Clorox, Lysol and other wipes make surface cleaning so convenient. You can wipe down the bathroom or kitchen in a few minutes. No need to pull out any other cleaning equipment. I like this one step cleaning. My kids also take on cleaning chores more readily when wipes or spray bottles are involved.
But we don’t need all of the chemicals, fragrances, waste and cost involved for a daily surface wipe down. I’ve searched the internet looking for ideas to make reuseable wipes as convenient as the commercial ones. Many suggest using heavy duty paper towels. You can control the chemicals, but the cost and waste seem about the same since I would not reuse those after wiping around the toilet following a 5 year old boy play date.
So I made a bucket-o-wet-rags, that I’m calling “Reusable Wipes,” and it’s been working out well. I think you’d like it too. You don’t need a fabric stash, just rags safe for the surfaces you intend to clean. Old baby washcloths would work well, I used some flannel and terry cloth I had around from a past baby bib/burp cloth project. I like the texture options and absorbancy. Pre-wash your fabrics and make sure they are color safe before using them. Cut the fabric to a size convenient for cleaning. You may need to finish edges or use pinking shears if you choose a fabric that tends to fray. You want enough rags that you don’t have to think about refilling your bucket for a while.
You can use any sealable watertight container that won’t react to your cleaner, can easily fit your hand in and out of, and preferably is large enough to fit enough rags that you don’t have to refill it often but small enough to fit in a convenient and accessible location (like under a sink). I had the bin from pretzel rods, but larger glass jars, tupperware-like containers, or recycled containers would work.
Partially fill your container with a liquid cleaning solution of your choice that is safe for surfaces you will be cleaning – vinegar and water, baking soda, just water, diluted commercial solutions, whatever your pleasure as long as it doesn’t need to be rinsed off the surface afterwards. Toss in your rags. You don’t want so much liquid that the rags are swimming, or you’ll lose the convenience of just grabbing one, wiping down and being done, since you’ll have to stick your arm into a cold wet bucket of rags and squeeze a rag out and/or dry off your surface when you are done. Once your rags are damp, you can pour out the extra solution if you prefer.
I generally toss the rags in the hamper with the regular laundry or into the washer to wait for the next load after I use them. If you do this, make sure you’ve chosen a cleaning solution that will not impact the rest of the materials in your washer load. When the rags come out, I leave them piled up on the dryer or near the other cleaning supplies until the bucket is empty. When the bucket is empty, I start over again. You could take them rags damp from the washer and throw them back into the bucket, no need for drying. I use Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder which, from cloth diaper experience, rinses out of fabrics well with my washer and water supply, but if your rags become stinky over time, you may want to google search and follow instructions for “stripping cloth diapers” since it’s likely that your cleaning solution and/or laundry soap isn’t fully rinsing out (you may notice this problem with your bath towels too!)
When you are done cleaning, replace the lid on your container and it’s ready for next time.