In praise of terry cloth

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I suppose I’m going to be drummed out of the house cleaning corps for saying this, but I cannot stand microfiber towels and rags! The texture of the closely-packed synthetic fiber… its special laundering requirements… the way it swirls a spill around on a surface even though it is purported to be MORE absorbent than regular towels… can’t stand it!

BUT – in the interest of promoting what I love rather than tearing down what I dislike, I will instead expound for a moment on the joys and benefits of good old-fashioned terry cloth. Because I love terry cloth and use it exclusively for towels and washcloths in my home.

Pretty vintage terrycloth bath towels!

Why Terrycloth?

Terry cloth is absorbent! I can put a terry cloth kitchen towel down over a spill and instead of just spreading it around on the affected surface like synthetic microfiber, the towel actually absorbs the spill AND dries the surface at the same time. Genius!

Terry cloth can be washed with my other laundry! I can and do throw my terry cloth towels and washcloths in with all my other laundry and they come out with no residue from the other fabrics embedded in their fibers. By contrast, it’s recommended that you only wash microfiber with other microfiber – and I can promise you, I will NEVER have enough microfiber in my house to justify an entire load of laundry.

I love the large-scale floral motifs on so many vintage bath towels!

Terry cloth is snuggly! When I step out of the shower, I not only love the absorbency of my towels, I love their warmth. It feels great to surround myself with a terry cloth bath sheet because it stays put – it doesn’t slide all around my body like synthetic microfiber – and it holds in the warmth of the water from my shower.

Terry cloth is beautiful! Vintage terrycloth towels feed my vintage-loving soul with their nubby texture, floral motifs, and soft faded-over-time colors. I look for good gently used vintage towels on eBay, but also find a lot of them in the thrift stores.

Minimal Benefits of Microfiber

One of the alleged benefits of microfiber is that it works better as a cleaning cloth – supposedly the tiny “close” fibers clean better because they are “electrostatically charged” so they don’t need chemical cleaners. I certainly admit that terry cloth is not the best fabric for, say, a dusting cloth… but I use flour sack dish cloths for dusting furniture, sprayed with a little Lemon Pledge, and have done so ever since dusting was “my chore” as a kid. If using Lemon Pledge is wrong, I don’t wanna be right – I love the smell!

As for kitchen floors – I have tried using microfiber mops, and I just can’t stand them. I use a sponge mop with a little PineSol in the water, and I either let the floor air-dry or I run a terry cloth towel over it to pick up the remaining moisture.

Also love that touch of fringe at the bottom – so vintage!

Finally, the cleaning difference of microfiber does not outweigh the downsides for me – microfiber allegedly removes more bacteria. but I’m just not going to pay more for microfiber and deal with its special care needs for a six percent difference.

Terry cloth just has so much more vintage vibe! And yes, I buy them gently used off eBay, from thrift stores, and other secondhand sources!

For pure vintage loveliness, absorbency, easy care, and that wonderful “snuggle factor,” I’m sticking with terry cloth for my kitchen and bath.

How about you – Team Terry Cloth? Or Team Microfiber? Would love to know what you think!

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