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Old 07-11-08, 11:45 AM   #1
Flamadiddle
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Do I need to bother washing my greasy bike rags?

This may be a dumb question, but I haven't seen it addressed anywhere online thus far. I have quite a few greasy rags from cleaning and lubing my chain...should I be throwing them in the washer with the laundry, or do most folks just let them sit and not worry about it? Or...should I soak them in a bucket of degreaser and then hang them outside to dry?

Just wondering if I need to worry about cleaning my dirty bike rags. Kinda OCD, I know...
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Old 07-11-08, 11:56 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Flamadiddle View Post
This may be a dumb question, but I haven't seen it addressed anywhere online thus far. I have quite a few greasy rags from cleaning and lubing my chain...should I be throwing them in the washer with the laundry, or do most folks just let them sit and not worry about it? Or...should I soak them in a bucket of degreaser and then hang them outside to dry?

Just wondering if I need to worry about cleaning my dirty bike rags. Kinda OCD, I know...
Do the math.

Cost of a bucket of degreaser vs the cost of a rag;
Cost of rag vs. cost of buying replacement clothes for the ones you spoil in your washer with greasy rags; possible cost of new washer and/or divorce if a spouse's clothes are involved.

Do these rags have sentimental value?
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Old 07-11-08, 12:51 PM   #3
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Wash but not with any thing else and make sure they don't leave any grease in the washer when you're done. Don't waste 'em.
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Old 07-11-08, 01:02 PM   #4
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I have a 5-gal bucket that serves as my greasy rag bin. When it reaches a certain point, I fill it up with hot water and add some regular laundry detergent. Agitate with a 2x2 until I'm satisfied. The waste water gets dumped down the drain and I rinse 2-3 times, depending on how impatient I am. After ringing out as much as I can, these get tossed in the drier. Gets the rags clean enough to wipe more grease. The really soiled rags get throw in the bin.
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Old 07-11-08, 01:02 PM   #5
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A thrift store close to me always has Bags-of-rags for $1. These are cloths that do not sell or are damaged. They tear them once and pack in a bag. I just use up the rags and toss in the trash.
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Old 07-11-08, 01:12 PM   #6
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I've been washing greasy rags in my front loader for years. No ill effect the washer or the rags.
They get washed on hot with normal detergent and a splash of oxy clean. Never had anything else come out of the washer with grease or damage clothing in any way.
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Old 07-11-08, 01:15 PM   #7
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Found this: http://ask.metafilter.com/64215/Best...lean-oily-rags

Seems to have some good ideas. Think I'll just go with spraying them with Simple Green then washing them on hot with regular detergent. Definitely separately from clothes, though.
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Old 07-11-08, 03:12 PM   #8
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I just buy a 5-10# bag of rags at a carparts store and throw them out when there is more grease transferring from the rags than to it.
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Old 07-11-08, 09:12 PM   #9
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I wouldn't wash oily/greasy rags in the washing machine and then dry them in a dryer. Simply put, they could cause a fire. Usually it takes a good amount of this to cause a fire but I am not sure what the threshhold is.

As a retired Firefighter we were always told not to wash oily rags in a machine then dry them. I had to respond to a Convict camp where they washed up their oily firefighting clothes and set their laundromat on fire, total loss.

If you do wash your oily rags this way you could literally be playing with fire. I am sure there are many people here that have done it and are willing to poo poo the thought and say it is ok BUT, don't do it.

Handwashing and drying is fine as mentioned above but not the machine wash and dry.

If you are still in doubt, call your local fire house/chief and ask them.

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Old 07-11-08, 09:54 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by littlewaywelt View Post
I've been washing greasy rags in my front loader for years. No ill effect the washer or the rags.
They get washed on hot with normal detergent and a splash of oxy clean. Never had anything else come out of the washer with grease or damage clothing in any way.
This is what I do. Then I air dry them.

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I wouldn't wash oily/greasy rags in the washing machine and then dry them in a dryer. Simply put, they could cause a fire. Usually it takes a good amount of this to cause a fire but I am not sure what the threshhold is.
So would machine wash (front loader) and air dry also be risky, Steven?
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Old 07-13-08, 01:58 AM   #11
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A thrift store close to me always has Bags-of-rags for $1. These are cloths that do not sell or are damaged. They tear them once and pack in a bag. I just use up the rags and toss in the trash.
+1. C'ept here, they don't even charge the whole dollar.
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Old 07-13-08, 02:03 AM   #12
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I've been washing greasy rags in my front loader for years. No ill effect the washer or the rags.
They get washed on hot with normal detergent and a splash of oxy clean. Never had anything else come out of the washer with grease or damage clothing in any way.
Do you wear all black clothes?
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Old 07-13-08, 10:26 AM   #13
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Do the math.

Cost of a bucket of degreaser vs the cost of a rag;
Cost of rag vs. cost of buying replacement clothes for the ones you spoil in your washer with greasy rags; possible cost of new washer and/or divorce if a spouse's clothes are involved.

Do these rags have sentimental value?
I'm with ILTB on this one... I tried washing some shop rags once, and the greasy deposit on the inside of the washer drum took two more washings... plus the fumes were so strong there was no way I was going to throw them in the dryer.

Toss 'em. Rags are cheap.
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Old 07-13-08, 01:31 PM   #14
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I use an old hand towel that has never been washed and blue disposable shop towels for cleaning the chain and other messy jobs around the house...
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Old 07-14-08, 07:16 AM   #15
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I simply use old socks (that I've stock piled over the years) and toss them out when I've finished lubing the chain. I think I probably have another year or two of cleanings before I'm concerned about having more rags.
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Old 07-14-08, 07:22 AM   #16
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What about throwing greasy rags into the dishwasher?
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Old 07-14-08, 10:00 AM   #17
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Do you wear all black clothes?
hahaha.
I just make sure all our rags are washed separately. We use rags rather than paper towels, so once a week or every other week they all get washed.
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Old 06-11-16, 03:14 PM   #18
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Do the math.

Cost of a bucket of degreaser vs the cost of a rag;
Cost of rag vs. cost of buying replacement clothes for the ones you spoil in your washer with greasy rags; possible cost of new washer and/or divorce if a spouse's clothes are involved.

Do these rags have sentimental value?
So no clear answer so far in the thread...

But add this (OCD, Hell yes, but then can we NOT take this into account?)
Cost on our Planet (are we not passed even mentioning this since May 24 1997 (random date to say it has been a VERY long time))
- No clear answer here either, what is better:
* Grease in the water?
* Greasy rags in the dump?

So what I get from the thread is this:
- Hot water clean in the washer (I can't believe there is a fire risk there... not heating, justwater that is already hot...) I would really appreciate an confirmation on that from @FlyingAnchor.
- Hand drying.
- Re-use until rags fall appart...
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Old 06-12-16, 08:10 AM   #19
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Old cotton clothes, socks and tighty-whiteys are becoming rags. Used rags are becoming kindling in the back yard fire pit for a romantic evening with DH in front of the fire.
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Old 06-12-16, 09:19 AM   #20
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So no clear answer so far in the thread...

But add this (OCD, Hell yes, but then can we NOT take this into account?)
Cost on our Planet (are we not passed even mentioning this since May 24 1997 (random date to say it has been a VERY long time))
- No clear answer here either, what is better:
* Grease in the water?
* Greasy rags in the dump?

So what I get from the thread is this:
- Hot water clean in the washer (I can't believe there is a fire risk there... not heating, justwater that is already hot...) I would really appreciate an confirmation on that from @FlyingAnchor.
- Hand drying.
- Re-use until rags fall appart...
Sure there is an answer: Don't clean up grease stains, or better yet do not use grease on anything or wipe it off of anything. Save and preserve precious rags at all costs!
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Old 06-12-16, 11:16 AM   #21
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Not a dumb question after all. Lots of differing opinions despite some snotty remarks.
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Old 06-12-16, 11:31 AM   #22
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I do a rag wash about every year or two. Maybe twice the detergent, a second rinse. I've dried them in the dryer but will inspect the rags closely before I do it again based on FlyingAnchor's post. (Hand drying that many rags would be a pain.)

Simple Green wipe and the rinse cycle after (washer) or clean, damp towel (dryer) after.

Ben
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Old 06-12-16, 12:02 PM   #23
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Buy a few rolls of the Blue disposable shop towels..
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Old 06-12-16, 12:07 PM   #24
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My dad got his from the American Linen Supply? truck at his service stations. It helped.
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Old 06-12-16, 04:35 PM   #25
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Not a dumb question after all. Lots of differing opinions despite some snotty remarks.
How could anyone think that washing greasy rags with your clothes isn't a perfectly sensible thing to do? You are correct; some people even like to dress in rags. Save those rags, never can tell when you might need to wear them and there is a shortage of available rags.
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