So you can see how a system for kitchen towels might help. We love it! Here's the scoop:
Step 1: Clear Out
I got rid of all of my old kitchen towels... almost. (I saved the nicest ones to use for covering bread while it rises or as a drying mat for dishes on my counter. The next nicest were kept as rags in the laundry room, and the rest were either thrown away or sent to DI.)
Step 2: Start Fresh
I bought all new WHITE towels from Target (for a fresh start, so I can tell when they are dirty, and bleach them when they need it) --
drying towels (flour sack towels)
white towels with a colored stripe on each end (to be used on the floor)
Step 3: Store Neatly
I put dividers in our towel drawer for the first three kinds of towels.
I put a basket under the kitchen sink for the "floor towels." The stripe and its separate location help us to remember its use.
Step 4: Dry Out
We installed a 3-prong towel rack under the sink where towels can dry out. This slides back into the cupboard, out of the way... and out of sight.
Step 5: Establish Rules
I explained the "new towel rules" to the family and they are all compliant, especially Jon who has a pet peeve of yucky kitchen towels. In fact, Jon inspired my search for a good towel system. :)
1. Wash cloths are for washing the counters.
2. Hand towels are for drying hands.
3. Drying towels are for drying dishes and clean counters.
4. Floor towels (striped) are for cleaning up messes on the floor - washing and drying.
5. Only one towel of each kind should be out at a time.
6. After a wet towel is used, wash it out, squeeze out the extra water, and hang to dry.
The kids will ask, "Which towel can I use for my hands?" etc. By now, everyone is pretty familiar with the system and it has worked really well! Yay!