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Cleaning Rags - ways to save money in 2012


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So here it is 2012 the year some of us decided to start saving money here and there.

OK, Let’s all talk "Cleaning Rags"!

Tell us how you made them: bought? Cut up rags? Sewed edges on them? Or whatever-

 

How do you wash them: in a pail? Toss in with the wash? Toss them out after using a few times?

 

Where do you store them: in a box? Under the sink in a pile? Home-made 'rag bag'? Or whatever?

 

Oh, and for all you members that always come in with:

I don't do that but here is what I think: Have a nice day!

:AmishMichael2:

 

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Good one Michael. I recently "found" in a skip a what we call in dutch molton. It's a thick layer of flannel, nearly half a centimeter, to be put under the sheet of the bed on the mattrass. It wicks away the moist and keeps very warm in winter.

I fished it out of the skip, washed it, cut it into towel size. And now they are to clean the kitchen and bathroom floor with. They get washed after use unless not so dirty. In that case rinsed with vinegar or bleach and hung outside to dry.

So we have around 20 free, gratis perfect cloths to wet-clean those spaces.

Or wash the car with or dry the dog or...

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I save almost every piece of clothing/old towel/etc. If clothes, (and they aren't good enough to pass on to others for wearing) I remove the buttons and put them in my button box. The Grandkids love my old button box and can spend hours stringing the buttons on shoestrings/cord/or thread to make necklaces and such. Or learning how to sew buttons on small pieces of salvaged material. I remove zippers and put them in the sewing box for replacing broken ones or on new clothing. Then I cut the clothing into usable pieces, trying to salvage the hems and seams where possible to prolong their life. Depending on the material, I make some into aprons to protect the clothing I'm wearing when cleaning. And besides, the 'rag' apron makes a good, always available, rag in itself. The rest are cut into various sized rags for cleaning.

 

Stained or frayed washcloths and towels are always reused either as rags or more rag aprons. All the rags are washed if not too bad after use or sent to the 'garage' to be used as grease rags if they don't come clean enough. From there they often get used to start garbage fires. (We live in the country and are allowed to burn our paper and etc waste)

 

The rags are stored in a cupboard in the laundry room and usually divided into two stacks, one with smaller rags and one with larger ones so I don't have to dig through them to find the right size for the job.

 

Old socks are used for various purposes. I use them for protecting glasswear and Christmas items that are packed away; for wearing on the hand to polish or clean with; or cut into strips crossways (for loops) or in spirals (for longer strips) for weaving, braided rugs, or other things.

 

T-shirts are a special products. The soft material makes great polishing rags but, specially cut, they also make great strips for weaving, crocheting, and etc. They also make great 'personal' rags, especially if pure cotton.

 

This is not prepping, this is just plain frugal living. Been doing it all my life, learned it at my mother's knee. It has saved us literally hundreds and hundreds of dollars over the years.

 

Speaking of, has anyone ever added up the cost of the paper towels they use in ,,,say a year's time? I'd be interested to hear what the cost is.

 

BTW, Did you know that rags used to be used as a means of 'trade' in the past. The tin peddler especially would trade new tinware for rags. Rags were reused in the manufacture of paper among other things. Our ancestors were super at wearing it out, using it up, and making 'do' without.

 

:bighug2:

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I've got a wash tub under the sink with old dish rags/towels and some microfiber cloths. I leave them whole unless they are large towels and then I cut them in to usable pieces. Unless they are really, really nasty or oily I wash them and reuse. Somewhere in storage I have an old Boy Scout Popcorn tin with Sunday socks (you know the holey ones) and mismatched socks for cleaning.

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My microfiber cleaning rags I actually had gotten lucky and won a gift certificate that I used to buy them. It gave me a "jump" towards just using rags. Now I also chop up clothing into rags. I just cut those, I don't bother sewing the edges on them.

 

Unless there is something super icky on them, I wash them with anything else that's going in the wash. I keep a batch in a pretty bin on top of the fridge for my kitchen ones that are the nicest looking ones. When they start to look too dingy, they make their way to the bathroom, where I have an old baby wipes tub that I keep them in. Then when they are about to die, I give them to my husband to use for outdoor projects.

 

I haven't purchased paper towels in several years. I do have a hidden roll for in case of (contagious) emergency though.

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I use old towels that are no longer absorbent enough to be in the bathroom. I cut them in half to be a better size. They get washed regularly, and if too soiled to clean up they go to the garden / garage rag pile, and still get used and washed, but for different uses.

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Lol @ :AmishMichaelstraw:

 

You didn't really think any of our tightfisted, frugal, make-do-and-mend bunch would answer differently did ye? :grinning-smiley-044:

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I do most of what Mother said, taught by both my Grandmother & Mother. With all the towels we find, rags are in an excess in our house. I keep them in the towel closet.

 

Dusting time is cut down by putting old socks on both my hands and having at it. :happy0203:

 

Love my button & zipper boxes, they come in handy. I remember putting a big button on a string and making it spin back and forth for hours. I have forgotten what Grandmother used to call it. lol

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I remember putting a big button on a string and making it spin back and forth for hours. I have forgotten what Grandmother used to call it. lol

 

They are called simply Button Spinners. Our kids and grand kids love them. We have made hundreds of them for the Museum to sell in their general store only with hand made buttons. (circles cut out of wood and two holes drilled in them) Kids and adults alike love them. We once had a whole bus of senior citizens come for a tour and almost everyone on the bus bought one. They said they used them for 'stress release'. I think it helped that I was setting in the 'town hall' building spinning four at once. One between my two hands, one between each foot and a hand, and one between my feet.

:twister3::bounce::o:D

It had taken me almost an hour to get all four working at once and it was the only time I was able to do that and I had help getting them going to begin with LOL...I sure was a lot more coordinated then, but I can still do two at a time now. Thanks for reminding me of them, Annarchy. :happy0203:

 

:bighug2:

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WOW!

So much great information!

See, this is what it is all about - just ask a question and you guys (sorry Gales) all come in and post some good stuff!

 

And I love the stories that go with the information as well.

So now, for all you out there here is a great way to 'start'

***Made me laugh as I too make the 'button toy' all the time.

:AmishMichael2:

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

The ways I am trying to save money this year is to find ways to use the fabric from our old clothes. I cut some sweatshirts/pants into rags and some thin ones into napkins. I made a small quilted pad from old t-shirts and bed sheet to put under my dish drainer to catch water. I also have bought thick cotton sweaters from Salvation Army and garage sales and use the yarn from it to crochet or knit dish towel, bathroom rugs and will make some tote bags.

 

 

One thing that I still need to work on is a different way of thinking about saving money. I need to think more on how I could make it with what I have on hand and not always think it has to be bought.

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One thing that I still need to work on is a different way of thinking about saving money. I need to think more on how I could make it with what I have on hand and not always think it has to be bought.

 

This is a VERY important key! Many, many people grow up thinking of everything as coming from some store... gotta have *new* or better or more expensive.

 

During the Great Depression, people survived by knowing what could be bartered, or saved for re-use, or re-purposed, or made from scratch. Neighbors helped neighbors... you had extra carrots, they had extra potatoes... you shared or bartered.

 

Some people have lost that knowledge. When the store has everything a couple of blocks away, why bother? Bother because it HELPS. Bother because, while it might take more time, it can save money. We teach our kids all about "recycling", yet easily toss things that could be re-purposed.

 

And yes, it takes an adjustment in THINKING. :thumbs:

 

You can get around 50 cents per pound recycling aluminum cans. It takes about 30 cans to make a pound. My DD and SIL throw their cans out. I pull out what I can and rinse them, crush them, and add them to ours. Once or twice a year, we take the cans to be recycled and get CASH. Though I now buy fewer cases of soda pop, I can get around $40 a year. Not much, but it helps.

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Over the years, I have wavered on the use of rags. I remember cutting up old bedsheets (once) and other things for use as rags. I stuffed them in a bag and hubby would use them for wiping greasy things down while working on a car or lawnmower. Eventually those ran out and he adopted an old raggedy towel which served the same purpose.

 

We've gone back and forth on the use of paper towels. At our most wasteful, we have used around one roll per day, but that would only be on weekend days since we weren't at home cooking or cleaning for very many hours during the week.

 

We still use paper towels and spend about $9 per month on them, even though there is always someone at home. We make better use of them than we used to, though. A paper towel that is used to dry hands is reused for hand drying, wiping down the counter or a small spill on the stove before it is thrown away. I would guess that most of our paper towels are used 3 times before being discarded.

 

The problem with rags in the kitchen for us is germs and cleanliness. In a restaurant, rags are generally kept in bleach water to keep from spreading the germs around. I can't have bleach around because the smell makes me extremely sick. Since developing chillblains on my hands, I find that they are far less tolerant of other chemicals and extremely hot or cold temps. Rubber gloves just add to the problems because my hands don't breathe well in them, become damp and then... I get more chillblains. (Chillblains are very painful sores caused by cold and dampness.) Washing rags becomes another issue, too. The damp items would have to be handled and hung on the line...not good for my hands! Since I am home the most, much of the housework falls to me.

 

One thing that I do now is I save hole-y socks. For me, socks are the perfect dry rag for most of my needs. I can stick one on the end of a broom to get a cobweb or use it for general dusting. They are great for grabbing onto the dust. I suppose I could darn my socks when they get holes in them, but they really don't make socks to last anymore. Hubby is extremely rough on his socks due to his job, so there are always hole-y socks to be had. I store them in a big pillowcase in the closet so that we always know where to find them.

 

 

 

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Over the years, I have wavered on the use of rags. I remember cutting up old bedsheets (once) and other things for use as rags. I stuffed them in a bag and hubby would use them for wiping greasy things down while working on a car or lawnmower. Eventually those ran out and he adopted an old raggedy towel which served the same purpose.

 

We've gone back and forth on the use of paper towels. At our most wasteful, we have used around one roll per day, but that would only be on weekend days since we weren't at home cooking or cleaning for very many hours during the week.

 

We still use paper towels and spend about $9 per month on them, even though there is always someone at home. We make better use of them than we used to, though. A paper towel that is used to dry hands is reused for hand drying, wiping down the counter or a small spill on the stove before it is thrown away. I would guess that most of our paper towels are used 3 times before being discarded.

 

The problem with rags in the kitchen for us is germs and cleanliness. In a restaurant, rags are generally kept in bleach water to keep from spreading the germs around. I can't have bleach around because the smell makes me extremely sick. Since developing chillblains on my hands, I find that they are far less tolerant of other chemicals and extremely hot or cold temps. Rubber gloves just add to the problems because my hands don't breathe well in them, become damp and then... I get more chillblains. (Chillblains are very painful sores caused by cold and dampness.) Washing rags becomes another issue, too. The damp items would have to be handled and hung on the line...not good for my hands! Since I am home the most, much of the housework falls to me.

 

One thing that I do now is I save hole-y socks. For me, socks are the perfect dry rag for most of my needs. I can stick one on the end of a broom to get a cobweb or use it for general dusting. They are great for grabbing onto the dust. I suppose I could darn my socks when they get holes in them, but they really don't make socks to last anymore. Hubby is extremely rough on his socks due to his job, so there are always hole-y socks to be had. I store them in a big pillowcase in the closet so that we always know where to find them.

 

 

 

I hear you about socks, my family go through them in large numbers. I wish they would wear house slippers which would make their socks last longer. I have few years ago to get myself back into being more thrifty, tried to darn few pairs of my husbands socks. What I did was to cut the top part (which never gets holes) of a holey sock and sewed it on the bottom of another sock with holes. It made his socks nice and thick and he liked wearing it around the house.

 

 

My family has gotten used to using paper towels/napkins/plates for number of years and it's hard to change. Hoping to change over to cloth napkins I keep the cloth and paper napkins together and I do see them taking cloth instead of the paper sometimes Slowly but surely I think. :)

 

 

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What works for one may not work for another. But I'm not gonna decide that.

 

themartianchick has some valid points, too. And if your water is precious in hard/emergency times, do you really want to use it washing out old rags? Each of us have their own ideas, needs, and solutions. It's great to think things through ahead of time.

 

:bighug2:

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What works for one may not work for another. But I'm not gonna decide that.

 

themartianchick has some valid points, too. And if your water is precious in hard/emergency times, do you really want to use it washing out old rags? Each of us have their own ideas, needs, and solutions. It's great to think things through ahead of time.

 

:bighug2:

 

I think that if I had a bit more help around the house, I could save a little more money on the paper towels, but that isn't likely to happen anytime soon. I did cut down on the number of paper plates and disposable silverware that we were using. Now, we only use those items when the grandkids come over to visit. 6 grandkids can really put a hurting on your clean dishes! Even with a dishwasher...

 

I forgot to add in my last post that I do have a few packs of cloth diapers and cheap washclothes from Dollar Tree that also make good rags. We just haven't used them yet.

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It's so true what you said Cat... "What works for one may not work for another" and not only that as I get older I can't keep up the way I used to...being thrifty takes a lot of time and energy out of me.

It has taken me a long time to learn (I'm a slow learner. lol) that I need to focus on few major areas that will give me the greatest savings and let the small things go.

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MJ2, I'm with you! I used to clean house from top to bottom, do laundry, go grocery shopping, iron shirts, mow the yard (riding mower) and have supper ready every Friday. That was when I was a lot younger. Now on Friday it's one or the other.

 

I've never used many paper towels. I remember my grandmother would have them all over the kitchen in various stages of drying. They would be drapped over the trash can and counter tops. It was kinda funny to see. That was when they first came out and she couldn't quite throw them away. I guess she used hers 2-3 times too. :wub:

 

When I use them I use them a couple of times too. I use styrofoam plates but then I wash them. Not sure why I do that? :misc-smiley-231:

 

Hummm, maybe a bag for used paper towels, like a rag bag, would work for some of us in the garage and for really nasty messes.

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................. we do save a bit by using the "pick-a-size" paper towels, each one is about 1/2 the size of a paper towel but if you need more just rip off 2 or 3 or 4 or MORE!

:AmishMichael2:

 

Good point, Michael! We recently opened a case of paper towels that were full-sized ones and we are finding them to be a big pain and a waste. I actually cut a few in half and left them on the counter this morning because we are all sick of grabbing a whole towel when a half of one would suffice!

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You can saw the roll in half, but I don't know how difficult it is. It was a money-saving tip from years ago. :shrug:

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When I buy paper towels, I buy the pick-a-size. A roll of paper towels lasts us about 6 weeks or most times longer. I bought some inexpensive white washcloths at Wal-Mart. They are what I use in the kitchen for cleaning. If I get them too greasy, then they get trashed. But, most of the time, I don't. I use a rubber spatula to get rid of most grease that I need to get out of dishes. Sometimes I take one paper towel to wipe the remainder out. As for the top of my stove, I use on paper towel if there are some grease spots that need to be cleaned.

 

Outside, we have a bucket of rags. My hubby worked for a company that bought pallets of rags to be used at work. He brought home the ones that he used (they threw them away at work, these usually only had some dirt on them) and I washed them when we had enough. He nows has an overflowing 5 gallon bucket full of those and torn up old t-shirts, towels, socks, etc. He uses them outside. If they get greasy, they get trashed or we use them to start the bonfire pit when we are cleaning up limbs.

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