like your latest linen closet cleaning was a profitable endeavor.


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