Object Lessons: The Humble Cotton Cleaning Cloth by

Issue 12 · Spring Forward · March 25, 2014

Object Lessons: The Humble Cotton Cleaning Cloth

Issue 12 · Spring Forward · March 25, 2014

Before the advent of synthetic cleaning cloths and paper towels, the cotton cleaning cloth was the scullery maid’s weapon of choice when attending to a spill. The cloth was dampened slightly then pushed around the floor, using foot or bended knee, to clean up the area in question. These days, there's still no need to get out a bucket and mop (or armful of paper towels) when a cleaning cloth can perform the same duty with less fuss and waste. The cotton cleaning cloth is entirely presentable in its appearance. Tightly woven with a subtly attractive stripe, this cloth is most prized for its durability: it likes to be washed and actually improves with age. Which is more than you can say about its modern descendants. The classic is starting to make a comeback; here are five examples.

N.B.: This column is the first in a weekly series by designer Megan Wilson, owner of Ancient Industries and curator of the Remodelista 100, a collection of essential everyday objects presented in the Remodelista book. She is our favorite authority on enduring household designs and will be shedding light every week on a corner of the home, favorite discovery, or current obsession.

  Objects of Use floor cloth | Remodelista

Above: The 100-percent cotton Cleaning Cloth, 20 inches by 24 inches, is made in Sweden by Iris Hantverk and is available at Objects of Use in Oxford, England for £4.50.

Juniperseed Cloth/Remodelista

Above: A dozen Organic Unbleached Cotton Birdseye Cloths are $23 from Juniperseed Mercantile on Etsy.

  Labour and Wait floor cloth | Remodelista

 Above: The Cotton Floor Cloth, a 21-inch square, is available from Labour and Wait in London for £4.50.

Everyday Needs Cleaning Cloth/Remodelista

Above: From German company Burstenhaus Redecker, the 60-centimeter-by-80-centimeter cotton Cleaning Cloth is $12 NZD from Everyday Needs.

Woods Fine Linens Cleaning Cloth/Remodelista

Above: Traditional Woven Cotton Floor Cloths, measuring 53 centimeters by 53 centimeters, are £3 each from Woods Fine Linens.

Stay tuned for Megan Wilson's Object Lessons every Tuesday. Looking for more cleaning tips? Browse our Domestic Science posts, including Move Over, Mrs Meyer, and learn how to make your own Diamond-Bright Window Cleaner on Gardenista. 

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