How (and Why) to Exfoliate with a Washcloth

Updated October 10, 2022
Woman wiping face using a washcloth in bathroom

Exfoliation is the process of getting rid of the dead outer layer of skin. You hear all about the benefits of exfoliation in beauty and skincare circles. But are those benefits enough to warrant the price of expensive exfoliation products?

There are exfoliation creams and washes available that contain microbeads, crushed fruit, and many other exotic combinations, all claiming to beautify the skin. However, using a simple, inexpensive household item can yield great results when it comes to skincare. Gather a few benefits of washcloth exfoliation, along with quick instructions.

Benefits of Exfoliating With a Washcloth

You probably already have a collection of washcloths in your home. Some of them may be quite old, but these are actually the best washcloths with which to exfoliate. The nubby texture is a natural exfoliant. It performs the same task as those specialized cleansers at a fraction of the cost of some of the specialty devices. Explore a few benefits of washcloth exfoliation.

Gentle on Sensitive Skin

Anyone with sensitive skin knows that they can't take a chance on just any kind of product. Some of the exfoliants on the market will irritate sensitive and/or acne-prone skin. Exfoliating with a washcloth, with or without a cleanser made for this skin type, is a natural and gentle way to slough off dead skin cells that hide a fresh complexion. In addition, when you exfoliate at home, you control the amount of pressure you apply to your face. Once you get to know your skin, you'll know areas you need to exfoliate more, and which areas require gentle handling.

And if you're also considering a spa exfoliation treatment, the American Academy of Dermatology (ADD) notes that mechanical exfoliation can be too irritating for sensitive skin.

Inexpensive and Easy

Although there are exfoliating products at every price point, you still can't beat the price of an item you already have at home. If you need to purchase new washcloths, leave the fancy, plush brands on the shelf. Choose inexpensive clothes that feel a little rough to the touch.

Works Well With DIY Facials

Maybe you're not the type to head to a spa for facials and mud baths. You prefer to do your pampering yourself. Washcloth exfoliation can give you good results. Plus, for women who love to whip up natural skin care concoctions at home, you can mix up a simple mask to use after you exfoliate as part of your own at-home facial.

Organic mud mask with moisturizer, massage oil, washcloth, green leaves and salt scrub on a wooden spoon

Provides a Natural Option

Exfoliating products can be helpful in revealing beautiful skin, but they can also contain a lot of chemicals. If you live a simpler, greener lifestyle, you may want to avoid all of those. Additionally, the ADD states how important it is to choose exfoliants for your skin type. Using an exfoliant that is too harsh can lead to skin damage and breakouts. Additionally, more aggressive exfoliation forms can lead to issues like dark spots, according to ADD.

How to Exfoliate with a Washcloth

Are you ready to get started? Remember to start gently with your skin to make sure you don't cause damage. If you're ready to get a glowing complexion the easy, simple way, just follow these instructions.

  1. Thoroughly wet a washcloth with warm water, not hot.
  2. Wring it out and apply a cleanser of your choice, if desired. You can also use only water.
  3. Lay the washcloth flat and fold it over your hand.
  4. Begin at the forehead and rub in small circles, applying pressure with your hand.
  5. Move down to the cheeks, continuing to rub in small, circular motions.
  6. You may find it necessary to concentrate on the base of the nose, where a lot of oil accumulates.
  7. Continue exfoliating, moving to the chin. Again, some people have a buildup of oil glands, making it necessary to focus more on this area.
  8. Rinse the face if you used a cleanser.
  9. Pat dry with a clean towel.
  10. Follow up with a moisturizer.

Keep in mind that you can use this same exfoliating technique on the body, particularly on rough areas like the elbows and knees.

Tips for Exfoliating With a Washcloth

The exfoliation schedule depends on your skin type, according to ADD. It's important to make sure you don't over-exfoliate the skin, causing it to get irritated. Be gentle and pay attention to your skin. You'll also want to try out a few of these tips and tricks.

  • Avoid rubbing pimples, as this can irritate them and make acne worse.
  • Avoid the eye area.
  • Avoid wounds, cuts, or sunburned areas.
  • Don't scrub harshly, even in oil-prone areas.
  • Use a washcloth once or twice, and then use a new one.
  • Use baby washcloths for ultra-sensitive skin.

Once you know the basics of exfoliating with a washcloth, you may never want to use expensive products again, particularly if being natural appeals to you. Good skin care is sometimes little more than a simple routine, and it doesn't get much simpler than using a washcloth.

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How (and Why) to Exfoliate with a Washcloth