You might be thinking, “What could be more boring than a rag and the history of a rag?” But wait a minute!

There is so much that goes into the history of a rag.

Where do rags come from? A major source is clothing. That’s bit more interesting. We are all interested in clothes more than rags, right? And what are clothes made of? Well, fabric of course. Let’s drill this down a bit more.

What are fabrics and where do fabrics come from?

Broadly speaking there are natural fibers and synthetic fibers that are spun and woven into fabrics.

Some natural fibers have been in use for thousands of years, others are more recent. Silk comes from the cocoons of certain moth caterpillars and was first woven into fabric in China up to 6,000 years ago. Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant and dates back to at least ancient Egypt. Canvas was originally made from hemp. Wool of course comes from sheep and other animals, while cotton comes from the cotton plant.

The history of a rag

What about more modern fabric materials?

We need to turn to synthetic fibers for “modern” materials.

  • Nylon was invented in 1931
  • Acrylic was invented in 1950
  • Polyester was invented in 1953

Most of these modern fabrics and more recent variants are made from petroleum products, in other words oil!

Fabric Use Today

All of these materials are in use today because they have specific properties that are beneficial in certain applications, but not others. Canvas is great for making sails but not good for underwear – can you imagine? Wool is great in Alaska but not as comforting in parts of sunny Southern California. Get the idea?

Turning Fabric into Rags

Now the same thing applies when these fabrics become rags. Items started off as things you see (or wear) around you every given day. T-shirts, towels, blankets, and bed sheets! They all started as a fabric and got turned into (or shall we say repurposed) as a rag! Some are better than others for certain uses. The experts at A&A Wiping Cloth have been in the rag business for years and can point you in the direction of the perfect rag for your job. They have one of the largest selections of wiping rags in the business.

Want to learn more about the history of rags?

Here are a few articles that may help you out: