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What do you wipe your counters with?

One kitchen problem that I have never really solved is "wipes". I currently use J Cloths but i find that wasteful - so I end up using them past the best before date and have a tiny quasi-rag that barely does anything. The benefit is that they do not go mildew.

The synthetic sponge seems to do a lousy job of wiping - just when you need it most you push on it and oozes water onto your or table.

Bottled sprays and paper towels are a non starter for me - you still need to wipe down surfaces with some of rag/towel.

Dishrags seem to go mildew very fast unless strategically hung over the sink - a process that interferes with the sink's constant use and cannot be reliably implemented by all family members.

Some people talk about boiling and bleaching these things daily etc etc. that is just not going to happen in my world.

What is the best, most practical solution? Some type of kitchen rag - that gets thrown in the laundry at day's end? What brand? Does that work?

What do you do?

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  1. We use whatever we're using to clean the crockery. Might be a J Cloth, might be something else.

    Is that hygienic? Nope, it isn't - but we've not come to any harm in the 40 years we've been doing it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      What is a J cloth? Dn't believe i'v ever seen one.

      1. re: josephnl

        It's a handiwipe. I asked, too. They answered it down thread.

    2. Paper towels for me. If the counters need to be disinfected I will use some 409 spray. I will frequently just spray with a little of the water I keep in my baking mister and wipe down.

      Curious why you think the counters still need to be wiped with a rag after the paper towel. I've never noted a problem.

      1. A small short pile terrycloth towel, folded as necessary, dampened (not soaked) with white vinegar. Works like a charm and, at day's end, goes into the laundry.

        1 Reply
        1. re: todao

          Same here. I have a bunch of old/retired wash clothes in a simple human grocery bag dispenser. My laundry room is conveniently right off the kitchen, so I just toss the cloth in the washer when I'm done.

        2. I zap my sponges and dish cloths in the microwave.

          2 Replies
          1. re: wyogal

            Ours go in the dishwasher. We do a sponge, towel and rag load once a week...and air dry.
            I stopped buying paper towels years ago and took to using paper napkins as both table use and quick clean up when paper is the solution. I much prefer reuseable stuff tho so the dishwasher trick works for us.

            1. re: wyogal

              So do I. Wet, and one minute kills all the microbes, and doesn't make them all crumbly the way the dishwasher does.

              I wipe down with paper towels and bleach solution after all raw anything prep work. The sink, too, if meat is involved.

            2. Straight bleach is what I use to disinfect in my kitchen & bath; sometimes I use a dishcloth, sometimes a papertowel. Cloth goes in the washer.

              11 Replies
              1. re: Cherylptw

                A capful of bleach in a quart of water is way plenty to disinfect.

                1. re: Hank Hanover

                  As is baking soda without the chemical smell.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    Even peroxide is good. I use a commercial surface disinfectant, like they use in nursing homes, when I have concerns about germs. Otherwise just whatever water has accumulated is usually enough, or I keep a bottle of water with a little vinegar and a tiny bit of dish soap, instead of Windex.

                    Have gotten in the habit of using a dedicated dish towel to wipe during each meal period, then tossing in the laundry. Just being cheap, with the price of paper towels.

                    1. re: coll

                      Just being cheap, with the price of paper towels.
                      Yep, me too. DH can go through a shocking amount of paper towels so they are stored in an area where I know he is too lazy to go and retrive them.

                  2. re: Hank Hanover

                    I keep a spray bottle with bleach/water on the sink, and I use it for everything. I always wash with soap and water first, then spray with bleach water, and let it air dry.....

                    1. re: jeanmarieok

                      That's what Alton Brown advises in "Just Here For The Food."

                      1. re: racer x

                        I think it's a fairly standard servsafe recommendation. I have little bleach strips to test that the solution is not too strong. A 22oz bottle last me a couple of months - hardest thing about it is remembering I put the test strips. It's a lot less bleach than you would think, 1/2 teaspoon to that bottle is too strong, I always have to dump some and add more water.....

                        1. re: jeanmarieok

                          I tried using the bleach spray bottle regularly for a few months at one point, but since I never wear an apron in the kitchen, I found myself ruining too many pieces of clothing (it just takes one little drop!). And I realized that I had done just fine without it for years and years before that. So now it's just brought out occasionally, for really stubborn stains or when I want to be especially sure that surfaces have been decontaminated.

                          1. re: racer x

                            I've done the same... that is a drawback. But it's the only thing I'm comfortable using after raw meat/fish handling. :-/

                  3. re: Cherylptw

                    I know what can be used but, frankly, I often use "409" or a drop of dishwashing liquid on a damp sponge, especially if it is pretty dirty or greasy. I usually have to rinse the sponge out and wipe again then dry with a flour sack dishtowel.

                  4. I don't know what a jcloth is. I use 3m scotch sponges. I can throw them n the dishwasher or I can nuke them in the microwave. In fact the best way I have found to clean a microwave is putting a damp sponge in and nuking it for 2 minutes and then leaving there for another 2 minutes then wips out the microwave with the sponge. The guck in the microwave has been softened by the steam that was generated nuking the sponge.

                    I use paper towels and flour sack kitchen towels, too.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                      This is a j-cloth Hank:


                      We are a rag cloth household. About 4 in rotation. Each does approx. 3 days' duty before heading to the washing machine. They last around 3 months.

                      1. re: Robin Joy

                        this j cloth looks to me what we call in the US, or at least in the eastern US, a handi-wipe.

                        I use sponges and put in the dishwasher frequently. Squeeze out each time and rinse with hard water and squeeze again. Don't leave it with water in it! My DH does this all the time. About once a week I fill up the sink with hot tap water and a capful of bleach. Let sponges and plastic dish scrub soak in it and then use the coolish water to wipe down all the counters and frequently used handles, dishwasher outside, fridge and freezer handles, light switches, microwave outside, and obvious stains/crumbs inside fridge. Use the bleach water as well to wipe down spigot, sink sprayer, door knobs, etc. Now the sink is clean and I used it to soak and drain the weeks greens and lettuces.

                    2. I use biodegradable J-cloths (noticed them on the market about 9 months ago or so), so I feel less guilty about the fact that they're disposable. And I use a home-made, natural, all purpose cleaner that has tea tree oil in it (to disinfect).

                      1. I just use the softish cloth I use for dishes, and squeeze out the water. I'll rinse it between counters, after a particularly messy or crumby spot, etc. I wash them with towels and such.

                        For spots I'm actually somewhat concerned about, like raw chicken mess, I'll use something disposable like a disinfectant wipe or a spray and some paper towel.

                        1. Paper towels and either Simple Green, Caldrea, or Mrs Meyers cleaners. Sometimes a dish towel.

                          1. I will wash with sponge and soapy water and then dry with a paper towel.

                            1. Costco sells big bundles of yellow microfiber cloths--they might be with the automotive or hardware. These are fantastic for all cleaning tasks. I use them in place of paper towels for just about everything, as dustcloths and counter wipers. They work equally well wet or dry, and are are big enough that they can get cut in half so a bundle is an Armys' worth. They are indestructible and wash perfectly.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: splatgirl

                                This is what I use all over my house. They come in different colours here in LA - I use green ones for the floors, blue ones for my counters/sinks, and orange ones to quickly dry off after swimming!

                                Pro-tip: they are also excellent for drying cats. Like, two swipes and she's dry. A-mazing.

                                1. re: khh1138

                                  ...and for overgrown Labs who love to swim.

                              2. Hint: It doesn't really matter unless you have someone who is immuno-compromised in the house.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Karl S

                                  That may have been true before agricultural abuse of antibiotics made super strains of bugs that we're all compromised in the face of to some degree. But you pays your money, you takes your chances.

                                  1. re: Karl S

                                    (But you don't necessarily know whether a guest is immunocompromised.)

                                  2. I just use the cloth I use to wash the dishes. Counters get wiped before any dishes. I use a natural dish soap to which I add a bit of tea tree oil for disinfectant purposes. I have a couple of hOols on the door beneath the sink and put the wet cloth there. That way they dry but are not in the way. Works for us.
                                    I never use chlorine bleach and don't keep it in the house.

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: CanadaGirl

                                      I hope you rinse very well, since tea tree oil is an endocrine disrupter. I'd use white vinegar if avoiding bleach. YMMV.

                                      1. re: mcf

                                        I have a squirt bottle of white vinegar in my shower, so while I am finishing the shower, I can clean it (the only way to reallY get to it is to be IN it), without having to worry about fumes, burning, etc. And every now and then, squirt some in my hair, too!

                                        1. re: wyogal

                                          I used to do that, got out of the habit. Well, not the hair spritz...

                                        2. re: mcf

                                          And what is an endocrine disrupter? I speak endocrine pretty well, but am not familiar with the phrase? Do you have some reference for it? Very interesting.

                                          1. re: lemons


                                            Wiki can give you the top-level info -- if you want more information, there 100+ citations there.

                                            1. re: lemons

                                              I'm sorry, I just saw this, but it is pretty easy to look up. They tend to be estrogenic compounds but can have a variety of effects. Lavendar and tea tree oil supposedly can down regulate male sex steroids in boys/men if used on the skin to bathe. I don't know how much TTO residue is left on dishes after rinsing, though.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                "down regulate"
                                                What does this mean? If my son uses tea tree shampoo, is this a problem?

                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                  It seems to me it's got the potential, with regular exposures over time and that there are plenty of products that don't contain lavendar or tea tree oils, or parabens, BPA, etc... why risk it? Anything you apply to your skin, especially your scalp, gets absorbed to some degree.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                I wish people had exposure to more than just tea tree essential oil. There's a whole huge world of good stuff out there. Right now I'm using a good bit of palma rosa - smells nice, kills stuff, gentle enough to put on my face.

                                              2. re: CanadaGirl

                                                I'm curious. Why do you avoid bleach? I am assuming we are talking laundry bleach which is about 6% chlorine in water. My understanding is a teaspoon in a quart or so of water is an effective disinfectant and the bleach costs about $2 per gallon.

                                                What are the advantages of tea tree oil? I know it costs somewhere around $4 an ounce. If t is an oil, won't it leave a residue that will collect dust?

                                              3. The microfiber cloths are definitely the best. Leaves no streaking and wash well. Buy them at Costco. They are good for just about anything.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: linda54

                                                  +1 on microfiber cloths, even on the SS appliances. About counters: saw all the replies about bleach, baking soda, vinegar, etc--my question: can they be used on granite?

                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                    You can pretty much use whatever you want to on granite. It doesn't need to be babied.

                                                2. Usually a soapy (synthetic) sponge.
                                                  When that isn't enough, isopropyl alcohol with the sponge or with a paper towel.

                                                  When the sponge itself needs a cleaning, it gets sprayed down with a diluted bleach solution.

                                                  1. I nuke my sponges and throw them out every week or two. When the counter really needs to be disinfected (after raw meat juice spills on it), I use Lysol wipes. Otherwise, a quick spray with white vinegar and then a wipe down with a clean paper towel are fine.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Isolda

                                                      Ditto on nuking the sponges -- and ditto on how it works well to clean all the spatters out of the microwave! (I religiously use one of the microwave domes...but the filthy little kitchen gnomes apparently microwave all their party food in the middle of the night....)

                                                      No Lysol wipes (can't buy them here) -- but after I retire my sponges from the kitchen, they go into the bucket for bathroom and other general cleaning uses.

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        Yup, I have a demotion rotation for sponges, too--kitchen first, then bathroom tub/ sinks/counters, and their final days are for toilets. Then garbage.

                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                          I have two sponges, floor and counter, always different colors, stored in different spots. Counter sponge gets rotated to floor status when no longer fresh, both get bleached and nuked weekly at least. Once no longer good for floors, sponges get tossed, rinse, repeat.

                                                    2. Soapy sponge and dry with a cotton towel (which goes in the laundry at the end of the day). If I'm dealing with chicken or pork I use diluted bleach water.

                                                      1. I've been showing my house for what seems like forever. I've found that the pop up disinfectant wipes are perfect for a last wipe down. But I also use them for general clean up on the day we show. Mr. Sueatmo uses paper towels, and I doubt he will ever forgo using them. But if I ever get to the point when I don't have to clean up for possible buyers I think I'd like to try microfiber towels.

                                                        I had some old dishcloths that we used before this.

                                                        I should be finished cleaning up for strangers now. We have a contract, and we've had inspection. This has been an interesting and l-o-n-g process.

                                                        1. I'm like the family in the Big Fat Greek Wedding. I keep a spray bottle of Windex next to my (glass top) stove aind use it to clean up everything in the kitchen from that cooktop to counters to big and small appliances -- even an occasional hairball. Depending on the chore I'll either use a dish towel or a paper towel.

                                                          1. Charmin. It's dual-purpose.

                                                            1. I use hot/wet bar clothes and a soap form Germany that cleans/ polishes the counters that are tumbled marble. I don't use paper towels or sponges.

                                                              1. I have many dozens of cotton squares from dh's old T-shirts under the sink. I use those (like paper toweling) and vinegar to clean all surfaces in the kitchen. They just get tossed into the wash. Meat juices are cleaned up with disposable paper toweling.

                                                                1. I use a sponge for general cleanup and nuke it or throw it in the dishwasher every day. For extra cleanup after cutting up meat, chicken, etc., I sprinkle Comet on the counter (formica) and scrub and rinse it well with a clean rag.

                                                                  1. Dishrag, the same one I used to wash the dishes (as long as it isn't "messy").

                                                                    1. I have a stack white bar towels, enough that I have 5 or 7 clean ones on hand every day. These are used to drying hands and general table and counter clean up. I spray the counters down with a white vinegar solution in a spray bottle. I buy them at the big box store and when they get ratty enough, they move to dusting duty. I need to do laundry frequently enough that they never sit in the hamper more than two days.

                                                                      1. That's good input thanks. I will try the microfibre towels (costco) and a vinegar solution in a spray bottle. For what its worth I never intended to disinfect - garden variety 'clean" is fine for me.

                                                                        1. I use either a 1:1 vinegar-water solution, or Clorox wipes if I've spilled something.

                                                                          1. Any spray cleanser I have at hand (409, Windex, etc.) and a paper towel. Never gave it much thought. Should I?

                                                                            1. Depends what I am cleaning up. If I have meat juices on the counter I will use my soapy sponge to clean up the initial mess and then go over it with a few quick sprays of vinegar and a paper towel. For general messes (i.e. fairly "safe" ones), I use my J-Cloth and a few shots of vinegar. We have dark granite counter tops, so I find that the vinegar does the best job of cutting grease and leaves my counters nice and shiny.

                                                                              We have a rule in my kitchen: when a tea towel is too wet to dry any more dishes, it goes straight to the laundry basket. I have a basket of tea towels in the kitchen so there are always clean ones available. My tea towels get washed weekly with a cup of baking soda and whatever laundry detergent I'm currently using.

                                                                              I throw my dish sponge and holder in the dishwasher whenever there is space to disinfect everything.

                                                                              I try and wash my J-Cloth every few weeks in the washing machine with the tea towels. If it's really rank but still good (i.e. free of holes), I throw it in the dishwasher. Once it gets a few holes, it gets a proper wash and stored under the sink for other messy jobs such as cleaning up dog vomit or wiping salty shoes in the winter.

                                                                              Reading this over, I sound very anal. I thank my dad who disinfected and shined up the kitchen sink every night!

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: ladooShoppe

                                                                                I never use my sponges on meat juices, even though I bleach spray and nuke them regularly. That's one job I use disposable paper towels and bleach for, on the counters and in the sink.

                                                                              2. I use a bar mop with very hot water or sometimes white vinegar. If it's a big cleaning job I may use paper towels and Simple Green spray.

                                                                                I wash the dirty bar mops frequently using hot water, detergent and oxy-clearn.