Dirty Tea Towels

dirty tea towel by warbeck and cox1

Whilst we spend much of our time lovingly designing and producing tea towels here at Warbeck & Cox there are others in our house that don’t seem to hold them in such high esteem.

Often I discover them in a dirty, soggy pile by the washing machine, in a damp, stinky bucket under the stairs or simply left where a foot has used them to mop up a spillage on the floor somewhere. It has, I’m afraid to report also been known to find them lurking in the garage having been used to wash the car wheels!

At the very start of W&C I felt slightly saddened that no one seemed to care about my ‘special’ textiles until I realised that there are some things that are just not worth stressing about.  Tea towels are for using.  Full stop.

The long faces now gone, I have set about learning how to launder them effectively.  With an almost ban on almost all domestic chemical cleaners in our house I have practised with all sorts of products and thought I would share my discovery with you.

What you need.

  • A pile of smelly, dirty, stained tea towels and napkins
  • A large saucepan
  • A scoop of vanish stain remover
  • A lemon
  • A wooden spoon

So, every now and again, when I get a whiff of kipper from my tea towel or something equally revolting or we’ve had a BBQ and some little rascal has left spare rib juice and BBQ sauce all over a napkin I gather them up and head for the cleaning cupboard.  Filling my saucepan with luke warm water and a spoon or 2 of vanish I chuck them in and leave for a couple of days giving them the odd stir.  I should mention that I have been known to forget about them completely and remember my soaking cloths a week or 2 later with no negative results! When I feel that they’ve had long enough to soak I halve the lemon, pop it in the pan and straight onto the Aga where I will gently simmer for anything between half an hour and an hour.

tea towel cleaning

Taking the pan off the heat I leave it to cool before bunging them in the washing machine along with my other whites.   REMEMBER NOT TO BURN YOURSELF WHEN TRANSFERRING THE CLOTHS – THE WATER WILL STAY HOT FOR LONGER THAN YOU THINK.

Pouring the remaining yuckie liquid (and it is truly disgusting) down the sink and chucking the lemons in the bin I give the saucepan a REALLY good wash so that my bolognaise doesn’t taste of vanish and lemons the next time I use it!   Once out of the machine the your hard efforts should pay off with delicious, bright, clean and fresh smelling tea towels and if there are any stubborn remaining stains then why not hang the tea towels out on the washing line and let the sun bleach them?

The observant of you may ask why we therefore have care labels that say to wash our products at 50 degrees? Well, as with all printed natural fabrics high laundry temperatures will eventually fade the print but as we said before, we think that tea towels are for using, so if they fade a little, then so be it.  We’d rather they were clean, odourless and free from bacteria.

Happy Domesticity Folks!

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