What is a Washcloth

For centuries, the humble washcloth has been a bathroom staple for good hygiene. While loofahs and body scrubs promise deep cleansing, the trusty washcloth delivers effective, economical cleaning power using just water and soap.


Made from highly absorbent materials like cotton and bamboo, washcloths offer gentle exfoliation without irritation. Their small size makes them ideal for cleaning faces, hands, and bodies.

Read on to discover the many benefits of using washcloths and how to choose the best ones for glowing skin.

What Is A Washcloth?

A washcloth is a small, square piece of absorbent fabric used for cleaning and personal hygiene. It is similar to a towel but much smaller, usually around 12 x 12 inches in size. Washcloths are made from soft, absorbent materials like cotton, hemp, or bamboo. They can be used wet or damp to help clean the body more effectively than just using your hands.

Washcloths are versatile and can be used for a variety of cleaning tasks. For personal hygiene, they are great for gently exfoliating and cleansing the face and body. The texture helps remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. In the shower, apply a small amount of body wash or soap to a damp washcloth, lather it up, and use gentle circular motions to cleanse the skin.

In the bathroom sink, a washcloth is ideal for drying your face after washing instead of using a shared hand towel which can harbor germs. Washcloths are also handy for wiping up splashes and spills around the sink.

In the kitchen, use a washcloth to dry dishes, utensils, and surfaces. They are perfect for wiping up small messes.

Benefits Of Using Washcloths

Using a washcloth offers several advantages:

  • Gentle exfoliation: The texture gently removes dead skin cells without irritating sensitive skin. A washcloth can exfoliate as well as a physical scrub.
  • Cleansing: A washcloth helps spread cleanser and lift away dirt and oils more effectively than just using your hands.
  • Economical: Washcloths are reusable and inexpensive. They last a long time with proper care.
  • Convenient: Small and quick-drying, washcloths are easy to use and store. You can keep some by each sink.
  • Hygienic: Personal washcloths are more sanitary than sharing bar soaps or loofahs which can spread germs.
  • Versatile: Washcloths have many uses for cleaning faces, bodies, hands, dishes, surfaces, etc.
  • Softness: High-quality washcloths made from cotton, hemp, or bamboo are very soft on the skin.

How To Use A Washcloth

Follow these tips for properly using a washcloth:

  • Wet the washcloth with warm water before use. This helps open pores for deeper cleansing.
  • Apply a small amount of mild cleanser like body wash, facial cleanser, or just soap.
  • Gently massage the skin using light, circular motions. Avoid excessive scrubbing or pressure.
  • Rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of cleanser. Soap residue can irritate the skin.
  • Hang the used washcloth to dry completely. Bacteria thrive on damp fabrics.
  • Use a fresh, clean washcloth for each use. Do not reuse without washing.
  • Wash washcloths frequently in warm water using a gentle detergent.
  • Avoid fabric softeners which can coat fibers and reduce absorbency.
  • Replace washcloths every few months as they wear out with regular use.

Caring For Washcloths

To keep washcloths fresh and clean:

  • Allow washcloths to air dry completely after each use. Hanging in a breezy spot prevents mildew.
  • Wash after every 1-2 uses. More frequently if visibly soiled. The heat from the dryer helps sanitize.
  • Use bleach alternative or oxygen bleach occasionally to remove stains and disinfect.
  • Wash in hot water every few weeks to kill bacteria. Use a gentle detergent.
  • Avoid leaving damp washcloths wadded up. They won’t dry properly and can get musty.
  • Store in a cool, dry place. Heat and humidity encourage bacterial growth.
  • Don’t overload the washing machine. Washcloths need room to move and rinse clean.
  • Inspect periodically and replace washcloths that are worn, frayed, or stained.

Choosing The Best Washcloths

Look for these features when selecting washcloths:

  • Absorbent natural fibers like Turkish cotton, organic cotton, bamboo, or hemp
  • Soft texture that is gentle on the skin. Terry cloth or waffle weave are good options.
  • Quick drying so they don’t stay damp and promote bacterial growth
  • Durable construction that will withstand frequent laundering
  • Medium weight and thickness for versatility
  • Free of harmful chemicals with certification like OEKO-TEX Standard 100
  • Multipacks are economical. Stock up on extras.
  • Neutral colors avoid stains. White is ideal for sanitizing in bleach.
  • Plain design is best for cleaning purposes without embellishments.
  • Baby washcloths are extra soft and gentle for sensitive infant skin.

Washcloths For Babies

Washcloths are a nursery essential. Consider:

  • Super soft, 100% cotton washcloths for delicate newborn skin
  • Larger toddler-size washcloths as the baby grows
  • Ample supply – at least a dozen to have clean ones handy
  • Separate tub of clean clothes just for baby to prevent sharing germs
  • Using distilled water for infant washcloths to avoid mineral deposits
  • Washing with fragrance-free baby detergent and no fabric softener
  • Air drying in sunlight for extra disinfecting power
  • Daily washing, up to 3x per day for newborns
  • Double-duty as burp cloths and cleaning up baby messes


How often should you replace your washcloths?

It’s best to replace washcloths every 3-6 months with regular use. Highly used washcloths wear out over time as the fibers break down. Replace them more often if they become frayed, stained, or start feeling rough.

Should you use the same washcloth on your face and body?

It’s more hygienic to use separate washcloths for the face and body. Facial skin is delicate and prone to breakouts. Using a cleaner-designated face cloth reduces the chance of transferring bacteria between the body and the face.

What’s the best way to dry a washcloth?

After use, washcloths should be hung or laid flat immediately to dry completely. Avoid leaving them bunched up wet, as this prevents drying and breeds bacteria. Hang on a towel bar or drying rack.

How do you disinfect washcloths?

Washcloths can be disinfected by washing in hot water or bleach. White vinegar or tea tree oil also has antimicrobial properties. Avoid over-washing, as this can damage fibers. Air drying in sunlight regularly also naturally disinfects.

Should you use fabric softener on washcloths?

Avoid using fabric softener on washcloths, as it can coat the fibers and reduce absorbency. Softening washcloths also makes them less effective at exfoliating. Use mild laundry detergent and skip the softener.

What washcloth materials are best?

Look for washcloths made from natural materials like cotton, hemp and bamboo. Turkish cotton is prized for its softness and absorption. Organic cotton is ideal for chemical sensitivity. Bamboo is very sustainable and antimicrobial. Terry cloth is good for scrubbing exfoliation.


Washcloths are a versatile hygiene essential that should be in every home.

Not only are they gentle on the skin, but also economical, convenient, and eco-friendly.

With the proper care, high-quality washcloths can last for years. Invest in soft, absorbent washcloths made from natural materials for the family.

Emma Kellam
Emma Kellam

I'm Emma, and I run Towels Edition, a website for fellow home goods enthusiasts who, like me, are passionate about textiles. After working in high-end retail, I was amazed by how little most people (myself included!) know about all the towel options out there.

I research and write all the content myself. Whether it's specialized towels like bar mops, Turkish cotton production methods, or comparing hair towel absorbency, I cover it. My goal is to share my knowledge and enthusiasm to help others.

Running Towels Edition allows me to constantly expand my own expertise too. I love learning about innovations in bamboo fabric or ideal bath towels. It's so rewarding to receive emails thanking me for recommendations that improved my readers' routines.

I want Towels Edition to be the ultimate online towel resource, making this overlooked necessity far more fascinating. My aim is to open people's eyes to how specialty towels can thoroughly enhance hygiene, cleaning, recreation and self-care.