How to Clean Those Super Stinky Kitchen Dishcloths

published Aug 15, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

It’s such a satisfying thing to clean your countertop, or the inside of your sink (right? I know it’s not just me). Clearing the clutter and getting down to a nice, clean surface — especially if you’re using a good-smelling cleaner — just helps reset the whole kitchen, and your mood.

Know what ruins that? Reaching for a dishcloth (or worse, using it) only to find that it reeks. Blech. Talk about a cleaning buzzkill. Not only does it not give you that nice, soothing clean vibe you’re after, but now your hands smell like nasty dishrag funk. Seriously, gross. 

If you’ve thrown your rags in the laundry, all hopeful, only to find that the smell is still there or it comes right back after, say, one use, you know how tempting it is to throw them all away. But that’s so wasteful!

It’s ok though. The internet has come through with a solution. You don’t have to toss your stinky dishcloths. You can actually get the smell out, says the blogger behind Penny Pinchin’ Mom. Because she wasn’t using chlorine bleach on her dishcloths, she found that they used to develop that dreaded stink after a couple months. In true penny-pinching fashion, she found a hack to banish the odor so she could keep the dishcloths in service. 

It’s super simple and takes just a few minutes, with stuff you already have. And it’s incredibly effective! Here goes.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn
1 / 4
Fill a large pot: Fill it at least halfway (to three-quarters) with water from the tap.

How to Clean Stinky Kitchen Dishcloths

What You Need

  • A large pot
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Vinegar
  • A ladle (or something else to stir with)


  1. Fill a large pot: Fill it at least halfway (to three-quarters) with water from the tap.
  2. Add the cleaning solution: Add a teaspoon or two of liquid dish soap (we like Dawn for this!) and half a cup of vinegar.  
  3. Add the rags: Put a few rags in the water, and bring everything to a boil. Keep an eye on the pot. Let it boil for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. 
  4. Drain: Drain the water. You can put the dishcloths out in the sun to dry, but we find that a drying rack in your laundry room works just as well. Then, toss them in the wash as usual (in hot water) and there ya go — no more stinky rags!