How to Use a Washcloth Properly

How to Use a Washcloth Properly

With so much repetition, we tend to take our daily routines for granted. We may begin to overlook small details that make a huge difference in our personal hygiene. There is one tool, in particular, then many of us fail to think of seriously: the steadfast washcloth.

When used properly, a washcloth can significantly enhance your cleansing routine. When used improperly, washcloths can wreak havoc on our skin and overall hygiene. 

Using a washcloth may seem simple—and it can be—but there are a surprising number of common mistakes that can lead to unwanted results. Let's take a look.

What is a washcloth?

A washcloth, sometimes referred to as a face cloth or flannel, is a small square piece of cloth material designed to help with cleansing and exfoliation of the skin.

Made from soft fibers like cotton or bamboo, washcloths have long been a staple in skincare routines, offering a manual method to rid the skin of dirt, oil, and dead skin cells.

Benefits of using a washcloth

The beauty world is constantly coming out with the latest gadgets and innovations, but sometimes, the classic tools remain irreplaceable.

There are many benefits to incorporating a washcloth into your beauty routine.

Deep cleansing

Washcloths provide an added layer of deep cleansing, allowing you to gently exfoliate the skin and open up the pores as you wash your face or body.

Healthier exfoliation

Washcloths can help you achieve the perfect level of exfoliation. They are more gentle than your typical exfoliating scrub, more invigorating than washing with just your hands, and more hygienic than your loofah.

Better for the environment

Opting for reusable washcloths, in place of disposable face wipes or cotton pads, can greatly reduce waste—making it a more sustainable choice.

Better for your budget

Instead of constantly buying disposable products, a high-quality washcloth can last for many uses if cared for properly, saving you money in the long run.


Aside from cleansing, a damp, cool washcloth can be placed on the face to calm inflammation or irritation.

Additionally, anyone that has experienced a sports injury or has suffered a bad reaction from a bee sting, may remember reaching for a washcloth as a protective barrier between your sensitive skin and an icepack.

How to use a washcloth

So how do you use a washcloth? Whether washing your face or body, in the sink, bath, or shower, let's look at each step for proper washcloth use.

Step 1: Prepare your washcloth

Always start with a clean washcloth. Wet it thoroughly in the sink, shower, or bathtub faucet with warm water. A washcloth that is ready to use should be soft but not soggy, and moist but not soaked.

Step 2: Apply soap or cleansers

Apply your preferred cleanser, soap, or body wash. Some people prefer to apply cleansing products directly to the skin, while others like to squeeze or lather it onto the washcloth. There is no right way here, let personal choice guide you.

Step 3: The right way to scrub

Use gentle, circular motions to cleanse your face or body.

While washing the face, focus on areas prone to oil and the build-up of dead skin cells, like the T-zone. The gentle fibers of the cloth will exfoliate without causing microtears in the skin.

The same applies to legs, arms, and other body parts: be gentle but don't be afraid to focus on the areas that may harbor the most dust, dirt, and sweat from the day.

Step 4: Rinsing off

After a thorough cleanse, rinse your washcloth with water.

Using a soft, absorbent towel, pat (don't rub) yourself dry. Rubbing can irritate the skin and cause redness. If you are prone to dry skin, apply your preferred moisturizer after patting dry your face or body.

Caring for your washcloth

It’s crucial to take proper care of your washcloth to avoid the buildup of dirt, oils, and bacteria in the fabric. Proper washcloth care can also help prevent breakouts and skin irritation, or worse, infection.

Change your washcloth everyday

Just as you wouldn't reuse dirty socks (we hope), the same applies to washcloths. Rinse them after every use to eliminate skin residues and bacteria, and change them daily. Yes—daily. A collection of washcloths can simplify this routine, ensuring you always have a fresh one on hand.

Dry and store it properly

Drying your washcloth properly is important—a damp washcloth can harbor bacteria and mold. Find a dry, well-ventilated space to hang wet washcloths. If available, consider hanging them outside, where the sun's natural antibacterial properties can work its magic.

Replace it regularly

Even with meticulous care, over time, washcloths can hold on to harmful bacteria. It's recommended to replace your washcloths every 3-4 months.

Common mistakes

  • Over-exfoliation: When in the bath or shower, especially after a long day, it’s tempting to scrub away. If your skin feels oily or you’re experiencing a breakout, you may be afflicted by the common misconception that more scrubbing equals cleaner skin. But, on the contrary, excessive scrubbing can increase irritation, causing redness, sensitivity, and sometimes even more aggressive breakouts.

  • Neglecting washcloth hygiene: Properly wash your washcloths! This may be one of the most important steps to safe and clean washcloth use. Dirty washcloths can lead to bacteria, and bacteria can lead to infection.

  • Using unsuitable cleansers: Not every soap or cleanser pairs well with a washcloth. Avoid heavy-duty, thick exfoliating scrubs. Those prone to sensitive or dry skin should look for non-abrasive, pH-balanced formulas for best results.

  • Ignoring skin's feedback: If your skin feels overly tight or irritated after using a washcloth, consider adjusting your technique or frequency. If you experience repeated and prolonged irritation, even when following proper washcloth use and care, consider switching to simply using your hands instead.

Final thoughts

Washcloths, when used correctly, can be valuable tools in your skincare arsenal.

By using gentle techniques and maintaining proper cleanliness, you can unlock all of the benefits of washcloth use, leading to healthy, fresh, and vibrant skin.

Mellanni's 100% Terry Cotton, 6-Piece Towel Set includes two ultra-soft, ultra-durable washcloths—perfect for adding to your skincare collection or replacing old items that need to be retired.

Happy washing!

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