By the time you hit your 30s, you learn that taking off your makeup and washing your face is a crucial step in your P.M. routine. Gone are the days of passing out in last night’s makeup and rolling into the office looking as if you had a full night’s sleep—to achieve that fresh-faced look now, you need to carefully cleanse and actually get some shut-eye.
When it comes to the cleansing process, a good washcloth is essential. “I love a good washcloth,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Purvisha Patel tells Byrdie, explaining that they can be used to exfoliate your skin as you wash away the day’s makeup, dirt, and grime.
As for what to look for in a washcloth that removes makeup, she’s all about “an old-fashioned nubbly washcloth for oily or normal skin” and notes that if you have dry, sensitive skin, you should opt for a smoother, softer cloth.
I fall in the normal skin camp, although I am prone to acne at certain times of the month. With Dr. Patel’s advice in mind, I spent 90 hours testing 14 different highly-rated washcloths. I scored each washcloth on texture and feel, how exfoliating it was, how easily it removed makeup, and more.
Read on to find out which ones worked best for me.
Pai Twin Flyer Cloths
Double-sided for exfoliating and cleansing
Made with 100% organic cotton
Doesn’t fully remove waterproof mascara
There’s a lot to love about this washcloth. First, it’s double-sided—one side is muslin for exfoliation, and the other is flannel for cleansing and removing makeup. It’s made of 100% organic cotton, meaning it’s unlikely to irritate the skin, and at $19 for three cloths, it’s relatively affordable.
The feel is very soft and luxurious (more so on the flannel side, but the muslin side is soft as well), so I gave it five for the overall feel. The muslin side is incredibly exfoliating, earning itself a score of five for exfoliation as well. It’s nice and small, too, which I love; it’s never fun when a washcloth takes up too much space.
The one downside of this washcloth is that it won’t remove all of your makeup. While it wiped away my tinted moisturizer, cheek tint, and concealer easily, it just wasn’t a match for my waterproof mascara (which I learned throughout this testing process was incredibly hard to remove in general), so I gave it a four for makeup removal.
Material: 100% organic cotton | Size: Small | Absorbency: Very absorbent | Colors: Off-white | Machine Washable: Yes
The Body Shop Luxury Flannel Facial Washcloth
Made with facial flannel
Very smooth on the skin
Great for on-the-go
Dries very stiff
Needs to be very wet to work well
The Body Shop’s washcloths cost just $6.50 each and are wrapped individually, making them a great budget-friendly pick for both at-home and on-the-go cleansing. Crafted from 100 percent flannel, they’re quite soft on the skin, though not crazy soft (I gave them a softness score of four). They’re quite good for makeup removal if you use them while very wet, though they did leave behind some of my mascara, which is to be expected. When it comes to exfoliation, they do a so-so job.
Other than the fact that they’re more effective the wetter you get them, one thing to note is that they dry very, very stiff—and do look a bit strange. But that can be easily remedied once you re-wet them.
Price at time of publish: $6.50
Material: Facial flannel/100% PVA | Size: Small | Absorbency: Very absorbent | Colors: White | Machine Washable: No
Best for On-the-Go
Tatcha Kinu Pure Silk Polishing Face Cloth
Works even when it isn’t wet
Made from 100% silk
Incredibly soft and luxurious
Not very exfoliating
Not machine washable
Is there anything more luxurious than using 100 percent silk on your face? We don’t think so, which is why this washcloth earned a score of five for texture and feel. It’s one of the least irritating washcloths I tested, and I love how tiny it is, making it perfect for on-the-go use. Another bonus? It can be used wet or dry.
It didn’t rank high from an exfoliating perspective; after all, silk just isn’t that exfoliating. However, where it’s lacking in exfoliation, it makes up for in makeup removal: Although it didn’t get all my makeup off (that pesky mascara!), the fact that it can remove foundation, cheek tint, and concealer even while dry is enough to score a five in my book. The soothing purple color is a nice touch.
One issue I had with this washcloth is that it’s not machine washable; I love to be able to throw everything in the laundry when it needs a good cleaning. It’s also pretty pricey: $70 (!) for a five-pack is a hefty price to pay for washcloths. But hey, no one ever said silk was cheap!
Material: 100% silk | Size: Small | Absorbency: Not very absorbent | Colors: Light purple | Machine Washable: No
Best for Acne-Prone Skin
Resorè Face Towel
Kills acne-causing bacteria and breaks down dirt and odor
Removes makeup well
Not super exfoliating
A super-soft washcloth that also fights acne? I’ll take it. I was impressed by how soothing this washcloth was on my skin, especially given the fact that it’s designed to kill acne-causing bacteria. Also impressive? Its ability to remove makeup. It quickly took off my tinted moisturizer, mascara, and cheek tint. While it didn’t immediately remove my mascara, with enough work, it finally did, which is more than I can say for most washcloths.
Another huge bonus is that it’s machine washable. The downsides? When it came to exfoliation, I wasn’t blown away. Plus, ringing it at $35 per cloth, it’s on the pricey side.
Price at time of publish: $35
Material: 67% cotton, 15% lyocell, 15% rayon made from bamboo, 3% silverback polyester | Size: Medium | Absorbency: Very absorbent | Colors: White | Machine Washable: Yes
Best for Makeup Removal
Face Halo Original
Uses a high-performance, ultra-fine microfiber to remove makeup
Black color makes it hard to see makeup you’ve removed
Not very exfoliating
The standout feature of this washcloth is how well it removes makeup. It was the only one of the bunch that removed my waterproof mascara quickly and easily, thanks to the high-performance, ultra-fine microfiber it’s made of. But while it’s certainly soft, it doesn’t have the super-luxurious feel other washcloths did, earning itself a score of three for texture and feel. Luckily, that isn’t the most important thing for me; I care more about whether it gets the job done from an exfoliation and makeup removal perspective.
Speaking of exfoliation, I didn’t find this washcloth to be super exfoliating, but my skin did feel nice and clean and not at all dry or irritated after using. I also love how compact these are and the fact that I can toss them into the washing machine with a load of laundry.
Price at time of publish: $22 for 3-pack
Material: Ultra-fine microfiber | Size: Small | Absorbency: Relatively absorbent | Colors: Black | Machine Washable: Yes
Best for Exfoliation
Eve Lom 3 Muslin Cloths
Made with 100% cotton
Removes makeup relatively well
A little bit drying/irritating
Not super absorbent
There’s a lot to love about these washcloths from Eve Lom. They’re made from 100 percent cotton, they feel clean and crisp on the skin, they’re machine-washable, and at $22 for a three-pack, they’re pretty affordable. I went into testing them hyper-focused on makeup removal, but I was surprised to find that exfoliation is where they really shined. They’re truly effective, earning a score of five for buffing away dead skin and debris.
But here’s where I warn you: Be careful and don’t scrub too hard with these muslin cloths, as my face felt a bit dry after using. Other than that, I liked them. They adequately remove makeup, taking off everything aside from my mascara relatively easily.
Price at time of publish: $22
Material: 100% cotton | Size: Medium | Absorbency: Somewhat absorbent | Colors: White | Machine Washable: Yes
Best for Sensitive Skin
HipHop Panda Bamboo Washcloths
Incredibly soft and soothing
Made from bamboo
Face felt very soft after use
Doesn’t get all makeup off
Simply put, I loved this washcloth. While it didn’t remove all my makeup (I gave it a four), nor was it super exfoliating (it’s designed for newborns, so that makes sense—I gave it a three), it was so soft and soothing on my skin.
Made from bamboo, these washcloths are some of the softest out there, so it should go without saying that I gave it a five for texture and feel. Their skin-smoothing, gentle nature also makes them a great option for anyone with sensitive or finicky skin. Plus, the little panda designs on the packaging are so cute—I’m a big fan!
Price at time of publish: $18.99 for Grey 10 x 10 in 6-pack
Material: 90% rayon made from bamboo, 10% cotton | Size: Small | Absorbency: Very absorbent | Colors: Available in seven colors | Machine Washable: Yes
Amazon Basics Egyptian Cotton Washcloths
A basic, standard washcloth
Made from 100% Egyptian cotton
Available in several colors
My skin felt a little raw after use
First things first: This is a very standard washcloth without many bells and whistles. It's made from 100 percent Egyptian cotton, so it's somewhat soft, but it also left my skin feeling a little dry afterward. In terms of cleansing and makeup removal, it did a pretty standard job, wiping away most of my makeup (but not all), and it does a decent—but not amazing job—exfoliating.
The main takeaway from this washcloth is that it will clean your face well, but probably won't blow you away in any way. It's a solid, reliable basic with a pretty reasonable price tag, considering the material.
Price at time of publish: $25.33 for Cocoa Powder
Material: 100% Egyptian cotton | Size: Small | Absorbency: Very absorbent | Colors: Available in seven colors | Machine Washable: Yes
Runner-Up, Best Basic
Amazon Basics Fast-Drying Absorbent Washcloths
A very standard, back-to-basics washcloth
Exfoliates and removes makeup relatively well
No standout qualities
This is a very, very basic washcloth, but a reliable standby. In fact, it’s probably the washcloth you’ve been using your whole life. It’s not crazy soft, but not super rough either; it exfoliates, but not super well. It removes most makeup but leaves a little bit behind. Overall, if you’re looking for a very standard, bare-bones washcloth with no fancy promises, this is it. It doesn't hurt that it's machine washable and affordable, too.
Price at time of publish: $18.99 for White 12 x 12 in towels
Material: 100% cotton | Size: Medium | Absorbency: Very absorbent | Colors: Available in 8 different colors | Machine Washable: Yes
Best Soft Option
Kitsch Microfiber Makeup-Removing Towels
Does a decent job removing makeup
Not very absorbent
Leaves the face feeling very damp
Black color makes it hard to see removed makeup
The Kitsch Microfiber Makeup-Removing Towel is very, very soft; so soft that I gave it a five in that department. If the name is any indication, this washcloth is specifically designed for removing makeup, so if that’s what you’re looking for, consider this a worthy option.
However, I did find some flaws with it. It’s not very absorbent, making it hard to keep the towel super wet—the water drops roll off of it. When I finally got it wet enough, it effectively took off most of my makeup as promised, but it was hard to see exactly how much makeup was coming off because it’s black. While this is an advantage from a staining perspective, it can be somewhat frustrating when you’re trying to understand how much more makeup you have left to remove. Finally, after cleansing, my face felt so damp that I had to fully towel it off with another washcloth which was…interesting. I wasn’t blown away from an exfoliation perspective either, but again, that’s not really what this washcloth is about.
Price at time of publish: $18
Material: 100% polyester | Size: Small | Absorbency: Not very absorbent | Colors: Black | Machine Washable: Yes
Best Chic Option
Coyuchi Mediterranean Organic Towels
Very chic look
Made from 100% organic cotton
Removes makeup somewhat well
Skin felt smoother after use
I’ve been a fan of Coyuchi for years, so I was excited to try this washcloth. It has a very chic look to it, thanks to the subtle gray stripe detail at the bottom, which I’m a big fan of. It just looks good hanging up in your bathroom.
In terms of function, it didn’t blow me away from a testing perspective. It removed most, but not all, of my makeup, and it did a great job exfoliating my face without leaving it dry or irritated. It wasn’t the softest or most luxurious washcloth I tried, but it was just soft enough.
One thing worth noting: It stains easily. It’s machine washable, so I threw it in the dryer, and my makeup was very visible on it afterward. So if you want it to maintain its chic look, I recommend using stain remover and rinsing it out before tossing it in your washer/dryer.
Price at time of publish: $168 for Coyuchi Cotton with Rust
Material: 100% organic cotton | Size: Medium | Absorbency: Medium absorbency | Colors: White | Machine Washable: Yes
Best Unique Option
Boscia Konjac Cleansing Sponge
Natural konjac fibers for gentle exfoliation
Good for sensitive skin
Made by a family-owned company
Really doesn’t remove makeup at all
Not machine washable
Of all the washcloths I tested, this one intrigued me the most. Konjac root is known for its health benefits, and in this case, it aims to gently cleanse and exfoliate the skin. It’s extremely soft and luxurious, and in addition to cleansing, it does provide a mild (like, very mild) exfoliating effect. While it was fun to use, I was pretty let down when it came to makeup removal—it didn’t remove any of my makeup.
Overall, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this little sponge, but I do love that it’s affordable (it costs about $8), good for sensitive skin, and can be used over and over again.
Price at time of publish: $15
Material: 100% Asian Konjac Root | Size: Small | Absorbency: Very absorbent | Colors: Off white | Machine Washable: No
Best Plush Option
Brooklinen Super-Plush Washcloths
Made from 100% Turkish cotton
Very soft and plush as promised
Skin felt moisturized and calm after use
On the large side
Similar to Coyuchi, I’ve long been a fan of Brooklinen for years. I absolutely love their bathrobes and swear by their sheets, so I was very excited to try this washcloth. It was very soft and plush (scoring a perfect five in the texture and feel department) and removed makeup somewhat well—it didn’t pick up much, if any, of my mascara. While I wasn’t blown away, it did exfoliate my skin somewhat well, too.
The one downside to this washcloth (other than that it didn’t remove all my makeup) is that it’s a little on the large side; I personally like my washcloths to run a bit smaller! It’s also a tad pricey at $19 per cloth. Overall, where this washcloth really stands out is the feel. It’s incredibly plush—must be that 100% Turkish cotton.
Price at time of publish: $25
Material: 100% Turkish cotton | Size: Medium to large-ish | Absorbency: Somewhat absorbent | Colors: Available in 12 colors | Machine Washable: Yes
Best Fun Option
Makeup Eraser The Original MakeUp Eraser
Fun, vibrant colors
Doesn’t totally remove makeup
Left my skin feeling a bit dry after
The Original Makeup eraser is super fun—coming in several very bright, vibrant colors—and boasts a super soft and plush feel. It comes with a big promise: To erase makeup, which it doesn’t quite do, though it does get most of it off. Because it’s so soft and gentle, I also wouldn’t rely on it for any heavy exfoliation. Similar to the Kitsch towel, it’s not the most absorbent. This makes it hard to get it fully wet, and I also found that it left my face feeling pretty dry afterward.
Price at time of publish: $20 for Original Pink
Material: 100% polyester | Size: Small | Absorbency: Not very absorbent | Colors: Available in 8 very vibrant colors | Machine Washable: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"The fabric is very soft and gentle and doesn’t pull on the skin, which is important. It's affordable and really works; what else can you ask for?" —Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester
Meet the Expert
Dr. Purvisha Patel is a board-certified dermatologist and the creator of Visha Skincare.
How We Tested Washcloths
We tested these washcloths by applying a full face of makeup and using each cloth under several circumstances—sometimes when the makeup had been on for hours, other times immediately afterward. For exfoliation, we paired each washcloth with a cleanser to see how well they sloughed away dirt and dead skin cells. As you can see from the reviews, some were more effective than others. I have very normal skin, so that’s worth considering as you read. If your skin leans towards sensitive or acne-prone, you may want to opt for a washcloth that’s geared toward those skin types.
We also interviewed an expert to fully understand what certain materials do and how to best use washcloths.
What to Look For in a Washcloth
Throughout testing, I learned different materials are geared toward different skin benefits and goals. For example, muslin exfoliates well, while polyester is relatively good at removing makeup. Ultrafine microfibers (like what the Face Halo is made of) are excellent at removing makeup. Silk can remove makeup without you even having to wet it first. Cotton is a basic, effective material that will cleanse well and remove makeup.
One thing I found throughout testing is that bigger is not necessarily better. I found smaller products to be a lot better—I loved when I could simply slip a washcloth into my bag or put it away neatly on a shelf.
Do you want a washcloth that shows no signs of stains? You might want to opt for black. If you want a washcloth that shows you exactly what you’re taking off, a lighter color is better.
This might come down to personal preference, but I was always relieved to find that a washcloth was machine washable. In my opinion, it’s just so much easier!
How do you use a washcloth to cleanse your face?
Typically, you’ll want to first wet the washcloth, although some can be used dry. Next, use gentle, circular motions to help remove dirt, makeup, and other impurities from your face. Afterward, gently pat dry and apply a moisturizer. You can use a washcloth with or without a cleanser.
How do you clean a washcloth for your face?
It depends on the washcloth. Some have to air dry, while others are machine washable. If you don’t want them to stain, be sure to rinse thoroughly and/or apply a stain remover before washing.
How often should you replace your washcloths for your face?
How often you'll need to replace your washcloths depends on how often you use them and what they're made of, but a year is generally a good timeframe. If they lose their absorbency or the texture becomes too rough, swap it out for something softer.
Why Trust Byrdie
Leigh Weingus is a New York-based freelance writer with a decade of experience in media.