cleaning tools (face)

Basically: hand + face-cloth + cotton-wool-pads or substitute. No, sorry, no Clarisonics here. But some good uses for recycling deceased and distressed underwear.


Self-explanatory. I hope. Feet work well too, and other people’s hands (and feet) too. For the purpose of applying stuff to face, rubbing it around gently, rinsing, using other tools such as cloths, and so on.


aka washcloth, flannel, face flannel. Made out of cotton terry/towelling. used for decades, widely available. At least, in my family and its part of the world (UK & Ireland), used for generations. This procedure has worked for my sensitive, eczematic, flaky, dry family for generations. So you can claim it’s traditional, and we’re talking Scotland and Ireland, so I should probably sell this as some fey Celtic-twilight thing and make lots of money right now.

What kind of material? The basic normal ordinary kind of face-cloth that’s made out of a thinner sort of cotton towelling. Like you can buy anywhere from Wal-Mart to Restoration Hardware (and beyond) in the US. If you want to be more eco-, get better-quality ones as they last longer. Several times longer. How do you know they’re etter quality? Price is often an indicator here; also just feel the material, weigh it up in your hand, should be obvious. But even the cheap ones do last–I had the expensive 50c ones from Wal-Mat bought in 2000 that I threw out when moving house in 2007, except two that were still fine, and I’m still using them now; and cheap Primark ones from 2007 that are still going strong. And bear in mind you’ll want to buy quite a few, so as to use a fresh one about every other day, say 3 a week, so call it buying 7 for a 2-week cycle.

Also, to be more eco, look for organic unbleached undyed fair-trade cotton ones. Avoid bamboo, they’re rougher and wear out fast (my old ones weren’t even any good recycled as household cleaning cloths). Undyed, by the way, comes in handy when it comes to washing them, as they can be washed with anything, no risk of turning men’s underwear pink etc.

If being very parsimonious and virtuous: make your own–buy towelling material, cut to size, edge, et voilà.

How do you wash them: either in the washing-machine or by hand, like everything else. I go through at least 2 face-cloths every week, 3 if I’m being spotty. They get thrown in the wash with everything else. How do you launder more greenly?
(1) wash full loads where possible (without overloading),
(2) wash in cold water when possible, or at the very least warm for the soapy cycle and cold for the rinsing one; and use the delicate programme, or whatever the one’s called that’s shorter and doesn’t rinse and tumble things for hours, to death…
(3) if your machine has one, use the ecological/less-water cycle. On older machines, you can often cheat by claiming the load is smaller: ex. a full load, but put it on a medium-load cycle. For many machines, the difference between one size of load and another is quantity of water + length of water-gushing-around cycles. More water and more water for bigger loads.
(4) use a biodegradable and non-ecologically-ravaging detergent/cleaning thing. Ecover, Seventh Generation, and many others make good ones.
(5) don’t tumble dry when it’s not necessary; let things air dry whenever possible. Admittedly, this makes our apartment look like tent city for most of the week…

What cleansing formula? Whatever cleanser I’m using. Currently that’s a very plain liquid cleanser (Everyday Shea unscented moisturising body wash). That’s ground-water safe, etc. And the same technique for the actual cleaning of the Gingerramatic person that I’ve used since, errm, an infant and other people were washing me …

I don’t exfoliate, other than the slight physical exfoliation that happens normally with the using of the face-cloth. (I have the sort of skin that actually rips, comes off, and bleeds when “properly” exfoliated. So I don’t do it.)

Why’s this greener? More or less anything is greener than wipes. OK, except for, say, using leaves that have fallen naturally to the ground, then turning them straight into compost.


Make your own from old cotton-jersey clothes. Materials needed:

  • old cotton T-shirts, underwear, and other clothes that are falling apart
  • thread
  • needle
  • (and being short-sighted helps)

Cut out 2 circles, one slightly bigger than the second; about the same shape as your usual cotton-wool pad of choice. Cut out some more material (weird-shaped edge bits, scraps,…). Put that in the middle, as padding. Like making a wonton. Stitch together, with the bigger circle overlapping the smaller one; I usually stitch about 3 mm (0.3 cm) inside the outer rim. The stitching should be neat and tight.
Repeat process for as many pads as you’d need in about 10 days. Or do this in smaller batches…

Use like disposable pads; instead of throwing in the trash after use, rinse (tap does fine) and chuck in the laundry. I put them all in one of those net bags for delicates & smalls. Washing all of the used pads at the end of the week (I work, so laundry gets done with all other major housework at the end of the week). I often just put them in with regular wash. If being thorough, though, sterilise them properly by putting them in a pan of boiling water (on stove/cooker-top, keep boiling for about 3 min: similar technique to dealing with baby stuff). Oh yes and don’t put the net bag in the boiling water, it may melt (main use of net bag: prevent these small circles from ending up folded into clothes and in pockets…).

Similar technique, larger pieces of material, and indeed no stitching needed: to make your own household cleaning cloths. Very good for dusting, polishing, polishing shoes, etc. (Thanks to mother and grandmother; technique standard in depression-era and war-&-postwar-rationing-era Britain. The original “Make Do And Mend.”)


from a camisole & thong set; also available in pink... and in bulk... not to be confused with edible chocolate underwear; also, do not attempt to make a DIY version at home by moulding hot molten chocolate on real live human being

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