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I am cleaning windows (small business) and that generates a bag of wet dirty cotton towel rags each day. I wash the rags each day, and need to store those until the end of the week, when I take the rags to a local laundry to be dried.

I can't go to the laundry every day, so it is crucial to find a way to store the rags wet for extended periods of time without starting to smell of mold. I have been told that this is impossible, but I don't believe that in the slightest. In fact, I think that simply packing in a tightly sealed plastic bag will be enough to prevent spores from getting in contact. Also, the wet rags can be treated with a dilute bleach solution if needed. That is just at the top of my head.

Is what I'm suggesting viable?

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    "but I don't believe that in the slightest" Simple to test, If you do not believe it, then do it with a few old rags, and then you will find out how accurate your beliefs are. "In fact, I think that simply packing in a tightly sealed plastic bag will be enough to prevent spores from getting in contact." In your case, That is yet to be determined to actually be a fact. I can tell you from experience that for me if i leave a bunch of wet rags in tightly sealed bag that over time they smell musty and unpleasant at best. Report back the findings of your experiment please. – Alaska Man Sep 12 at 18:41
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    Is a clothesline out of the question? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 12 at 18:49
  • Perhaps approach the problem from a different angle. Lay the rags out, instead of bundling them up, until you can take them in. Most window washers i see use a sponge type unit on handle and a squeegee, You still need to wipe the squeegee between wipes but perhaps that will not use as many rags. – Alaska Man Sep 12 at 18:49
  • @Alaska Man Well, I've been doing this for a couple of years. I am positive you will get through a bag-full in a day. At least for the kind of window cleaning we do around here – Nikolai Frolov Sep 12 at 19:16
  • I like the chest freezer idea below, I store my dive gear in mesh bags that breathe these bags may help dry the rags I know if I store my gear in a sealed bag it starts smelling bad in just a couple of days Even when it was in pool water with high chlorine. A green goodie bag or catch bag can probably hold several hundred rags. The ones I have are decades old so they last I even have one on the boat to hold life jackets the sun has not degraded them so they would hold up to repeated moisture. The dive bags are sized by color red small maybe 12” long, yellow medium ~2’ long and green large 3’ – Ed Beal Sep 12 at 21:20
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A sealed plastic bag will not help. The spores that caused mold are literally everywhere. Unless you have a "clean room" to process the rags, you're not going to keep the spores out.

The dilute bleach solution, however, is likely to be fruitful. You may want to experiment with the concentration of the bleach to find the most effective ratio.

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  • But then you’ll need to wash out the bleach before reuse. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 12 at 18:39
  • Well, if it is dilute enough not to smell much then I don't see why. It is not like those are clothes or something – Nikolai Frolov Sep 12 at 19:11
  • If the rags are white hydrogen peroxide in the rinse may help. I use it to kill mold but that is another cost, I buy gallons of concentrate online of food grade hydrogen peroxide it doesn’t stink and will whiten the rags. – Ed Beal Sep 12 at 21:27
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Trivial, if somewhat annoying, to fix.

Buy a chest freezer (unless you have one handy with empty space.) Put the wet, washed rags (bagged) in it. Several hours before you take them to be dried, take them out of the freezer to start thawing. You may need to experiment to find the right time. If you use one bag per day rather than one big bag you keep adding to, they will be easier to manage and will thaw faster.

Alternatively, just purchase a suitable dryer.

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  • Yeah, yet stupidly enough, I don't have the money or the space at this particular moment to buy a dryer, not to speak of a freezer. Like the idea though – Nikolai Frolov Sep 12 at 19:18
  • Just for the argument's sake, I would just need to seal and freeze those to kill the spores, no need to be kept frozen. I could seal and boil the rags too. I think. (Isn't practical, though) – Nikolai Frolov Sep 12 at 19:22
  • Freezing will stop the mold from growing. It won't kill the spores - spores are hard to kill. It would need to be frozen until wash day (-defrost time) Cheaper Approach - don't bother washing until you are ready to go dry them. Store in a bucket or garbage can or laundry sink filled with a disinfectant solution. – Ecnerwal Sep 13 at 0:46
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If you heat the rags up, they will go mouldy much more slowly. A bit like pasteurizing.

I found this out by putting too much washing in the dryer. It wasn't in the dryer long enough to dry them, but when hung up the clothes dried slowly without smell. At this time, when I just hung the damp washing up they went smelly because they dried too slowly.

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  • Or dont wash the rags until the end of the week – Polypipe Wrangler Sep 12 at 21:54
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don't wash the rags until the end of the week. the ammonia in window cleaner will prevent mold and bacteria while you are waiting.

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