how to wash out flour?
January 18, 2007 3:15 PM   Subscribe

How do I wash flour out of my towels?

What do I do with the towels I use for breadmaking? I have some flour sack towels that are covered in copious amounts of flour. Dough has stuck to some of them and dried into a hard mass. I'd like to wash them out and reuse them, but I'm worried about making a batch of wheat-paste in my washing machine. How do I wash these things without making a bigger mess than I started with?
posted by iloveit to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you soak them for a while in warm water, the flour should soften up and turn into gross spongy bits that will wash off under the tap. You may have to put them under something heavy to keep them from floating to the top.
posted by smackfu at 3:19 PM on January 18, 2007

Personally, I'd soak them in a bucket (warm water) til the flour dissolves -- it usually settles to the bottom if you give it a little time -- and then dump the bucket-o-watery-flour out in your yard / the nearest storm drain. At this point they should be "clean" enough to run through the washer.
posted by at 3:25 PM on January 18, 2007

Fill your bath with cold water.

Agitate. Rinse. Drain. Repeat.
posted by popcassady at 3:30 PM on January 18, 2007

(...or so my gran says.)
posted by popcassady at 3:33 PM on January 18, 2007

You know what I would try.

stretch them out as flat as you can and then either let them dry ....OR... freeze them....

then just bend/flake it all off?...

course you dont say how many you have or how "clumped" together they are.

( I only say this because for the past week or so its been -10 every night and freezing them would be easy-peasy. ;)
posted by jmnugent at 3:47 PM on January 18, 2007

Definitely soak them if you're worried about it. But realistically, a standard washing machine uses 40 gallons of water per load, so figure about 20 - 25 gallons for the wash cycle. That's a lot of liquid. The first hit for "wheat paste recipe" on google calls for a 16:3 water:flour ratio, so assuming 25 gallons of water that would be 75 cups of flour that you would need dissolved in your towels to approximate the consistency of glue. I don't think you have nearly that much flour dissolved in your towels. As long as you wash them alone and not part of a larger load I don't think you have anything to worry about.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:26 PM on January 18, 2007

(and naturally if you have a water-saving washing machine you can roughly halve those figures, but that's still an awful lot of flour)
posted by Rhomboid at 5:31 PM on January 18, 2007

I've washed tea towels in that exact condition in my washing machine (which is a basic model) with absolutely no problems. No pre-soaking or anything.
posted by stefnet at 8:16 PM on January 18, 2007

for the ones with not so much dough stuck to them, put them on the floor and run a vaccum cleaner over them first. then wash normally.
posted by cubby at 9:51 PM on January 18, 2007

jmnugent's method worked fine for me. After trying that now-famous NYT no-knead bread recipe a couple of times, I just lay the towels on the porch and let them dry for a day, then beat them against the railing a few times to get most of the flour off, then into the washer. Worked like a charm.
posted by mediareport at 9:55 PM on January 18, 2007

Go outside and shake as much flour out of the towels as possible. A lot will come out. Pick off any big clumps. It hasn't seemed to matter much to me on the automatic wash cycle whether you wash with warm or cold. Skake! Shake! Shake!
posted by Ariadne at 10:35 PM on January 18, 2007


Hee hee.

Anyway, I have a similar issue with an apron which became covered in flour dough. I agitated it over the sink - crushed, folded, stretched etc to get the worst of it off, then soaked it and washed it. It was fine afterwards.
posted by tomble at 12:27 AM on January 19, 2007

Wait, I know this one: you have to beat it out.

It's an old college 'prank' to "Antique" a room (I had never heard of it before I experienced it first hand): You pour flour all over a room. If you add water to it, it forms a nice paste. In order to wash everything and clean the flour out of all of your stuff, you cannot add more water because it forms a dough like substance and then eventually paste. So you have to literally beat the flour out.

Ah college.
posted by CAnneDC at 9:25 AM on January 19, 2007

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