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Declutter Kitchen Towels & Dish Cloths {15 Minute Mission}

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Today's decluttering mission is to declutter your kitchen towels and dish cloths, and also decorative tea towels, and even kitchen rags.

Kitchen Organization Challenge
We're doing this mission while working through the Kitchen Organization Challenge here on the site.

This mission probably won't take you too much time, but do actually do it. I can't tell you how many people have said to me, as they've done this mission, that they were surprised by the sheer number of these cloths they actually had in their kitchens, and they didn't realize it.

You know you'll need to do this mission if the drawer, cabinet, or other area where you store these items is hard to close, overflowing, or so junked up you can't find what you're looking for.

For example, one reader, Reba said: "I will admit, when I started, I thought, 'I have a handle on this mission, there won't be much to get rid of.' But I was wrong. I have some new-found cabinet space. Woohoo!" Here's the photo she submitted of the items she decided to get rid of.

Decluttered kitchen towels and dish cloths to create lots more space in your kitchen {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}

How Many Kitchen & Dish Cloths Should You Keep?

This is a common question I've received when we do this mission, but it is also quite subjective and something hard to make a rigid rule about.

The best advice I can give is to make sure you keep a good enough supply of both kitchen towels, as well as dish cloths and kitchen rags to have enough to use between launderings, and I suggest washing these types of items after each use (or at the end of a day of use at the least).

That might mean you need enough kitchen towels for about a week max, if you do laundry that infrequently.

Of course, you also need to only keep enough to fit into the space you've got for them, which might mean you'll need to change your routine some and wash cloths a bit more frequently than you have in the past.

Tell me in the comments below how many you've kept and why, which can help
others with guidance when choosing a good amount for themselves as well.

Which Ones Should You Declutter?

First get rid of the stained, ripped, frayed and worn out cloths and rags that you always try to avoid using anyway.

That's the obvious ones to declutter, and then just keep decluttering until you have the amount you need and that will into the space you've got available to store them.

Don't Forget To Deal With Seasonal & Holiday Tea Towels & Kitchen Cloths

I know a lot of people love to have seasonal cloths for their kitchen, and that is perfectly fine. My personal suggestion though is to not keep those in your kitchen taking up space year round.

Instead, keep those cloths with that season's decorations and take them out when the season begins, and then return them back to this storage area when the season is over. That way you don't forget to use them when they're appropriate but the rest of the year they're not taking up valuable space in your drawers or cabinets.

What Should You Do With The Cloths You Declutter?

Another frequent question I receive during this mission is what to do with the cloths you declutter.

There are most certainly a lot more ideas than what I'm suggesting below, so be sure to give your additional ideas below in the comments.

If they are nice, you just have too many, donation to a charity that helps families who need general household items is a great idea.

In addition, those which are extremely worn or stained may move from being nicer kitchen towels to cleaning rags within your home, so you are moving them to a grimier purpose in your own home.

Remember again, tell me your ideas below!

So, without further ado here are photos sent in by readers who've already done this mission. These photos also give you several ideas for how and where to store your dish cloths and kitchen towels in your kitchen in case you need or want to move them from their current space.

Top image courtesy of starshaped on Flickr CC

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Before & After Of Decluttered & Organized Kitchen Towels

by Kelly

Kelly sent in this before and after photo, and said, "I realize that I have a LOT of kitchen towels. They were spilling over from their drawer into a cluttered cabinet.

I purged some, put seasonal towels into storage, and rolled the rest to try to fit more into the drawer."

How to declutter and organize kitchen towels {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

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I Had A Lot More Dish Cloths & Towels Than I Realized!

by Laurie

Laurie stores her cloths in her cabinet right by the sink, and she sent in this photo, saying, "I had waaayyyy more than I thought! The cabinet is deep, so I actually bought more thinking I didn't have enough! Now, I only have ones in there that I am not embarrassed by : )"

Great job Laurie! Looks great now!

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Got Down To One Drawer From Two!

Dana also decluttered and she showed this after photo, above, saying, "Ok, so I had two drawers full of this stuff and things I didn't even remember I had! I had 5 oven mitts. For gosh sakes I only have two hands! Unless I was fitting an octopus to do my baking, I pitched all but two! Lol. Went from two drawers to one!"

Great job Dana! Make sure to also check out the declutter potholders and oven mitts mission for even more ideas and inspiration for getting rid of these types of items, which are often stored in the same place as your kitchen and dish towels.

In addition, if you want to separate out various types of towels from one another inside your drawer you can keep some in a small shallow basket, similar to how a reader, Chelena, did it below. She said, "Here is my drawer. That's a Tupperware ice cube tray!"

Separate certain kitchen towels from others, such as dish towels from hand towels, inside a kitchen drawer by using a shallow basket or storage container {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

How to fold kitchen towels in the best way for organization and storage
You might notice how several readers photos show how they fold their kitchen towels and dish cloths, like Chelena does.

Believe it or not, the way you fold your kitchen cloths makes a big difference in how tidy they look, and how organized they are.

That's why I've written a quick article about how to organize and fold kitchen towels here that shows you what I believe is the best way to do it! Bonus, it's simple and quick!

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Unpaper Towels & Homemade Cleaning Wipes Drawer Organized

by Susan

How to declutter kitchen towels and dish cloths {a #Declutter365 mission on Home Storage Solutions 101} #DeclutterKitchen #KitchenClutteruse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest
Today's mission includes whatever kinds of cloths you've got in your kitchen for wiping up spills, cleaning dishes, or whatever use you have for them.

The photo above is from a reader, Susan, who explained, "We ditched paper towels this year, so this is my drawer of unpaper towels for scrubbing counters and messes and extra homemade baby wipes that I reallocated for cleaning baby hands after meal times.

Same size drawer as my other towel drawer, and when all are clean, the drawer is completely full. The tube there is extra (clean) produce bags. My mom saved them when I was a kid, and they always seen to come in handy."

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Storage Idea: Hold Your Dish Cloths & Kitchen Towels In Basket Or Decorative Container

As you've seen these photos from readers showing how they did this mission you've simultaneously seen the two most common ways to store kitchen towels and dish cloths, either on shelves in your kitchen cabinet or cupboard, or in a kitchen drawer.

But there are other alternatives as well, and if you don't have a lot of storage space in your drawers or cabinets, this one might work for you -- use baskets or a decorative container to hold them.

That's exactly what a couple of readers have done. The picture above is from a reader, Sabrina, who as part of this mission moved her baskets to a new spot.

In addition, the picture below is from another reader, Tamara. She said, "Dish towels 7; Rags 5; all gifts which fit beautifully in the space I budgeted for them. I think they look kinda like a bouquet."

Keep your kitchen towels and dish cloths in a decorative container for convenience and decoration {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

How cute, right? This idea may or may not work for you, depending on how much stuff you want to keep on your kitchen counters, but it is at least one to consider!

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Are You Ready To Declutter & Organize Your Kitchen Towels Now?

I hope these instructions and photos have inspired you to do this mission now. It won't take too long, but it can make a positive impact in your kitchen.

(And thanks to a reader, Melissa, for the photo above!)

Want To Do More Decluttering Missions? Get Started With Declutter 365 Today!

Declutter 365 missions: 15 minute missions for your entire home

Once you declutter one type of item in your home I bet you'll want to declutter some more. After all, decluttering gives you a great reward for even a small investment of time and energy.

The Declutter 365 system is designed to help you declutter, over the course of a year, your entire house, with just 15 minutes of decluttering each day!

Hundreds of thousands of people use this proven system to get rid of their clutter, and bring peace and calm back to their homes.

Declutter 365 works to guide you to clear the clutter without overwhelm, focusing on just one small area at a time, and without making a huge mess in the process, so you see consistent forward progress without all that "messy middle" that makes it even harder to function in your home than before you started.

In addition to building a daily decluttering habit, the Declutter 365 program, along with the accompanying 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, teaches you the skills, habits, routines, and mindsets necessary to maintain the clutter free and organized state of your home from now on, so it'll never be as messy and cluttered as it is right now, ever again.

If you haven't already, make sure to get your copy of this year's Declutter 365 annual calendar here (it's FREE!), find today's date, and do 15 minutes of decluttering on the day's mission. Then, repeat again tomorrow, and again and again. Over the course of the next year, if you do this 15 minutes per day, you'll declutter your whole house!

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Get This Kitchen Decluttering Checklist + 32 Other Decluttering Checklists For Your Home

Right now you're decluttering your kitchen, and there's a lot of stuff to declutter in this space.

Get your 2 page kitchen decluttering checklist, plus 32 other decluttering checklists, to help you declutter your entire home here.

Get this kitchen decluttering checklist and 32 other decluttering checklists for your home {on Home Storage Solutions 101}

I've done the hard work of breaking down these tasks into smaller more manageable steps for you, so you don't get overwhelmed or worry you're forgetting a task, and you can go at the pace you want, whether that's fast or slow.

In addition, you can tackle these decluttering tasks in whatever order you want when you use these checklists!

Click here to learn more about 33 Decluttering Checklists Pack

How to declutter and organize kitchen towels and dish cloths, with lots of pictures from real people who've done this #Declutter365 mission {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Getting Clutter Free 15 Minutes At A Time Hall Of Fame

Getting Rid Of Kitchen Clutter Hall Of Fame

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Go From How To Declutter Kitchen Towels & Dish Cloths To Home Page

Comments for Are You Ready To Declutter & Organize Your Kitchen Towels Now?

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Repurposing dish towels
by: D

If you are a sewer/quilter, make pot holders from your extra dish towels. Cut towels to preferred size, sandwich around quilt batting and trim with matching or contrasting seam binding, leaving a loop for hanging. An inexpensive way to co-ordinate your kitchen.

Idea for where to donate
by: Anonymous

Another place that can use old clean towels of any size are animal shelters, clinics, and rescue centers. Most rely on donations.

by: Olivera

It's the beginning of January, so you can try this: cut kitchen towels, kitchen clothes and rugs in small pieces and keep it in one bag. Once we come to challenges related to declutter clothes you will add a lot to this bag. At the end of the year you will have enough material to fill up your new decorative pillows or a lazy bag for kid's room.

Dish cloths?
by: Anonymous

I don't use dish cloths. I have a sponge and a spare.

Uses for old towels
by: Anonymous

All my old towels and tee shirts are cut into useable size rags and put in a bag on a hook near the tool storage to be used for shop & paint rags, terry towels are used in pet carriers or boxes for comfort when caring for sick pets or livestock orphans.

Love this idea!
by: angiem65

I love the idea of storing produce bags in a paper towel tube! I just cleaned out my supply of produce bags and get so tired of them ending up all over the cupboard. In the past I have tried the trick of storing all bags inside one but usually this gets to be a big ball that is complicating my space. Thanks for the wonderful idea.

folding cloths and towels to fit the drawer
by: Anonymous

I also fold my cloths and towels to fit the drawer. That means some get folded in thirds, and some in fourths, etc.

Thanks for the idea
by: Sheree

I like the tube of plastic bags in the drawer. Clever.

by: itsrenee

Hi .. .another suggestion to avoid putting unwanted towels in the garbage. Some areas now accept unusable cloth items. Ie: bigger thrift stores, some clothing recycle/donation bins. They keep the unwanted cloth items (also includes old shirts, underwear etc) out of our landfills. These places will take unwanted cloth and have them broken down and woven into shop rags (for example).

how I decided how many dish towels to keep
by: Tina

I keep 15 dish towels on hand. I too was worried about how many to keep so I started with keeping one and added each one has needed. I did this for 2 weeks and NO washing just to see how many towels I really need and 15 is the number so the rest went! Now, of course if I washed I would of needed less but I decided to do the "no washing" thing in case I could not wash for whatever reason.

I thought I was organized, but I'm finding things to declutter
by: Vi

I have always been proud of how well my kitchen was organized. Many friends have commented on that. However, going through my kitchen with the express purpose of de-cluttering has prompted two trips to good will, so far. I am donating the things I haven't used in a year (in many cases a number of years).

I am 68. I am very active, work full time, (health professional). As I go through an area and find things like the bread maker, for instance, I say, oh yeah! I remember that stage! I make my bread by hand now, much better texture. The bread machine is now at good will.

I am one of those people who change kitchen towels and table cloths each month. I have a bankers box (Staples), for each month that holds towels, table cloths and small knicknacks of the season. They are all stored on shelves in the laundry room. I am on my IPad mini, my computer died, so I can't upload pictures.

Lots of dishcloths and use all of them
by: Anonymous

Yes, I have a lot of dishcloths, but I only wash them in bleach. Since there are just two of us, I wash dishcloths about every three weeks. I change dishcloths every day, sometimes twice a day, depending upon how many times I need to use it. My Christmas and Thanksgiving towels are packed with that season's decorations. My dishcloths are well organized.

got this one done after Christmas
by: Janet

I actually did this after Christmas when I was putting away the Christmas towels. I always seem to miss one when I'm putting them away so I started digging around in the too full drawer and thought this needs to be cleaned out. Much nicer now. No grubby towels and the drawer closes easily. I'm going to pick up a few new ones when I see something I like.

what to do with old dish towels and wash rags
by: Kristina

I take the old and ugly dishtowels and the wash rags and re-utilize them for an icky job. We have a large storage bin that we keep all the old and uglies in, in the garage and it's labeled. We use these "rags" for anything from paint cleanup and dirty dog feet, to checking the oil in the car or adding gas to the mower. It's very handy and I don't feel bad about tossing the used uglies in the trash after they've had a second use. I also do this with old t-shirts, worn out wash cloths and socks. I cut the shirts into different sized pieces since you have different sized jobs. They work fabulously for waxing or polishing furniture! No mess to cleanup and you don't have to worry about this stuff in your washer or dryer. Hope that helps somebody.

Awesome way to store those towels!
by: Anonymous

I love it! That saves a lot of space and you can still see the designs and patterns of the towels! Thanks for sharing!

deep cabinets - how to get rid of the "dead space"
by: Carolee

When we moved into our new home (we downsized), I found the linen closet shelves in the bathroom were very deep and I was "losing stuff" that was getting pushed to the back. When I finally realized this one day while looking for something, I went through all of the items that had gotten pushed to the back and those things I hadn't even missed, I donated. Then I put large, empty shoe boxes in the very far back of the shelves and thus eliminated the "dead space" where items were "disappearing" into. Problem solved.

how I got rid of my paper towel additction
by: Anonymous

I finally got away from the paper towel addiction when I lost my job. Instead I got a 24 pack of Utopia towels on Ebay, got a large glass canister from Walmart that I put where the towels used to be. I roll up the towels and pop them into the covered glass container. I use them where I almost always used paper, except when cleaning up red wine, red anything, poultry and milk. It's great. You can cut up your old towels and do the same thing. Just don't buy the big bag of paper towels at a big box store to avoid temptation.

Discarded Kitchen Linens
by: Beth

First, I recommend deodorizing the cloths to remove any smells. Kitchen linens may have odors that are difficult to release. Ammonia is my favorite go-to for odor removal. Use only clear ammonia (never "sudsy" ammonia); reduce detergent by 50% using 1 cup of clear ammonia. (Hint: this will remove the stubborn odors that remain from smoking; even cigars). I use it frequently.

I definitely donate any items that are usable, but save the torn, discolored or badly used items for a friend who uses them for padding in the heavy-duty potholders that she sews for her church bazaars.The outsides are quite lovely and "hide" the worn and frayed cloth inside. As a precaution she has custom-made tags that she sews in a prominent spot on each item, declaring "Caution: NOT fire-retardant."

Donating old dishtowels
by: Anonymous

We always donate our old, worn out dishtowels to the local animal shelter. They used them for washing and drying off the animals, cleaning the place, etc. It didn't matter what the cloths looked like, they always appreciated the donation.

just use them, please
by: joan

With great courage, or something, I am giving myself permission to actually use the tea and dish towels bought around the world.

Hot pad/ glove, kitchen towel declutter
by: Carol

I quit using fabric hot pads and gloves and replaced them all with just two silicone hot pads and two silicone oven mitts. I wash off most spills in the sink and occasionally run them thru the dishwasher mitts on top rack and pads rolled up in the flatware basket.

I don't keep miscellaneous "decorative" towels. I buy either white hand towels or white bar towels in bulk 1-2 dozen at a big box store. I can sterilize them in hot water and bleach, stack them all neatly together on a shelf. Less expensive and more useful, and emotionally easier to toss when worn out.
I love neat, orderly and useful things when I can easily achieve and maintain them.

deep linen close shelves
by: Betty

Our linen closet has very deep shelves, which meant things got pushed to the back and lost. I repurposed some rectangular laundry baskets as "drawers" and now I can just pull one out, get what I need, and push it back in place!

by: Anonymous

Check with your local shelter. Many of them welcome old towels, blankets, etc.

Decluttered cloths
by: Suzanne

My brother and his wife bought us a lovely pile of tea-cloths and glass cloths for Christmas. So we will (today was not the day!) have a lot of fun sorting out our tea towels on Sunday. All the old ones with holes appearing will be perfect for my husband to make use of in his garage/workshop or depending on the material can be used for shining up the windows. By the time my husband has finished with them, they will be unrecognizable.

I also have some seasonal ones, that I am sure go way back and maybe it is time that they went to someone else who could make better use of them than me as they are as good as new. I can no doubt find a few more to go with them as well. Thank you for a great project, we are in for a lot of fun.

What to do with too many kitchen towels
by: Laurie S.

If your hand towels are worn out or you just have too many, please keep in mind the many animal shelters in your local areas. They are ALWAYS in need of theses for numerous things within their facility. Bathing, bedding, grooming, holding, clean up, and that list goes on and on. They welcome these donations!

Dish cloths and kids
by: Anonymous

With young kids I have to have a lot! We use one for dishes one for hands and one for the table at least once a day! We have about 20 and run out at least once a week!!

Looks Great Kelli
by: Maria

What a great idea to roll them up to take less room. Nice Job!

Dish cloths under the sink??
by: Anonymous

I'm thinking of moving my dish cloths and towels from a dedicated drawer to a basket under the sink. It seems like most people either have these items in a separate drawer or cabinet. Is there a reason not to put them under the sink?

Give 'em to a bride!
by: Sara's daughter

My mother of blessed memory loved to give bridal showers, especially for brides who had no family in town. She'd cut up old, worn-out dish or bath towels and put together a package of nice rags. She'd wrap it in pretty bridal paper and present it to the bride along with other practical gifts at the shower. The one thing a bride doesn't think of is having rags to use, so the brides all loved this!

Uses for old towels
by: Anonymous

Take towels in good condition to you local animal shelter.

Donate towels
by: Anonymous

My children’s daycare accepts old towels to wipe down the play equipment as well as for cleaning up large spills.

Worn out tea towels
by: Figen

I’m decluttering my whole house since January. This is harder than I thought. With the worn out tea towels I use it for dusting or clean the window ceilings for one use and then I throw them out.

Recycle Worn Out Towels
by: Tia

In my city, the Goodwill accepts cotton "rags" for recycling. If I don’t need any more cleaning cloths after decluttering my towels and dishcloths, I bag them up, mark the bag "rags" and take them to the Goodwill along with the other items I am donating for re-sale.

Donate de-cluttered towels
by: Noel

Old towels and linens may be donated to your local animal shelter. Be sure to call first to ask what types of donations they accept.

Donate purged towels, rags
by: Cindy

Many vets or animal rescue organizations will be very happy to take these items!

donate as rags
by: Jenni

The super worn and stained towels, send them off to Goodwill in a bag marked rags; they will recycle them.

Use for old dish towels & dish cloths
by: Anonymous

I have found these to be useful to keep at back door for wiping my small dog's wet or muddy paws. Also, wiping/drying off her face.

Donate to an animal shelter
by: Amy

If your dishcloths are relegated to the rag bin, donate them to your local animal shelter. They always need them for bedding or cleaning.

Idea for how to reuse these worn towels
by: SherylLynn

You can put all those worn towels to good use by making an outdoor sanctuary for any Ferrell cats that you might see in your area. Take a plastic tote and set a styrofoam cooler inside. Cutout entry way. Stuff all your old towels between plastic Tote and the styrofoam. Plus use any insulation materials lying around. Use any of your old worn out bath towels and make thick a snuggly bed inside the styrofoam cooler. Put the lids on tight. I saw this idea on FB and thought I would share.

seasonal towel storage
by: Anonymous

I like the idea of keeping seasonals with the decorations. Works for me because I have smaller plastic boxes with lids and enough room. Except Christmas which has a large lidded tub and room enough for towels, cloths, apron and hot pads. Growing up, my mother kept a cloth flour sack for clean rags. They were also our bandages for cuts and scrapes!

Donate to Church or Shelter Kitchen
by: Charlotte

When we help cook for church functions, we bring home the dirty dishtowels and dishcloths and wash them and return the next Sunday. The collection is often rather sad, so this is a good place to donate.

recycling kitchen towels
by: Anonymous

We have a fabric recycler in town; they will take any household linens that do not have rubber backings (like some small rugs do). If there is metal trim (grommets, snaps) I just cut that part off.

seasonal towels
by: Jan Bittner

I use my Christmas towels & wash/dish clothes, both bath & kitchen, to wrap my Christmas breakables in when packing them away at the end of the Christmas season. They just need a gentle wash cycle to refresh when I unpack them.

I reverse this during Christmas, using my regular towels & wash/dish clothes to wrap any breakables I put away for the Christmas season. This saves lots of cupboard and drawer space.

Repurpose as rags
by: Melly

We repurpose older "non-show" towels as cat puke/pee/poop rags or for cleaning the bathrooms/mirrors/windows. We use them once to clean the mess, and then launder them. We have a special pile of these, and it cuts down on using napkins or paper towels.

Basket to the rescue
by: Sue B

I was able to find a pretty basket with a hinged handle for my kitchen linen holder. The bottom of the basket is nailed to the cupboard beside my sink. Cloths go inside the basket, and the current dish towel hangs on the handle. I love that it takes up zero drawer space and keeps my linen within reach.

Dish towels and hand towels
by: Karen

In my dish towel and dish rag drawer we are now keeping micro fiber towels to dry our hands during the day. I keep both kinds of towels out in a basket and was going to the closet every morning to get a clean hand towel. My husband looks at me and asks why I don’t put enough for a week in the dish towel drawer? So I did. I love that he is being a part of decluttering and organizing now to make our lives easier. He is also having great ideas. As they say.... two heads are better than one.

humane society loves old towels
by: Anonymous

Our local humane society welcomes old rags, towels (including bath towels), and sheets and blankets for the animals to sleep on.

by: Debi

What I have to do is for items such as towels, blankets etc which are just a little good and then you feel like Wow...I can't get rid of these. However in this county in Florida we have some really great animal shelters who have a need for things like this and are very pleased with it.

Towel decluttering
by: Roberta

The Humane Society is always in need of towels - rugs and blankets too.

Have loved this sliding drawer inside drawer
by: AW

Many great ideas here! Thanks to everyone. I did this about a year ago so don't have 'before' pics. There is almost always space above the top of a drawer. This takes 1, 1 X 3 board, a thin board for the bottom and 4, shelf pins (and small nails and wood glue). I did this myself but if you're not comfortable with a drill and saw, talk someone into making it for you! I can't give dimensions, because it depends on the drawer you use. Measure carefully for how much space you have, especially width and height. Subtract 1/8th inch from your total width for the width of your new sliding drawer. It went together very quickly. I made a second for my beside table in bedroom.

Ideas for old towels
by: juicy fruit

You can use old towels, just save them up in a huge bag or as you get them in the reject pile cut in strips and braid them into a braided rag rug. These are good for entrance mats dog beds and even bath mats.

Old dish towels
by: Rhonda

Pet rescues need old towels, so donating to them is another way to get rid of the ones you don’t want.

Tea towels that don't absorb
by: Jo

I also declutter those tea towels that don't dry well. You know the ones that no matter how many times you wash them and no matter what you wash them in they are almost water repellant.

repurpose old towels and dish cloths
by: Anonymous

Cut down to pot holder size and sew fabric on both sides.

Another towel and rag idea
by: Laura

When a young person moves into their first apartment, my housewarming gift is a bucket full of basic cleaning supplies, a sponge mop, and a plastic bag of cleaning rags. They may have nice new linens, but few have the rags they won't mind getting really dirty! If you have excess nice towels you can include those too.

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