Fun and easy to make, dishcloths and washcloths can be whipped together in a few hours from scrap yarn you may have lying around the house. We can never have too many of them, as they’re as handy for mopping up spills as they are for doing dishes, and they can be used as cleaning cloths once they start to get a bit ratty. You can make pretty ones to give away as gifts, use yarn in your own kitchen or bathroom colors so they match the rest of your decor, and experiment with a variety of different shapes and patterns—the sky is the limit with these babies. Most importantly, these cloths will last for years, and can help you wean yourself off that paper towel habit.
What You’ll Need:
- Cotton yarn
- Crochet hook or knitting needles in the gauge listed on your yarn (or a bit larger, if you’d like a looser, lacier weave)
When you’re making dishcloths or dish towels, remember that it’s generally best to use cotton yarn: it’s absorbent and sturdy, and will maintain its integrity in hot water. Additionally, it dries quickly, can be tossed in with the rest of your laundry, and if you dry it outside on a line, the sun will disinfect your clean dishcloths rather gorgeously. You can also use cotton-soy blends or hemp yarn, but I can’t vouch for those personally as I’ve never tried them myself.
These cloths can be made as simply or ornately as you wish. If you’re a novice knitter or crocheter, you can make a very simple piece just by using a single type of stitch, or—if you’re feeling adventurous—this could be a perfect opportunity for you to venture out of your comfort zone and experiment with different stitches. After all, if you’re just making these for yourself, the only people who’ll see them will be those doing dishes or bathing at your place. Cotton is easy to work with and the stitches are very clear to see, so it’s understandable why dishcloths and granny squares tend to be people’s first projects.
More experienced fiber fiends can get a little more creative with patterns, and either throw these cloths together with a variety of impromptu stitches, or find pretty patterns to play with. Both novices and pros can find any number of patterns online: either do a Google search for “dishcloth pattern”, or head to any number of knitting/crocheting sites to look for one you like. My favorite go-to site is Ravelry, where a single search for “dishcloth” yields nearly ten thousand pattern options.
This knit dishcloth pattern from The Craft Floozy is perfect for a novice knitter, as the double moss stitch is super simple to create, but has a very pretty texture.
- Worsted Weight 100% cotton yarn
- Needles: Size 6/5 mm
- CO 43 stitches
- Knit 3 rows
- Row 1: k4, *p1, k1, rep from * to last 3 sts, k3
- Row 2: k3, p1, *k1, p1, rep from * to last 3 sts, k3
- Row 3: repeat row 2
- Row 4: repeat row 1
- Repeat Rows 1-4 a total of 14 times
- Knit 3 rows
Some people find crocheting to be faster and easier than knitting, and that single hook can certainly be a lot more user-friendly! This basic “granny square” dishcloth from Favecrafts whips up quickly.
- Worsted weight 100% crochet yarn
- Hook: Whatever is listed on your yarn. When in doubt, a size 6/5 mm hook is a good standby.
*Note: Ch 5 at beg of rnd counts as dc and ch 2.
- Ch 5. Join with sl st to form a ring.
- 1st rnd: Ch 5. (3 dc. Ch 2) 3 times in ring. 2 dc in ring. Join with sl st to 3rd ch of ch 5.
- 2nd rnd: Sl st in next ch-2 sp. Ch 3 (counts as dc). (2 dc. Ch 2. 3 dc) in same ch-2 sp. [Ch 1. Miss next 3 dc. (3 dc. Ch 2. 3 dc) in next ch-2 sp] 3 times. Ch 1. Join with sl st to top of ch 3.
- 3rd rnd: Sl st in each of next 2 dc and ch-2 sp. Ch 3 (counts as dc). (2 dc. Ch 2. 3 dc) in same ch-2 sp. [Ch 1. Miss next 3 dc. 3 dc in next ch-1 sp. Ch 1. (3 dc. Ch 2. 3 dc) in next ch-2 sp] 3 times. Ch 1. Join with sl st to top of ch 3.
- 4th rnd: Sl st in each of next 2 dc and ch-2 sp. Ch 3 (counts as dc). (2 dc. Ch 2. 3 dc) in same ch-2 sp. [(Ch 1. Miss next 3 dc. 3 dc in next ch-1 sp) twice. Ch 1. (3 dc. Ch 2. 3 dc) in next ch-2 sp] 3 times. Ch 1. Miss next 3 dc. 3 dc in next ch-1 sp. Ch 1. Join with sl st to top of ch 3. (Four 3-dc groups on each side of square, including corner groups).
- Rep last rnd 4 times more, having 1 more 3-dc group on each side of square on next and every following rnd. Seven 3-dc groups on each side of square.
- 9th rnd: Ch 1. 1 sc in each dc and 3 sc in corner ch-2 sp around. Join with sl st to first sc. Fasten off.
If you have any favorite patterns for these cloths, feel free to share them in the comments section below!
An avid permaculture gardener, locavore, and novice (but enthusiastic!) canner, Lana Winter-Hébert joins Inhabitat after spending the last decade working as a writer and event guru for non-profit/eco organizations. She has contributed to both print and web-based media for clients across North America and Europe, and is slowly plodding her way through her first novel-writing attempt. Born and raised in Toronto, she has given up city life and moved to the wilds of rural Quebec with her husband, where they collaborate on graphic design projects for their company, Winter-Hébert. Their new, rustic lifestyle is chronicled in her two personal blogs: 33 Leagues from Mount Royal, and The Green Pigeon, where she delves into the ins and outs of homesteading and self sufficiency in the Great White North. When she isn’t writing or delving into artstuffs, Lana can be found reading, wrestling with various knitting projects, or tending her garden.