I still have a rag bag, and it's as indispensable today in my home as it was in my mother's household. The rag bag is where we get rags for putting polish on the furniture, for removing stripper when we're refinishing and for putting on wood stain. We use rags to clean up spills and to wash the car. And I still have one of those wood-handled mop with the spring-loaded catch, and I still use rags in the mop when I'm mopping the floors. No Swiffer or whatever the latest craze is here. My mophead is recyclable. I wash my rags and reuse them many times before they are discarded. Old tee shirts, towels and other cotton fabrics fill my ragbag.
Many people saved rags for quilts, patches, dolls, rugs and anything else requiring fabric. Log cabin owners used rags to stuff in the chinking and around doors as insulation.
|An old crazy quilt I bought 10 years ago, and still use. It is|
made from scraps of upholstery material and velvet, with a
blanket serving as the filler.
|This quilt was made in the 1950's of old silk neckties.|
|Ragpicker in France, from wikimedia commons|
Rags were even worth money, as ragpickers came and bought used clothing and worn out blankets and such to be sold to pulp mills for use in paper-making.
Feed sacks were often made of pretty cotton fabrics and were carefully saved to make clothing, underwear, kitchen towels and other useful household items.
Today rags don't get much respect. Most clothing is not made of natural fibers anymore so paper mills probably couldn't use them if the rags were available. Paper towels, wet wipes, microfiber mops and other more modern and convenient tools have replaced the rag as a cleaning device in many homes. Quilts are made with newly bought and carefully matched fabrics, and made more for their artistic value than for the basic need to keep warm.
With today's focus on living "green" I wonder if people are reconsidering the rag bag. Is it making a comeback in the homes of this century?
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.