July 9, 2012

Fun Little Things: Color Coded Rags


We have a little ongoing dispute in our house, the great paper towel debate! It pains me to use paper towels whereas Big Smith enjoys the convenience and is fairly liberal with his paper towel usage. One of his points is that he is never sure with cloth rags what they were used for last (not so great to wipe our son's face with a towel last used to dry your own dirty hands), so he has to use a new one each time and that adds up to crazy volumes of wash.

I took his complaint to heart but was not deterred! Instead I doubled down and put into action this color coded system that lets us keep track of how we use our rags and cut down on paper and water waste. Is this verging on OCD? Yes. Why is that a problem? :)


First I made a list of the different ways that we use paper towels, dish towels, and wash clothes. For us it came down to kitchen, bath, highchair (yes- it needs it's own category because it does get that filthy), kid (as in wiping food off of him), and then I threw in a wildcard for any other uses that might crop up.

I found some basic wash cloths in the children's department at Ikea that are a perfect size and also have colored tabs so that I could assign each one to a different use and keep them straight. They were only four dollars for ten so I bought several packages. Another option would be to get different colored cloths, or if you were crafty you could sew custom tabs onto basic white wash cloths. I actually like white because I like to know if something is dirty or stained... back to that OCD thing again.


Generally it has been working out well, Big Smith does forget some of the color assignments (even with the list I posted on the kitchen chalkboard), but he always remembers that blue is for Little Smith and that cuts down on a lot of paper towels that were once used for wiping jam covered hands.


Once the rags get overly stained with food they get demoted to floor scrubbing duty which actually works out perfectly. Our dining/ playroom floor needs a weekly scrubbing (at least), and for some strange reason Little Smith loves to help out with this chore.


We still use paper towels more than I'd like, but this system has definitely helped and I am a fan of both order and all things rainbow colored so they make me happy stacked in the linen cabinet. I will say that they aren't the softest of wash clothes so if you like super soft for your baby's face you may want to go the DIY route.

A friend of ours who saw the list of colors and chores recently laughed at me for this craziness. He said I should just stop buying paper towels and that would be a lot easier! True, but I still think it's a good idea and I'm sticking to it. :)

15 comments:

  1. Nope. You are NOT crazy at all. In fact, this is a brilliant idea. We have 'kid washcloths' for diapering and then old cloth diapers (like the old school fold-a-ble ones) for cleaning house. :-)

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  2. ok. this is the best idea i've seen in quite a while! seriously. we don't use paper towels. like you said they just get over used for every little thing. plus i don't want to pay for them. buying toilet paper is annoying enough, so i just can't bring myself to add paper towels to household expenses. my husband hates that we don't have them. in fact, my mom gave him some for his birthday :D i thought that was hilarious! anyway, i think i may need to make some tabs for my cloths now.

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  3. love this idea!! those ikea towels are super cute when all lined up by color order.

    i also HATE paper towels and generally never buy them. i feel like I end up doing an extra laundry load or 2 a week with our cleaning rags, kitchen towels, cloth napkins, kids washclothes, etc, etc, but it's worth it to me.

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  4. Great idea! I find that in general, men have no common sense when it comes to what constitutes a paper towel clean-up, and what constitutes a washcloth clean-up. I'd run to the nearest IKEA now, if it weren't 7 hours away :(

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  5. I hate paper towels, toooo!! We've started using them again now that we don't have laundry in our home anymore but I'm looking forward to that changing soon. I love the color coded system. I've been keeping an Ikea list for the next time we head that way and I think those washcloths just made the cut! Great idea!

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  6. Oh wow you are sooooooooooo much more organized than I am-- Fantastic idea, now if I could only figure out how to get my brood to implement it!

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  7. I'm not NEARLY as organized as you are (in fact, I'll happily wipe my child's face (or my own) with a kitchen towel), but here's my OCD bit: I'm actually kind of offended by paper towels. My mother never EVER used paper towels, and as a child I was pretty scandalized when I'd go over to someone's house and there'd be a roll right there in the kitchen, all easy-access and disposable!

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  8. Great idea! I like the tags. We used colored wash clothes for clean up, and the white ones for ourselves. I think paper towels are sometimes necessary though. We are big time cloth napkin and wash cloth users. So our little paper roll lasts a super long time. We have had the same paper towel roll since we moved into this house, so about 6 months. But sometimes guests don't like wash cloths, so I keep the paper towel roll there for them.

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  9. I actually love your idea! But then, I am a bit OCD too! Not that it always shows at my house...:)

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  10. This is a great idea. I love the color coding thing. We have the Lazy People's version of color coding: All of our old washcloths (that are a different color than our new washcloths) became the cleaning rags. But we haven't yet found a system for specific things they can touch. This has largely eliminated our use of paper towels.

    I am still extremely weird about using paper towels or disinfecting wipes for cleaning the toilet though. I just feel that once it has touched a pee encrusted toilet (thanks, 2nd grade boy!) then I really don't want to use it again.

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  11. Thanks to everyone for all of the great comments- good to know I'm not totally nuts :) And Allison I am with you that the toilet is so icky it demands something disposable (or a dedicated rag for paper-saving-purists!).

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  12. I will admit that I love paper towels - sometimes it's just the best thing for the job - BUT, we use dedicated specific job rags for certain things in our house too. We keep certain rags in certain places but I sure do love your color coded system!!
    (OCD Club forever!)

    xo
    cortnie

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  13. Color coded towels, what a great idea! Oh, how I wish Ikea were closer to us, I am racking up quite a list of stuff to buy there.

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  14. You actually used a technique called in Manufacturing as "Mistake-Proofing". I am engineer I was looking for color-coded solutions and ended up seeing your engineering solution. You have some engineering skills! Lol.

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  15. Hi! Thanks for the great post "colored rags". it was very use full blog . i m following your blog.

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