Washing Kitchen Cloths on The Stovetop

If I would dread something, would be to have the washing machine broken. Living with four men means we have a lot of large sized laundry. If we didn’t have the washing machine, I don’t know what I would do. Today my nightmare came true, and finally, after ten years, my washing machine broke. Since I had mentally prepared myself for this day, before I entered in panic, I calmed down and thought the following: Washing the kitchen towels are the most important thing. We always use them, and they can get pretty dirty. The rest of the close can wait a day or two for the laundromat.
Since I dealt with chemical sensitivities in the past, I have learned many things about toxic chemicals. Harsh chemicals are used to clean almost everything, from bathrooms to dishes. If you have ever walked in the laundry detergent section, you know that you can find all kinds of liquids and powders to get your clothes smelling and looking very clean. If you google the ingredients in those products, you may be surprised how toxic they can be.

At some point in my health journey, I would react badly to any soap detergent or cleaning product.
I had to learn to clean my entire house without chemicals to avoid various symptoms from chemical exposure. At first, it was tough to get used to not using the regular brands I knew. I got very frustrated when clothes came out smelling stale, especially the kitchen towels. In our house, we cook a lot. I have tracked my time, and I estimate that regularly, we spend around eight hours a day in the kitchen (separated into two or three chunks of time). We cook everything from scratch. Cooking like this requires a lot of cleaning and drying. Surfaces, spills, messes, and dishes, everything needs to be cleaned. One small little cloth is not enough. We use several kitchen towels a day. I run the washing machine in the hottest water cycle only for kitchen towels because I only use mild detergents (with natural plants), and they are not enough to kill the microbes on the cloths.

If I get conscientious, I don’t want to run a whole washing cycle for only 5 or 6 kitchen towels. Sometimes I decide to wait for a day or two until I have enough kitchen towels to run at least half a laundry load.

Suppose I place the kitchen towels in a bucket without soap and water. The towels will end up growing mold by day two. Then I wish I could disappear the kitchen towels or toss them under the drawer’s back and pretend that nobody saw that.

I thought it was a better idea not to hide the mold smelling wet kitchen towels and wash them by hand. But using just mild plant organic soap does not do the job.
How did they do it in the old days when there were no store-bought chemicals? How did they wash stinky clothes when they did not have electricity or disposable kitchen towels?
I was born in 1972, and I believe my family did not have a washing machine until years later.
I heard stories of mom coming back from work and school and washing poopy baby diapers by hand. How did they get them clean and smelling fresh?

I remember the smell of chlorine vapors used to wash whites and get them fresh and bright. With the time, the cotton would tear easily. I never knew I would become so allergic to chlorine and so conscientious about the health of the water running down the drain.

The only reason we use chemicals these days is to kill the microbes in the clothes and remove stains. I do not care about stains on the kitchen towels, but I care about not having a growing set of nasty little bugs to dry my plates. I also care about not washing toxic chemicals down the drain, and minimizing my families toxic exposures.

How do you deal with your daily dirty kitchen towels?


In a pot, I add water and non-toxic plant-based dish soap.

I set the pot on the stove on high heat until the water starts to boil (filling the pot too much will have boiling water overflowing each time I add a kitchen towel. So I am careful not to overfill the pot).

I add some baking soda and the juice of a lime.

Then I toss the whole lime inside the pot after squeezing the lime juice.

I boil the cloths for a few minutes.

After, I take the pot into the sink and carefully stir the kitchen towels with a wooden spoon (simulating the washing machine’s movement, which is a circular motion). *I do this very carefully. On this step, I could get badly burned. The water is dangerously hot.

Then I run cold water on the pot and rinse the kitchen towels.

I squeeze the water off and hang them on the line to dry.

When dry, I fold them and enjoy the lime freshly smelling kitchen towels.

I would love to know what do you think about using this method for cleaning kitchen towels.

*To my surprise, they smell even cleaner than when I wash them in the washing machine.