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Clean rags and towels

Old 01-29-21, 07:32 AM
  #1  
Seb1987
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Clean rags and towels

I've been removing old grease from my bike with a bunch of rags/towels but now they are very filthy with old grease. I've been putting them in the washing machine, 3 times so far, and that does the trick.
But now I'm asking myself if I am destroying my washing machine. So how do you clean your old greased rags and towels? I would rather reuse than buy new ones consistently.

PS: I would ask this in a washing machine forum but that doesn't exist I think
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Old 01-29-21, 07:33 AM
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unterhausen
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I don't really get my rags too dirty, but I put them in the washing machine.
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Old 01-29-21, 07:40 AM
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I hand wash mine in the sink with dishwashing detergent, I do that 4 or 5 times and then discard.
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Old 01-29-21, 07:42 AM
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First you put the dirty rags in the garbage and then get the old even T-shirts from your closet and use them as rags. For wiping chains I use the blue (industrial strength) paper towels for the dirtiest part.
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Old 01-29-21, 07:50 AM
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Bucket and air dry for me too.
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Old 01-29-21, 08:18 AM
  #6  
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Been using Scott Shop Rags from Sam's Club for years. $14.00 for 350 industrial paper rags that are just as good as any rag I've used. They don't scratch the paint on the bike and they hold up really well when wet. I keep several of them in the van in case I need to work on the bike when away from home but have access to the van.
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Old 01-29-21, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I'd guess cleaning vs chucking them is probably a wash environmentally.
I see what you did there.
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Old 01-29-21, 08:26 AM
  #8  
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I'm really surprised how many have responded that they wash their shop rags. Mine get filthy with grease and gunk. I throw out two or three per week. I also don't wear anything with holes in it (except one wool cycling jersey), so have quite the renewable supply of old socks, undershirts, old towels and such, all stored in a bin. I tear the old towels into strips and squares. I use the folded/sewn edges as chainring and cassette floss. I can't imagine ever running out. But washing? That thought never crossed my mind.
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Old 01-29-21, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Seb1987 View Post
I've been removing old grease from my bike with a bunch of rags/towels but now they are very filthy with old grease. I've been putting them in the washing machine, 3 times so far, and that does the trick.
But now I'm asking myself if I am destroying my washing machine. So how do you clean your old greased rags and towels? I would rather reuse than buy new ones consistently.

PS: I would ask this in a washing machine forum but that doesn't exist I think
If I got black gunky grease in the drum of my wife's washing machine, I would be hung out to dry.
I buy white cotton wiping cloths and we both use them.
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Old 01-29-21, 08:52 AM
  #10  
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Get a reasonable size dry bag, put your rags in it with some soap and water, and strap it on you bike's rear rack when you ride. Make your bike do its own laundry!
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Old 01-29-21, 09:23 AM
  #11  
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I divvy up the workload between disposable rags and washable towels.

Shop rags, cheap cotton terry rags, or just old household rags clean up the gunky, greasy stuff like chains and cassettes. Those get thrown to rubbish.

Synthetic microfiber towels handle the rest of the cleaning duties, specifically, washing the rest of the bike and polishing/waxing/detailing. Those get machine washed (with Chemical Bros. towel refresher sometimes) and reused for same.
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Old 01-29-21, 09:25 AM
  #12  
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I keep a "rag bag" that old worn out, or non-fitting clothes, towels, wash cloths, etc. go into. I'll just cut a piece off to the size I need, and when done, throw it away. Before someone says it's not "environmentally friendly", the grease is going to end up somewhere, regardless if thru the washer or on a tossed rag, and the cloth I'm using will degrade.
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Old 01-29-21, 09:44 AM
  #13  
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I buy bulk cotton shop towels from Costco, use them until they're black with gunk and then chuck them. I try to prolong their life by handwashing them in my shop sink with Dawn periodically. Using a little GoJo without grit also dissolves the grease. It generally takes a month or two for a towel to get so dirty that it's unsuable.

I keep a clean microfiber towel I use for periodically cleaning brake rotors with alcohol, that one I do throw in the wash after using.
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Old 01-29-21, 09:48 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by Seb1987 View Post
I've been removing old grease from my bike with a bunch of rags/towels but now they are very filthy with old grease. I've been putting them in the washing machine, 3 times so far, and that does the trick.
But now I'm asking myself if I am destroying my washing machine. So how do you clean your old greased rags and towels? I would rather reuse than buy new ones consistently.

PS: I would ask this in a washing machine forum but that doesn't exist I think
Almost any auto store has throw away paper towels that wont mess up your wifes washing machine.
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Old 01-29-21, 09:51 AM
  #15  
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I throw mine away when they get too dirty to use effectively. Either that or my wife finds my rags and uses them. In that case, I use my old underwear and she leaves them alone.
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Old 01-29-21, 10:17 AM
  #16  
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Like others, I cut up old clothing. T-shirts, socks, boxers... Once they are no longer wearable, they go in the rag pile. I use them on the bikes until caked with grease, toss, and grab another.

Cotton Ts work best.
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Old 01-29-21, 10:30 AM
  #17  
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I buy a large order of cheap rags.

The clean ones I use to dry my bike, clean my rotors, stuff like that.

Once they are used I start using them to wipe my chain, a drop cloth or protective cloth when lubing, etc. They can be used as a drop for a while and I end up with a lot of rags that are greasy.

Once they get really bad I toss them.
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Old 01-29-21, 10:30 AM
  #18  
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I use paper towels and disposable rags for cleaning the bike. Putting them in YOUR washing machine will leave a greasy film on the inside. Then when you wash your cloths they will get dirtier than when they went in. You might not see it but it's there.

I restored cars as a hobby and have "mechanic" cloths that repel oil and grease. When I do wash them I first wipe the the tub and then do another wash with the machine empty, at a higher level, hot water and add bleach to clean the inside.

Washing greasy rags in the washing machine is like cleaning car parts in the dish washer and using the stove to cure paint.

Your wife will not be happy.
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Old 01-29-21, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
I use paper towels and disposable rags for cleaning the bike. Putting them in YOUR washing machine will leave a greasy film on the inside. Then when you wash your cloths they will get dirtier than when they went in. You might not see it but it's there.

I restored cars as a hobby and have "mechanic" cloths that repel oil and grease. When I do wash them I first wipe the the tub and then do another wash with the machine empty, at a higher level, hot water and add bleach to clean the inside.

Washing greasy rags in the washing machine is like cleaning car parts in the dish washer and using the stove to cure paint.

Your wife will not be happy.

Agree. Wouldn't you want cloths that absorb oil & grease?
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Old 01-29-21, 11:37 AM
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I chuck ‘em after they get nasty enough.
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Old 01-29-21, 11:44 AM
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An oily rag makes a great fire starter in the outdoor fire pit.
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Old 01-29-21, 11:44 AM
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Add me to list of folks who use old t-shirts till they get completely gunked up, then throw away.
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Old 01-29-21, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Add me to list of folks who use old t-shirts till they get completely gunked up, then throw away.
First to get used are the ones I have stained with wine.
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Old 01-29-21, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
Agree. Wouldn't you want cloths that absorb oil & grease?
No so you can wipe it off. if it absorbed it it would seep to your skin.
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Old 01-29-21, 01:27 PM
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My mom always washes my dirty rags.
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