It’s great to see eco-friendly beauty products becoming mainstream and more readily available. I don’t use many products myself, but we do use a lot of facewashers in our house. I mean, a LOT. Sometimes it feels like half the laundry pile is just made up of washcloths. We’ve tried to use re-usable cloths instead of baby wipes whenever possible, and personally I find a good old fashioned facewasher to be the only exfoliator I need for my face (so long apricot scrub!).
I’ve spent some time researching crochet washcloths – looking for different stitches, experimenting with different yarns, and trying out some patterns – and thought I could share some of that research with you, including some free patterns I’ve found and tips for making your own if you want to try.
Why crochet washcloths are a great project
Some people might hear the phrase ‘crochet washcloth’ and think daggy granny housewares (toilet roll doily dolly anyone?) but they’ve had a resurgence of late, among the eco-aware and maker community in my neighbourhood at least. I reckon a modern take on crochet cloths is a great craft project and I’ll tell you why:
1. It’s a great way to learn
Firstly, it’s a great way to learn a new stitch. I reckon the best way to learn a new design is just to do it over and over until the method is cemented in your mind. If you’re going to practice and make a swatch, why not turn that swatch into something useful? Add a quick and easy border round it and voila your stitch practice has become a finished item! It will also give you great practice at getting straight edges in your crochet. For this reason I think washcloths are an excellent first project for beginners.
2. A quick & easy project
Secondly, washcloths are a quick and easy project that gives you fast results. Unless you’re doing a quite involved and complicated stitch, you can finish a washcloth in one sitting. Just the thing for when you don’t have time for a big project or you’ve been working on something for a long time and want something small for your next project – or side project – that will work up in a jiffy.
3. Crochet on-the-go
Thirdly, I reckon a washcloth is a handy project on-the-go as it’s small enough to fit in your handbag easily and give you something to do when stuck in a waiting room, at school pick-up or on the bus (or anywhere really!), that you can put down just as quickly and not lose your place.
4. A thoughtful gift idea
The fourth reason I think crochet washcloths make great projects is that they make nice gifts. You know I love a handmade pressie! Bundle it up with some yummy handmade soap sourced from your local market and some jute string or ribbon for a gift made with love. You could also have some on hand for unexpected last-minute gifts or those who are difficult to buy for.
5. They’re eco-friendly
And lastly (but certainly not least!) it’s good for the environment. Many commercially-made dishcloths are made from nasty fibres that don’t break down in landfill very well or end up in our oceans. Cloths made from cotton or other natural fibres that can be washed and re-used many times over will reduce harmful waste. It’s one of those small swaps that could make a big difference if enough people make the choice.
Tips for making your own crochet washcloths
So have I convinced you to have a go at making a crochet cloth? If you do want to have a go, I’ve collated some patterns for you to try (links below). Here are a few pointers before you get started.
What yarn to use?
My recommendation for a facewasher or body cloth is a 100% cotton yarn. Pure cotton is soft on the skin, holds water well without stretching too much, and is durable enough to withstand being washed over and over.
I experimented with a bamboo-cotton blend and although the yarn was incredibly soft and still holding up well after lots of use in the shower, the strands split so easily while I was making it that it looked rather messy, certainly not good enough to give as a gift. However, I used the same bamboo/cotton blend to make a facewasher for my kid which turned out slightly better, and she loves how soft and luxurious it feels, so maybe it holds up better with certain stitches?
Mercerized or non-mercerized?
I have to admit I had no idea what mercerized meant or what the difference was. I discovered that mercerized cotton has been through a process that makes it stronger, more shiny, and easier to dye, meaning the colours are richer and don’t fade as quickly. It withstands washing well, and is more resistant to mildew and lint.
It also means though that mercerised cotton isn’t as soft. Some knitters and crocheters prefer mercerised for making handtowels and dish scrubbies but it seems non-mercerized cotton is preferable for body washcloths because it’s softer and more absorbent.
I must say I definitely preferred working with the non-mercerised cotton as it just feels so much nicer and more gentle on the skin.
Which pattern should you use?
The simple answer is whatever you like! Play around with different patterns and textures to discover what you like best. Different stitches will vary in thickness and flexibility, so that may affect which stitch you’d prefer to use. A thicker, more dense stitch might be better for dishcloths for example, if you’re planning to use it to scrub plates etc. Whereas a crochet fabric with looser stitches and more gaps is likely to produce a more stretchy fabric that is more flowy and softer on your skin.
I’ve linked to some patterns below which have been created for different purposes and use different stitches to create different textures. Try a few to find your favourite stitch for the type of washcloth you want to make.
A simple trick for making it square
A quick tip I read somewhere for making sure your cloth is square without having to keep measuring it, is to just fold opposite corners together and see if the sides line up. If not, adjust your number of rows accordingly. I’ve found this works a treat – when I wondered if my square was finished, a quick corner to corner check shows immediately if I need to add another row or two.
Finish with a border
Once you’ve ensured that your cloth is nice and square, I’d recommend finishing it off with a simple border. Just a quick whip around with one or two rounds of single crochet will give your washcloth a nice finished look and feel. If you’re a fan of vintage style you could try a decorative stitch like shell stitch around but my personal preference is to stick with single crochet for a simple modern look.
You’ll need to create new stitches up the two sides of your square (where you’ve been turning at the start and end of each row) by working single crochet into the sides of those first/last stitches in each row. This isn’t difficult but is the reason I like to do two rounds for my borders as one never looks quite finished on those sides in my opinion.
Laundry care instructions
If you’re making some crochet cloths as gifts you might want to include some washing instructions so the recipient knows how to take care of your handmade goodies. I’m pretty sure most people disregard laundry instructions and just chuck everything in the machine on their preferred setting, but even if that’s where your crochet cloths end up, including some care symbols on an accompanying label is a nice touch for a handmade gift anyway.
Make sure to keep the label that your yarn comes in as it will most likely have some kind of care instructions included. You could copy those as is, or translate them, depending on the look you want and how much space you have to write or draw on your label.
Free crochet washcloth patterns
For the washcloths pictured above, I experimented with a few different stitches, including the grit stitch, the star stitch, and just simple rows of half double and double crochet.
The star stitch in green cotton is similar to this pattern: DIY crochet star stitch potholder by Petit bout de chou. I know it’s a potholder pattern but it works just as well as a washcloth, and is quite a visually appealing stitch I think.
Here are some more patterns for crochet cloths that I like the look of. Some are for your body, some are for the dishes, but you could probably interchange them. They use different stitches and yarns, and will vary in thickness and stretchyness (is that a word?) so you can experiment and see what you like best.
- Easy textured dishcloth by Maria’s Blue Crayon
- Little washies & storage basket by Brenda K.B. Anderson on Ravelry
- Creek Pebbles DIY crochet dishcloth pattern by Crochet Life
- Softest crochet baby washcloth by Stitching Together
- Waffle crochet spa washcloth by Kate Alvis on Ravelry
Will you try any of these? Leave a comment below and let me know! Have you used or created handmade washcloths before? If so, what’s your favourite stitch and yarn to use?