Kitchen linens get a special kind of dirty, because most people don't just use them for drying dishes — they also use them to wipe up crumbs off the countertop, dry their hands, swab spills off the floor, and dab jelly off their kids' faces. Often, all in one day, several times a day. And some of us (okay, me!) don't wash our kitchen linens nearly as often as we should.
But let's just say, for the sake of argument, you take your linens out of rotation for a good old-fashioned washing as often as you're supposed to (which should be every other day!): Do you wash them with the rest of the laundry, or on their own? They're definitely extra gross, but washers these days should be able to handle it, right?
I asked cleaning pro Melissa Maker, author of Clean My Space. She is so meticulous about her linens, she makes sure they dry between uses (to prevent mildew).
Turns out, you certainly can wash your dirty tea towels with your favorite cotton sundress and a bunch of T-shirts. However, Maker does not. She washes her kitchen linens separately. But it's not for the reason you think.
"The main reason I wash my kitchen linens separately is for ease of use," Maker confesses. As someone who's also meticulous about laundry, she's constantly separating her lights from her darks and gentle-cycle fabrics from those that can take the heat. Because she frequently swaps out her linens, she quickly creates a small load of laundry, all of which can be cleaned on the same settings. So it's easier to just dump her basket of linens straight into the washing machine than it is to carry the linens to the hamper in her closet and sort them.
The reason you should wash your kitchen towels separately from the rest of your laundry: If you're changing them out as often as you should be, then you'll have enough to towels for their own load. Just remember this when you're planning your laundry loads and it should help you change out your kitchen linens often enough.
She builds up a load's worth of kitchen towels and throws them all in together. This way, they all dry evenly and folding is a cinch. (I've heard from several moms over the years that it's so much easier to wash and dry like items with like because then you don't have to waste time digging through the pile when it comes to folding the clean stuff.)
As long as you have a decent washer, it actually doesn't matter if you wash your linens separately. But if it makes your life easier, you should do it! Maybe it'd be good incentive to wash them as often as you're supposed to in the first place.
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