Heating a Washcloth without Losing Your Soul

Where I live, wasting water is akin to eating baby seals. With that in mind, waiting to get hot water at my kitchen sink becomes a soul-wrenching experience. However, I need hot washcloths roughly 73 times a day.

Hot washcloths greatly decrease cleaning time while increasing cleaning effectiveness. While there are many things to do with the “waiting for it to heat” water – filling a watering can for houseplants or the dogs’ water bowl, washing a not-too-dirty pot – many times, my plants and dogs are well watered, my pots are all clean, and I still need a hot washcloth.

So here’s a quick tip on overcoming this existential quandary:

Plus, this gives me one of the three powerhouse tools for the safest and most effective cleaning: Heat. Attack messes with the triple punch of cleanliness: thermal, mechanical, chemical.  (Bear in mind that “chemical” means something that cleans on a molecular level, which includes Dr. Bronner’s Castile soaps and Sal Suds.) What this looks like for me is Dr. Bronner’s and a hot, microfiber cloth.

24 thoughts on “Heating a Washcloth without Losing Your Soul

  1. Was thrilled to see that you use the microfiber cloths Lisa!

    During the radio show I mentioned toward the beginning how a product I found at the Green Festival changed my life and it was the microfiber cloths.

    Wish I would have had these products when cleaning houses for a living. They have saved me so much time and clean better than anything else. Just start with your glasses to SEE for yourself. Lol You will be able to see better out of your glasses.

    Now more time to get my exercise in.

    Thanks for the tip. I started using a collapsable tub to capture the water water waiting for hot and then taking it out to water plants, but your idea is great for when you just want it hot like to wash you face.

    Have to wash my dogs face after he eats or rubs on something else. This tip would be perfect for those times as well!

    So important to save water everywhere. Good to get in the habit of not wasting.

  2. Here in Sacramento, CA we’re really starting to think about saving water more than we ever had before – this is one of the tricks I just love. I use a warm washcloth on my face when I’m having an acne breakout and this is how I warm it.

    I actually started using the microwave to warm wet towels when I saw how my Nana’s assisted living facility ladies would heat up a damp bath towel on a low power setting to make an enormous heating pad for the residents. Not water-saving but much safer than leaving someone with an electric heating pad.

  3. Hi Ann – Awesome tips! Thanks for sharing and your loyalty through the years!

    Hi Chris – Water hardness doesn’t affect the Sal Suds. Are you using the microfiber cloths? That’s my best trick in streak-free cleaning. Also, consider diluting your Sal Suds solution even further.

    Hi Yvonne – None of our products contain aloe vera, so you’re good on that front.

    All the best,

  4. I have a son that is allergic to aloe Vera.. Yes aloe so we would like to know is this safe for him?

  5. I used your formula for the Sal Suds for a general cleaner. It left streaks on my fridge. Perhaps my water is harder. Should I use purified water? Would that help?

  6. GREAT IDEA! I remove my facial cleanser with a hot, damp washcloth, so I will get to use your microwave trick every day. And I think I’ll take my extra microwave (inherited, almost new) out of the attic and put it on the landing near the bathroom upstairs.

    Here’s what I do with water that I’ve run into the sink: I keep an empty plastic gallon milk container under the faucet. If it’s just plain water (e.g., it was run to get hot or cold) it’s good for filling birdbaths. When I wash my hands over the container, I can use that water for filling the washing machine, flushing the toilet, adding more water to the toilet because I never think the level is high enough, rinsing out compost containers, watering plants of course, filling pots or bowls that I’m soaking until they get washed…

    I really enjoy your newsletters and admire your activism. We’ve been using the peppermint liquid soap since back when it was the only one.

  7. Hi md Kennedy – No one’s saying you can’t put a microwave in your bathroom… I’m thinking of putting the coffee maker in mine.

    Hi Rachel – Yep! That’s it. Just a quick tip there.

    Hi Deb – Yes, Sal Suds works very well in cold water.

    Hi Kathy – Granite is fairly impervious to acids, unless we’re talking the hydrofluoric type. However, over time, even water will etch into granite, which is why there are those granite sealers to use periodically.

    Hi Gayle – You have identified the issue precisely. When you dilute the soap, especially that much, you are diluting the essential oil. It will not be as strong and will fade quickly. This does not affect the efficacy of the soap solution, though. You can always add more essential oils to the solution. The amount varies with the type, but I commonly add tea tree essential oil at an amount of 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. per quart of solution.

    Hi AB and Tom – You two don’t miss a beat! I also looked into this very issue of microwave safety. My concern was sparked by my first pregnancy, which made me analyze many things I had previously used unthinkingly. The two findings I found assuring about microwaves is that the type of radiation used in them differs fundamentally from the ionic radiation used in x-rays and such. It does not have the cancer-causing capability and there is no residue. The primary way microwave radiation can injure a person is by its ability to heat. With a home microwave, the only way a person would come into direct contact with the microwave radiation is either by the door’s being open, which shouldn’t be possible, or by a leak either in the seal of the door or through a weak door material. If a microwave is very old, these leaks are more probable. With a microwave that is newer and in good shape, there is a double insulator and the chances of leakage are exceedingly slight.

    All that being said, I think it’s a fabulous quality of life issue NOT to use a microwave. I love the slow living idea of only having a toaster oven or conventional oven. If you don’t have one, then your path to a hot washcloth without running the sink water would be to heat a teapot of water on your stove (not to a scalding temperature) and pour the hot (not scalding) water into a bowl and dunk your washcloth in that.

    All the best,

  8. Lisa- I hate to be “that guy” but apparently microwave radiation is terrible for you- and especially bad if you are in the same room when one is on. Even worse if you are standing in front of one while it is on. Not to mention all of the negative effects on the food that gets “cooked” in one. Do a search for it. I’ve been using a combo of my toaster oven, and my regular oven ever since I found out about the bad effects. It takes a little longer, sometimes a lot longer…but the food always tastes better, and there is never radiation. Just a thought…

  9. Brilliant! I have that same problem because in my 50’s era house because the hot water heater is out in a utility space and the water has to flow to and from it under a concrete slab (the carport floor). I hope to replace it with an on-demand system installed in the hall closet so I am not wasting so much water.

  10. I’ve noticed that my castile soap plus water that I keep to clean with that after 2 weeks or more gets a weird funky smell. So I usually try to use it quickly or throw it down the drain. I’m not sure what type of essential oils that I could add or how much to mask the smell. I’m probably the only person that doesn’t like lavender. Thank you for all you do.

  11. bAM, quick and easy, i like it…might i add to make sure you are not standing too close to the microwave when turned on. 😉

    • Vinegar is an acid so it should not be used on granite or any natural stone

    • Yes. I use it and find that it works great. I use 1-2 tablespoons per load. That is for clothes that have been worn under normal circumstances. If you were to wash, say, an apron covered in b-b-q grease then I would guess maybe a little more would be needed.

  12. Video now there – thanks! Great idea – just wish I had a microwave in my bathroom! 🙂

  13. We’re working on why the video isn’t appearing. Stay tuned.

    Amy – Yes, 30 seconds on full power.

    Deb – I agree!

    All the best,

  14. I love Sal Suds as a household cleaner it’s the best and it gets everything very clean and it goes very far. It works well in cold water. It’s retail price is very cheap for its great quality and going power.

    • It’s not loading for me either but based on some of the other comments the only thing I can imagine is putting a wet cloth in the microwave for 30 seconds?

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