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What Is a Washcloth For? Using It for Yourself & Your Baby the Right Way

baby washcloth
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Parachute Team
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Bath and hand towels need almost no explanation. But if washcloths have you baffled, you're not alone. So what is a washcloth exactly, and what are washcloths used for? Furthermore, are washcloths necessary when you have other bath linens?

Read on for answers, along with insight into why washcloths are a go-to for both adults and littles and what to look for when buying them.

What Is a Washcloth?

A washcloth is the smallest type of bath linen. Sometimes called a flannel or washrag, it's made of the same materials as bath towels and is designed to be absorbent, soft and quick-drying. What are washcloths used for? Adults often use them for skincare, and there are also washcloths for babies.

Washcloths vs. Hand Towels

Washcloths are typically square and about 12 x 12 inches in size. Hand towels are a bit larger, measuring roughly 30 x 20 inches. The former is used for skincare on the face and body, while the latter is primarily for drying hands after washing. Although you could technically use a washcloth to dry your hands, it's likely too small to hang from a bathroom wall hook.

How to Use a Washcloth for Your Skincare Routine

What is a washcloth good for when it comes to skincare? In the shower, you can use it to clean your body better than you can with just soap and your hands. That’s because one major skincare perk of washcloths is that they provide gentle physical exfoliation for the face and body.

Just apply a small amount of body wash or soap to the washcloth, rub it together to create a nice lather, run it over your body, and rinse off.

When washing your face at the sink, it's important to dry it with clean fabric. In other words, don't reach for the hand towel multiple people use to dry their hands throughout the day. After patting your face dry, you can also use the washcloth to mop up inevitable splashes. 

Want more ideas? Here are 3 Skincare Rituals to Rejuvenate Your Routine.

How Many Skincare Washcloths Do You Need?

For sanitary reasons, you should use a washcloth for skincare no more than twice (once in the morning and once at night). While high-quality textiles will dry quickly, bacteria can still grow on the damp material, especially in humid bathrooms. Assuming you do laundry once a week, seven washcloths is a good place to start.

Additionally, if you remove makeup with a washcloth, you probably won't want to use it again the next day. To avoid staining light-colored bath linens, consider a black makeup towel set.

Your overnight visitors will appreciate a stack of fresh washcloths. Explore more Guest Bathroom Essentials in our blog, and learn How to Turn Your Own Bathroom Into a Spa.

How to Use a Baby Washcloth

What are washcloths used for in terms of baby care? Since newborns have delicate skin and don't typically get very dirty, you can use a damp washcloth to wipe down their body and face during the first few weeks.

When your little one reaches the infant stage, you can start bathing them in a baby bath tub. A washcloth will come in handy when cleansing their body and gently scrubbing their scalp. It can also help with rinsing to avoid getting soap in their eyes, as well as drying off afterward.

See our Baby Bath Guide for step-by-step guidance on bathing your child with a newborn washcloth.

How Many Baby Washcloths Do You Need?

It's good to have at least a few infant washcloths — four or five to start. That way, you'll always have a fresh one ready, and you can use extras as burp cloths for feeding your little one. Due to the small size, washcloths are usually the most affordable bath linens, and they don't take up much storage space.

For more recommendations, see our Newborn Essentials Checklist and guide to Welcoming a Baby and New Parents Home.

How to Wash and Care for Washcloths

Most washcloths are easy to care for and conveniently machine washable. You can toss them in your washing machine along with other household linens or the rest of your baby laundry. Cold or warm water is ideal, though hot water might be necessary to clean and disinfect soiled washcloths.

Like bath towels, washcloths are relatively thick and absorbent. To speed up the tumble-drying process and make them oh-so-soft and fluffy, toss in a few wool dryer balls.

These articles have step-by-step instructions and detailed insight into laundering washcloths:

What to Look for When Buying Washcloths

At this point, you know what a washcloth is used for, but what makes a high-quality design? Long-staple Turkish cotton and organic cotton are ideal materials for washcloths, hand towels, bath towels and other bath linens, as they're soft, absorbent and durable.

In terms of weave, terry cloth, flat-woven Fouta or ribbed are generally the best options. You should also look out for the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label, which certifies that a textile is free of chemicals that could harm you, your baby or the environment.

Read these blogs to dive deeper:

Where to Buy High-Quality Washcloths and Bath Linens

Now that you're up to speed on the different washcloth uses, consider ordering a few new ones. Shop the bath collection from Parachute for individual pieces and high-quality towel bundles, all naturally sourced, woven with care and Oeko-Tex certified for safety.

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